Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ways To Achieve Great Results

ERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: brent@actionleadership.com

Word count: 850

Four Ways To Achieve Great Results ... CONTINUALLY
by Brent Filson

Leaders live and die by results. For almost a quarter of a century, I've been teaching leaders of all ranks and functions worldwide to achieve not just average results but "more results faster continually." And "continually" is maybe the most important factor.

A lot of leaders live by having people get more results. They live by having them get more results on a faster basis. But they die when trying to get "more, faster" CONTINUALLY.

Here are four ways to make CONTINUALLY happen.

1. Deep Expectations. Clearly, expectations are a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you commit yourself to the expectations that achieving anything less than "more results faster continually" is unacceptable, you've created new contours for success.

I call those expectations "deep expectations" because they involve the five results-drivers that go deeply into your organization. The results drivers are: the strategies that marshal functions around central, organizing concepts; the tactics to execute those strategies; the resources to support the tactics; the people skills to promote great execution; and the motivational leadership to have the people be ardently committed to the execution.

The strategies, tactics, resources, people skills, and motivational leadership must be viewed within the context of and tested by "more results faster continually."

2. Deep relationships. To promote CONTINUALLY, you must champion deep, human, emotional relationships with the people you lead. This means going beyond the relatively shallow relationships involved in order-giving environments. The relationships cultivated in such environments don't go much deeper, in terms of their human bonding, than those involved with the giving, receiving, and carrying out of orders. When you order people to do a job, you may get more and faster results, but I submit that you won't get more/faster CONTINUALLY.

The power of deep relationships has been demonstrated since the dawn of history. In all cultures, whenever people needed to do great things, one thing had to take place: A leader had to gather those people together and speak from the heart. Profound, heartfelt relationships had to be established for great things to be accomplished.

Today, many leaders miss out on deep relationships that can lead to great results. They may know such relationships are important, but they don't know how to consistently create them, maintain them and enrich them.

Think of a time when you've experienced a deep, bonding with somebody -- not sexual as in a significant-other relationship -- but a bonding to achieve certain organizational accomplishments. It might have been with a boss, a friend, a colleague ... doesn't matter who, the important thing is the WHAT, the relationship


Now, picture yourself interacting with that person on one or more occasions. What was the physical setting? What was said? What was done? Recall what you felt. Recall the bonding that took place. What were the physical facts that gave you those emotions, that bonding? What were the actions you took as a result of that bonding? What were the results that came from those actions?

You may conclude that those relationships led to better results – and provided necessary environment for CONTINUALLY.

3. Deep processes. How do we create and sustain those relationships? One answer is through processes. Processes, which are systematic series of mental or physical steps directed toward specific ends, cultivate clarity of purpose and repeatability of outcomes.

A proven, robust process to advance CONTINUALLY is the Leadership Talk. The Leadership Talk is not about having leaders order people to do tasks, but having those people badly want to do those tasks. The ability to have others "want to" separates average leaders from great leaders. Hence, the Leadership Talk is a key driver of CONTINUALLY. (See my website for more information.) In fact, without employing Leadership Talks, leaders fail to create and sustain results-producing bonding between the leader and the people.

4. Deep results. If Leadership Talks are a key process in achieving the deep relationships needed to advance CONTINUALLY, what kind of results should CONTINUALLY encompass?

You can begin to get great results CONTINUALLY by having them flow through the prism of the Leadership Imperative.

The Leadership Imperative is: I WILL LEAD PEOPLE IN SUCH A WAY THAT WE TOGETHER NOT ONLY ACHIEVE THE RESULTS WE NEED BUT WE ALSO BECOME BETTER AS LEADERS AND AS PEOPLE.

You are never more effective as a leader as when, in getting more results faster continually, you are helping others be better than they are -- even better than thought they could be.

Guided by the Leadership Imperative, you'll find yourself realizing deep results. Furthermore, those deep results will advance CONTINUALLY. After all, if people know that in working with you, they will improve their job performance, boost their career, and enrich their lives, won't they want to work with you ... CONTINUALLY?

