A good start to 2019.

On this first day of 2019 as the sun rises I’m surrounding myself with gorgeous music:

The first day of the year is a good time to reflect on the previous year, and look forward to the future.

2020 is just 52 weeks away… that date always felt like the distant future when I was growing up!

As each year passes I want to have progress in my life; better finances, more wisdom, etc.

I started 2018 by purchasing a wicked fast motorcycle, then I went out and rode the wheels off it, making my mother worried in the process. Truth is I only had one dicey moment in that entire year, on a country road on my 2nd day of ownership. I was going too fast into a curve and I hit the rear brakes too aggressively causing the rear wheel to slide at 70 mph. My guardian angel was paying attention that night, for sure.

Of course, I also drove 40,000 miles in my Chevy Volt selling solar from Citrus County all the way down to Naples. This was certainly the best sales year I’ve had in my entire career, I closed around $3 million dollars in personal solar sales.

When 2018 started I had NO sales team to speak of, now I have six guys who actually came together in December and closed $617,000 in solar deals. That was a record month for us.

My team was closing deals until 7PM New Year’s Eve!

I spent a ton of time working with my team in 2018, getting to know them, teaching them sales, running sales appointments… this was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done professionally. Sometimes I invested in people and they did not work out, but I did my level best to bring everyone to success.

Towards the end of 2018 I taught the Debt Free class at Harvester Methodist in Land ‘O Lakes, and I also continued to pay off my mortgage.  My goal is to pay off my home THIS YEAR, so I’m keeping my lifestyle low key while I do that.

2018 was the first year I lived AN ENTIRE YEAR on less than HALF of my income, and living in this manner totally eliminated financial stress from my life. When I had a big month I merely paid off MORE of my mortgage, when I had a more modest month I didn’t worry about it at all!

The one exception to my frugal lifestyle was the purchase of my motorcycle.

In September my sciatica started acting up and I reconnected with Dr. Gary Torres, Dr. Torres does acupuncture and chiropractic. He got me walking again, and I’m determined to maintain my health BETTER in 2019.

In the least few months I started using Intermittent Fasting and doing some light YOGA !!!!!!!!!!

Yoga is truly the Fountain of Youth, there are many YouTube videos featuring 100 year old folks in good health doing yoga. Amazing stuff, between the acupuncture and yoga one of my goals is to achieve optimal health in 2019…. and not just a diet, but a better lifestyle. Sciatica sucks, so does excess body fat and stiff joints!

You have to go into 2019 with an intentional path, otherwise the year will just slide past.

My biggest professional goal (in 2019) is to help my solar team get to $1 million a month in sales. Let’s see if we can do that… we were already at 60% of that goal last month.

I hope you have a great 2019, despite politics, despite bad stuff in the news.

God Bless!

Ben Alexander

January 2019……………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

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A Mission vs. a Living

May 2011 , car, Pigfest 060house with solar

For 14 years I owned a company that I was NOT passionate about, but it made me a living. It paid the bills, it got me 8 minutes of fame.

I was making a living, meh.

The day I sold that company was like a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders.

2 years ago I jumped fully into the solar biz and I found a MISSION that also helped me earn a decent living.

Every man needs a MISSION that ignites his passion and stretches him to his full talents and abilities. Solar gave me that, and now I’m building a sales team that shares my mission, my passion, and my purpose.

I feel very lucky to have aligned my income with my mission, most people are not that fortunate.

I get up six days each week excited and ready to go.

If you can find YOUR mission try to align that with your career. I tripled my income when that happened and my work became more meaningful. One of the main reasons I’ve found success is that my clients can see that passion in me, and want to do business WITH me.

This is not just another dumb sales job for me, and that makes a huge difference.

In 2019 Tampa Bay Solar is starting a program that identifies families who have lost a breadwinner due to combat (or in service as a firefighter or police officer) and we are installing one free solar array each month to help these families get rid of their energy costs.

If you know of a family that owns a home and has lost a breadwinner to death or disability please reach out to me via this blog,

Thanks!