Results, of course, come in many forms and are measured and evaluated in many ways. I've discovered that most leaders are getting the wrong results, or the right results in the wrong ways. When you aim to start achieving "more results faster continually" you are on the right road to achieving the right results. Be guided by the four ways to make CONTINUALLY happen -- deep expectations, deep relationships, deep processes, deep results -- and you'll insure you'll be getting them in the right ways.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blogging Effectively

Perhaps "blogging" isn't such a graceful word. For me, personally, it sounds like a worded drudgery the way cereals can be soggy, skies can be foggy, and the way minds can be groggy. But for now, it's too late to rename this shortened word for web-logging. Widespread blogging is nevertheless one of the most engaging Internet developments of the past few years. As a medium it gives rise to many new and worthy voices and plays a new and vital force in shaping opinions, political realities, trends, and even our language.

I believe that a blog is simply a tool to use for someone who's got something to say. Let me be clear in saying that a blog is a poor choice for someone who needs a megaphone to scream out to cyberspace in order to elicit a meaningful response from Internet users. If you want attention and want it now and expect blogging to bring it to you, then this will surely be a disappointment. However, if you like to write and engage others on subjects of which you have some command or experience, then it's a wonderful application with which you can interact with people who share similar interests as you. The hype is well founded.

Anyway, here's a list of blogging tips…

1.) Be topical.
Cohesiveness in message is not optional. Readers may or may not be interested in your topic, but if your message is haphazard that few will bother remembering to return to your blog because it essentially would offer nothing to remember. This doesn't mean blogs can't jump from subject to subject. For instance, a blog with a humorous focus has all the leeway in the world for subject matter, but it would be foolish for such a blog to turn the humor on and off. In such an example, the aspect of humor would be content's glue, the strength of the blog. The beauty of staying on point and on topic is that eventually, due to the nature of the Internet, you will find those interested solely in your topic. (as opposed to online diaries. There are millions of them on the internet, few have any readers. Email me with examples if I'm wrong and I'll be able to show you why you're showing me a blog and not a diary.)

2.) Refresh your content
Create a schedule and stick to it. Realizing that blogging requires time and effort, don't create unrealistic expectations and be unable to deliver. An occasional lapse or holiday is generally understood but readers returning to find stale, out-dated content are going to find another blog with similar content. New blogs and RSS feeds are popping up on a daily basis. If you have worked hard to develop an audience and a community you don't want to lose them due to lack of communication.

And remember, what's old is not new and, for blogs, thusly not interesting. 2006 isn't the time to rail against Enron or Vanilla Ice. Insight doesn't matter much to yesterday's news.

3.) Clear Language Counts.
Blessed is the blog with a clear line of logic. Write without inside jokes, clique-y catchphrases or ambiguous logic. First time readers need to be close to your message. They are more likely to return to blogs that strike them positively. If the first read is confusing there will not be a second read.

4.) Feed the Spiders.
Search engines take notice of active blogs and blog search engines are especially sensitive to activity. If nothing else, search engines are smarter today than they were yesterday and are only getting smarter. In constantly improving they are seeking to aggregate quality; quality blogs are updated several times a week, if not daily, as opposed to once or twice a month. I don't mean to scare you but a big spider is watching, so dance for them.

5.) RSS.
Think of RSS like a magic to blogging world, because that's the effect it's had. RSS feeds are a way to exponentially sound your voice to the interested. These feeds are a great means to increase the distribution and readership of your original content.

6.) Spell check.
Hey man, use the spell-check. I do – if I didn't you probably wouldn't have made it to #6. It only takes a minute and can save you from looking like a hack.

Your weblog audiences will be small at first. And, frankly, that's the way it should be. Who are you to think that half the internet will flock to you after three or four posts of your blog, anyway?

If you tough it out while maintaining quality, readership will materialize. You will link to good, relevant blogs and, in turn, they will to you. While your voice may be unique, your niche likely isn't and if your content is emitted smartly to the Internet those relevant readers will respond through readership and interaction. That I guarantee.

Make A Net - Work

Many job seekers are confused about networking, and therefore doubt its effectiveness. Networking is the art of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. So, like anything else, networking requires a bit of practice and finesse, but if done correctly, networking can be an invaluable part of your job search campaign.

Here are a few tips that can help develop a network that works for you:

Be Patient

Networking doesn't happen overnight; it's a process. Networking is not just something you can check off your job search list like "Send resume to Pfizer".

While people may want to help you, they might not be able to do so right away.Quite simply, you may not be the first item on their agenda. So, if someone agrees to meet with you but can't do so immediately, accept their offer graciously and patiently. Never let an opportunity to meet with someone during the course of networking slip away. Always be open to meeting!

Be Authentic and Kind

When you do meet with someone resulting from your scheduling attempts, take a sincere interest in their life, not just the information or possible assistance they can offer you. Don't push people for their knowledge or connections and then abandon the relationship. Networking means fostering relationships. This objective cannot be achieved by one person constantly taking while the other person constantly gives information or time. Relationships are built on trust and sharing over time.

Remember, one day you might be in a reverse career position; so be considerate and respectful to all you meet. Find ways to periodically reconnect with the contacts in your network to stay up to date on their lives,and let them know that you genuinely care about what is going on with them. Also, connecting and re-connecting, take the time to let them know that their advice and counsel was heard and put to good use. Acknowledging their individual value to you and to your career. Reinforcement of the time and advice offered by those in your network will foster gratefulness, awareness of their value to you and encourage them to continue helping you and others.

Be a Conduit

Remember, the objective of networking is…well…more networking. You should be constantly adding people to your list of contacts. Always find more contacts to meet and, in turn, become a great connector yourself! Open up your network to others. Hopefully they'll follow suit and do the same for you, keeping the cycle going. Think about those contacts who could help others in your network,then introduce them!

Keep in mind that not everyone you meet will understand what networking is or how they can help you. Many people think that the best way they can help you as a job seeker is to take your resume and pass it along to their human resources department. While their intentions are noble, their strategy won't help you and could actually wind up being counter-productive and consequently,losing you a great job.

HR managers, like recruiters, are sometimes only motivated to take action on your resume if there is a current job opening within the organization that matches your skills. If a position is not available, they have no incentive to contact you and the connection is lost.

Rather than giving your contacts a resume, ask them if they could introduce you to a member of their company so that you can learn more about their position, industry, and organization. This way, you'll learn more about the company, share information about yourself, and begin to build a relationship rather than ending up as just another resume lost at the bottom of the pile.

Be a Helper

Networking is all about reciprocity. No matter who you're dealing with, you should always try to give more than you receive. For example, if you have information about a particular company, industry, or educational program that would be valuable to someone in your network, share it. By sharing you will help others and in turn, others will help you.

Whether you're currently employed or job seeking is irrelevant - networking is a constant process. Obviously, you'll be more on the receiving end of your contacts' information when you're on the look out for a new job. But that just means you need to work that much harder at giving information and sharing your network while happily employed.

If you're constantly looking for ways to help people in your network achieve their goals, they'll be much more likely to help you in return.

Managing Your Time - How To Prioritize Your Tasks

Prioritizing Tasks:
The ability to choose and complete tasks in the order of importance highly desirable and more challenging for some business types than others.

In order to choose tasks you must be aware of as many chores and projects as possible. In order to do this, every planning session must have a list.

You Must Have a List!

List all your tasks, then rate them, and list them again in order. Then you can schedule them.
When all tasks and projects are rated, use these additional filters to prioritize:

• Imagine the consequences of eliminating the task. – This exercise will often remove some unneeded tasks altogether.
• Decide if each task should be performed in prime time or secondary time.
• Determine who will be affected by the task.

Now Reduce Your List
Until we can effectively clone ourselves to be in more than one place at a time, most of us need to reduce our workload.
Before you start prioritizing, consider these task elimination criteria:

Does This Task or Project Make Sense?
Every task you do should first have to pass this benchmark.
You have goals, priorities, and objectives. Does every task contribute to your big picture? Estimate how much time each task will take, and then imagine what you would do with the time if the task were cancelled. While not always possible, everything you do should contribute to your objectives.

Why is the Task Urgent?
While urgency should be a mindset of business, urgency should also be questioned – ruthlessly.

Is the urgency only appeasing someone else?
What has caused the urgency? Many urgent situations have been caused by mistakes. Determining the cause of urgency can eliminate or postpone a task and lead to prevention measures of interruptions and mistakes.