Ben Alexander

January 2019

 

 

Solar for families of the Fallen.

front of roof

Starting in 2019 Tampa Bay Solar will donate one rooftop solar array per MONTH to a family in need.

We are looking for homeowners that have lost a breadwinner to either disability or death in service to our country. The home must have a south facing roof for the system to be the most effective.

As a veteran-owned organization we are aware of the financial struggles that a family faces when they lose a spouse or parent’s income.

The system will be a 16 panel solar array with an inverter, and this will lower the electric bill about $1,200 per year for the family in need. Since rooftop solar lasts 30 to 40 years this will have a long-term benefit for the family, and if they sell the home in the future they can also sell their home for a higher price.

Solar on a roof is the gift that keeps on giving!

If you know of a family in Tampa Bay that meets this criteria please reach out to me via the comments section of this blog,

Thanks, and Happy New Year!

Ben Alexander

Sales Director

TampaBaySolar.com

January 2019

Ha, kids don’t scare me!

cell-phone-2007-2008-120

This is me and my daughter Claire, the picture was taken when she was 10 years old… she’s in her third year of college now!

I was married for 20 years, and during that time both my daughters grew up and I was able to be there for them. I ran my company out of my home, so I was there when they left for school in the morning and there when they came home. In a few weeks my girls will be 19 and 21 years old! My youngest (Grace) is away at college, and Claire is home with me, she commutes to school and also works full time.

In many ways I had it easy, my girls were smart and self disciplined, they were always pretty good at doing homework and their mother made sure they got to violin lessons every Friday night without fail. They had the usual teen drama between ages 13 to 17, but other than that I never felt overwhelmed as a parent.

I’m really proud to say that my daughters have reached adulthood and they are strong, confident young women, with a great moral compass and a strong work ethic. Both girls will finish their degree with no college debt and a decent GPA, what more can a parent ask for at this stage in the game?

I’m single now, and my role at Tampa Bay Solar gives me the time and income to do what ever I want. I just finished my 3rd book, and I’m kicking around ideas for the next one… I’m 44 and single… and as crazy as this may sound I’m open to having more kids!

Some guys shy away from dating a single Mom. Maybe they fear the commitment, or they refuse to be involved with a child that is not biologically linked to them.

Kids don’t scare me. I’ve been there and done that. Diapers, tantrums, toys everywhere… all the chaos that ensues when miniature humans are running around the house. And I kinda miss it. I loved taking the kids to see Santa, or riding the rollercoaster at Busch Gardens, or going to see the animals at the zoo.

There is a ton of work with kids; meals that need to be cooked, clothes that need washing, books to be read at bedtime… but there is also a ton of silliness and laughter and joy in having a child in your life. I think the joy makes the hard work worth it.

I might be single for the next decade, and if there’s a child in my life they’ll call me “Grandpa”, and that would be ok. We all take on different roles in different seasons of our lives… but I don’t mind being “Dad” again. I still have plenty of awful jokes to share.

Ben Alexander

December 2018

 

 

God Honors Commitment.

Image result for giant scissors

This morning I taught the last class in a 5 week Debt Free program at my church. This was my 2nd time teaching the class, one of the families who took the course 2 years ago paid off over $100,000 in debt since then!

It is my sincere hope that this second round will help more families do the same. This time we had 2 college kids attend the class, they will certainly benefit from what was taught, If every college kid in the United States took this class it would transform an entire generation.

Debt sucks, yet there is a trillion dollar marketing machine designed to convince the public that debt is ok, everyone does it, etc….

I always bring a pair of scissors to my last class and we encourage folks to chop up their credit cards.  One of my students was reluctant to chop up several of her credit cards, and this is what I told her:

“God honors commitment, by chopping up those cards you are making a commitment to your own financial stability, and your own freedom from debt.”

She actually went out to her car, got the cards and chopped ’em up! I was proud of her for taking that step, and that one small action will have huge repercussions for her financial future.

It was a great day.

Ben Alexander

December 2018

 

 

Tone and Influence

Image result for mlk JR

I run a sales team at Tampa Bay Solar, and one of the main challenges in that role is figuring out the best way to sell, then duplicating that technique with my team.