Some seemingly imperative tasks are not urgent at all. Customers might be making demands that are unnecessary.
Check with all parties involved.

The Delegation Qualifier
Are you the only person that can handle the task?
Sometimes you might be, but many times someone else can perform for you. Delegate everything possible to free up your schedule.

How Else Could the Task Be Done?
Are You Utilizing Technology

Could an in person appointment be a phone call?
Conference calling can rule out travel and save an enormous amount of time.

Could you email instead of calling?
Email can be done on your terms when you want. You will have time to articulate better compared to the live telephone conversation. Time can be wasted and sales lost by leaving phone messages for people. Email eliminates phone tag.

Can the Task Be Dissected?
Are there portions of the work that can be delegated, eliminated, or postponed?

What is the Cost of Excluding a Task?
There are many jobs throughout the day that are actually not worth the time to do. Applying the dollar figure when considering cancelling a task is another measure of the task value.

The Measures of Task Value

Money – How much is the task worth?
Time – How much time will it take?
Effect – Completed versus Cancelled
Effectiveness – What is the most effective way to perform the task?
Contribution to Your Objectives
Replacement – (What could be done with the time instead?)
Division- Dividing the Task into Parts
When – Can the task be performed just as well in secondary time?


One great trick for prioritizing is to give every task a deadline.

Give tasks a deadline.

While many SME owners define a start time for projects and tasks when planning, they do not establish a deadline. Having a clear deadline makes tasks easier to prioritize.

Prioritizing while planning is easy. You have time to think. Prioritizing while working is a bit more challenging.

Prioritizing Interruptions

While most people are familiar with prioritizing tasks, few people prioritize their interruptions.
Hence, few people have defined the types of events that interrupt them.

Define Interruption Types

In order to take control of your time, you must minimize interruptions. Many SME owners describe their positions as managers, and define management as 'putting out fires,' or solving problems. While having a job definition for yourself is a great start, most owners have not defined or classified these problems. They just catch every ball tossed at them. The tail is often wagging the dog.

Think about how you are interrupted from your OUT or productive work. Make a list of every kind of interruption you have experienced in the last three months.

Strategies to Earn Customer Loyalty

The key of your business success is building customer loyalty. Holding on to existing customers is as important as soliciting new customers to keep feeding your list with fresh subscribers. Customer loyalty is the key to your business growth and profit. Because loyal customers generate a continual revenue stream through repeat purchases, they bring your business-increased profitability at a lower cost.

Like in any other moneymaking system, to succeed as an email marketer, you will need to understand all the secrets that are available to keep growing your business and apply them immediately.

How to Build a Business Relationship to Gain Customer loyalty!

Everywhere you go online they tell you that you must have a list to succeed. That's true but it doesn't go far enough until you understand exactly what makes subscribers eager to pay for your products, success will remain subtle.

If you don't know how to build a business relationship to keep your subscribers enthusiastic, eagerly waiting for your articles and rush to buy your product without any regard for brand, your list is worthless.

Hands down the main key factor of a responsive email list is the Trust Factor. If you earn your subscribers trust, you will have much more success when it comes to advertise to your list. Without the trust of your subscribers, they will be leery when it comes to pulling out their credit card to buy from you.

1 - Earn your subscribers' trust

Honesty is essential to earning customers' trust, and that trust is the key to gaining customer loyalty. Earning customers trust is important to the success of any business. Being honest goes with not hiding anything.

Let your subscribers know your Identification and contact information, such as your name, physical address, email address and telephone number. It is important that you let your subscribers know how to contact you for assistance. The more they know you as a person, the more they'll trust you. And when it comes to asking for money, nothing is more important than trust.

Warning: Be sure to be selective in what you promote to your subscribers. If you suggest a product that turns out to be a scam, your subscribers will likely blame you first for recommending it to them. You really can't afford to take a hit like this to your reputation.

2 - Give Them What They Want

When your subscribers sign up to your ezine, they are doing so for a reason. They want the information you are telling them they will receive. Keep giving them that, and they'll be happy as can be. Diverge from that, and you could find yourself losing subscribers quicker than you can get them.

Tips: Ask Your Subscribers what they want. Don't guess. Use this great, easy to use online tactic to find out exactly what your subscribers will buy from you or what subject they want to learn about. You could hold a contest. By sending them simple questionnaires or surveys will give you a sense of your market's needs, wants and preferences. Give the winner a quality prize and/ or gift that he can't find elsewhere. Getting your subscribers involved like this will also keep them interested in your emails and help get more emails opened.

3 - Don't send "too many" marketing messages.

Two thing you really need to watch, as a publisher, is how to advertise your product/ service and what product you endorse. Nothing ticks off a subscriber more than thinking a publisher is only in it for the money. This will happen if you advertise too much, or if you advertise the wrong products.

Sending out an email newsletter with too much ads and a little or no quality information will hurt your reputation. You have everything to lose, and nothing at all to gain by stuffing your Ezine with ads.

The ads in your Ezine aren't the only things you have to worry about. This also includes any ads you send out that are separate from your regularly scheduled newsletter. Sending out an ad each day is not the way to go if you want to build customer loyalty. It is the way to go if you want everyone to unsubscribe from your list

4 - Make your subscribers your friends!

Give your subscribers a good sense of who you are. It's important that your subscribers see you as a real person, because they will likely never meet you in person. One thing every successful publisher does is just talk about whatever is on their mind in each issue of their Ezine. They may talk about their family, their favorite sports team, politics, the weather, anything that's going on. They usually ask the reader to write back a few comments about it, or the reader will just write back without being asked to. This creates a bond between the publisher and the reader that could result in future sales and future partnerships.

5 - Over Deliver

Nothing makes people happier than knowing you pay attention to them. Make your customers and potential clients delighted by giving them more than they expected. After they order your product or sign up for your publication, give them a gift or a bonus that wasn't advertised, in addition to any gifts or bonus you promised they would get. I'm not talking about any ebook or software they can download from any website. Give something that no one or only a few other people are giving away. This kind of gift and bonus says that you put a lot of attention and thought into helping them succeed.

From time to time and in special events send free gifts just for the heck of it. By continuously over delivering, your subscribers will realize that you are trying to help them learn what they need to know, and they will appreciate it when you give them the tools and information they need to succeed. This is obviously geared more towards strong relationship and they stay loyal customers longer.

6 - Help Them Out

Besides giving your subscribers what they want, helping them with whatever they need help with is the best way to earn customer loyalty. While this works on an individual basis, instead of taking care of all of your subscribers at once, the people you are able to help will be very grateful, and will probably tell their friends, colleagues and neighbors about you. Positive word-of-mouth is a powerful way to acquire new customers and build customer loyalty.

If one of your subscribers sends you an email asking for help, help them out as much as you can. Don't just give them a quick, one word answer. They'll probably just be back asking for a little more information. Just go ahead and tell them what you can, and be nice about it, even if you think it's a stupid question.

7 - Don't Use Hype

I'm sure you've seen this before. It seems to be everywhere you look people trying to hype-up their offer to make it sound better than it is. Most people just want you to be straight with them.

If you just stick to telling the truth about a product, without making it look like hype, I think your subscribers will have much more respect for you. Personally, I think its stimulating when someone sends me a sales letter and outlines how I can benefit from it without trying to make it sound better than it is. Most people can tell the difference, and will probably be turned off by the hype.

The bottom line

When you combine all of these keys, you'll build a strong relationship with your subscribers and they stay loyal customers for years. All you need to do is find a way to include all of these keys into your business marketing strategies, and you'll soon find yourself getting new subscribers, building relationships with and earning customer loyalty.

Goal-Setting

What would you like to achieve in your lifetime?

Author Basil S. Walth once said, "If you don't know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?" These are words well spoken, because whether you're working toward freelancing full-time or selling your novels, you need a roadmap.

Goals are indispensable. They provide direction, long-term vision and short-term motivation. They separate the important from the irrelevant. Goals also build self-confidence by helping you grow as an individual.

Olympic athletes, successful business people, and (hint…) bestselling writers are goal setters. You aspire to greatness too, don't you? If you do, and you're not already setting goals, now is the perfect time to start.

Five Things to Remember When Setting Goals:

1. Write Goals Down

Always jot down your goals-this is powerful. The process of physically seeing your goals helps crystallize them in your mind. This process also better enables you to commit to them.

Interesting Fact: A popular Harvard Business School study once found that only 3% of the population records their goals in writing. Another 14% have goals but don't write them down, whereas 83% do not even have clearly defined goals. More interesting is that this 3% earned an astounding ten times that of the 83% group!

2. Make Goals Short, Attainable, & Measurable

Set attainable short-term goals that can be measured. This means setting quantifiable goals.

Here are some examples:




Commit to writing a certain number of words each week


Submit at least two articles a week


Find two new markets each week


Take at least one writing course a year


Attend at least one writer's conference a year

Make your goals attainable so you won't get discouraged. The short-term goals above are attainable for me, but they may not be for you. Or maybe for you, my short-term goals aren't challenging enough.

Goals are very individual. You have to set your own goals…remember, you're charting your own course to success!

On the other hand, don't set wimpy goals simply because you're afraid to fail. Talane Miedaner, author of Coach Yourself to Success (McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 2002) notes: "People sometimes give themselves 'weeny' goals-they play it safe so they don't fail…But the bigger the goal, the more likely you are to achieve it."

3. Create Deadlines

Without deadlines, your goals are merely dreams. Set deadlines for both short- and long-term goals, and I promise, you'll get there sooner!

Remember that deadlines can be flexible. Life changes and so do goals. Never be afraid to adjust the timeframe for a goal. What's important is to keep moving forward.

4. Look at your goals everyday!

Visual aids are an effective way to program your brain.

Reading and re-writing goals are two very effective visual aids. By physically rewriting your goals and pasting them in places you regularly frequent, you make them more real in your mind.

I read an article in this month's Shape magazine that inspired me. The author mentioned that before Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the bestselling book & Oprah Pick Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (Warner Books, 1995) became a bestselling author, she pasted her name on the #1 spot of the New York Times bestseller list and posted it on her computer. Visual Aids like these give you that extra ammunition that will make a difference.

5. Make Goal Setting a Routine

Begin every morning with a "To Do" list. This will help you organize and better manage your time. Plus, your goals will be right smack under your nose every day. Do not get discouraged over any unfinished items. Simply transfer them to the next morning's list.

The above said, keep your goals front and forward in your mind. Remember...you only get one chance to live your dreams!

In the words of Cecil B. De Mille: "The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication."

Emergency Fund

Many Americans today don't have a savings account or emergency fund. I heard on the news recently that the Commerce Department reported that Americans spend all the money they have and personal savings rates have reached the lowest level since the Great Depression.

Your emergency fund is your safety net: in case you get sick or lose your job you can use your emergency savings to hold you for a few months until you can find a new job.

Your emergency account should be separate from your checking or savings accounts and should only be used for emergencies such as an unexpected expense, unemployment, medical bills, etc.

An emergency fund should be enough savings to pay your bills for at least 3 to 6 months. Money for an emergency fund should be readily accessible and stored in a checking or savings account, preferably a high-interest savings account, such as Emigrant Direct or ING or a money market account where you can make money while saving money.

To determine how much money is needed to pay 3 to 6 month's worth of your bills do an inventory and write down all your bills and expenses and the monthly amount spent for each. Calculate the total. Use this amount and multiple by 3 or 6 to determine the total amount you need to save in your emergency fund.

Make sure you do some comparison shopping before opening an account for your emergency fund to ensure that there are no minimum or other fees for accessing your account. A good source to use is http://www.bankrate.com. <

You can start off by contributing small amounts to your emergency fund until you are able to contribute more. Start off with a contribution of at least $20 a month to your emergency fund. Once you are able to contribute more to the fund do so. Make several short-term goals for your emergency fund. Once you have saved enough money to pay one bill, pat yourself on the back. Then keep saving until you have enough to pay three bills and so on, until you have enough saved to pay your bills and expenses for 3 to 6 months.

Once you have reached your emergency fund goal, it is time to start developing some long-term goals such as an additional savings account and to start planning for retirement. A great site to learn about retirement planning is http://www.morningstar.com and look under the Personal Finance section.

Having an emergency fund will ensure that you are on the road to becoming financially secure and will prevent you from going into debt when an unexpected tragedy happens or unexpected expenses arises. An emergency fund is the first step to getting out of and staying out of debt.