One of the best “natural salesman” I’ve ever witnessed is a friend of mine named Bill Siveter. He would go out with a door to door crew selling anything and personally close 25 deals in a few hours, while the next best guy might only close 10 or 15.

Bill was earning $50,000 a year selling newspaper subscriptions to hard-ass Philly customers when he was only 16 years old. Today he runs a nationwide marketing firm with countless sales reps working all over the country.

In a sales situation Bill always channeled a calm / good natured confidence and people intuitively trusted him. If he got an objection he would deflect it without losing his center. In many ways he was displaying an intuitive leadership energy that made it easy to close the deal.

In contrast to Bill I was recently watching one of the reps on my team at a sales call. To protect the innocent let’s call him “Joe”. Joe actually started speaking in a higher pitch when he was addressing the client… like the client was doing him a favor by talking to him. There was no leadership in that tone, zero influence. I stepped in at that point, turned the energy around 180 degrees, and closed the deal.

Joe had worked as a waiter before he joined my team, and the same type of submissive tone he was using with the client (that drove me insane) was similar to the tone he used to use as a waiter. Waiters are not leaders. No one follows a waiter.

No one follows a follower. Followers don’t close deals, they rarely earn a high income, and they tend to “settle” for a sub-optimal life. Fuck that.

In order for Joe to become a strong closer he needs to totally change his tone of voice and start to channel confidence and leadership in front of HIS clients.

Joe’s “waiter” tone actually rose at the end of each sentence, making him sound weak and unsure of his own statements. A leader DROPS the tone at the end of each sentence, this imparts solidity and strength to the statement.

In thinking about Bill and Joe I realized that effective salespeople have all adopted strong leadership characteristics. It is easier to trust someone who is clearly a leader, and trust is the unspoken objection in all sales transactions.

I’ve included a picture of MLK Jr. with this post because he closed one of the biggest deals in US history; he influenced our government to pass the Civil Rights Act, but more than that he showed people that change did not have to be violent. That’s leadership right there.

MLK Jr. was also a talented and passionate orator, a skill that he mastered as a reverend.

Ben Alexander

December 2018

 

 

Swipe Right, Swipe Left…

march-2011-028(This was originally published across several magazines in Tampa Bay as a three part series, I included all three parts in this post)

Part One:

So there I was, suddenly single after a 20 year marriage. I could go live in the hills in a cabin like the Unabomber and never meet anyone, or I could start dating again. I had met my wife in 1995, and married her in 1997. Dating was very different back then, you actually met people… then called them on a LANDLINE and asked them out on a date. Imagine that kids!

So how does a single guy meet people in 2018?

My work in the solar business is primarily with married people who own homes, and 99% of my coworkers are male, so I wasn’t going to meet anyone at work. How about church? I go to the traditional service at Harvester Methodist… the average age of our congregation goes down by a decade when I walk in the room. There are very nice single ladies in church, but they’re all 82 years old, and I’m only 44.

My single friends told me to go online, that’s where are the lovely single women are hiding, right?

The first site I tried was E-Harmony. This site asks you 500 questions that delve into your inner psyche and match you to the perfect person. I figured I would find someone awesome in 20 seconds. E-Harmony started matching me to 3 or 4 people per day, and they were… not attractive. About a week in I was finally matched with a woman whom I found attractive so I sent her a text message through the site. No response. Let me say in my defense that I’m rather hideous myself, with an average body and a very forgettable face.

It was much easier to date when I was 21 and trim.

What I did not know at the time is that women on dating apps only respond to about 2% of the texts messages they get, and pretty women are inundated with “shout outs” from men online. After talking to some single women I was shocked to learn that some pretty ladies get 200 to 300 messages per DAY from various online dating sites!

So I cancelled E-Harmony, it was too slow. I needed to increase the number of single women that I could contact. Several friends recommended a hook-up app called Tinder. Tinder is an app on your phone that lets you swipe a picture to the right if you like someone, swipe left if you don’t.

One of the guys at work told me “Just swipe right on everyone, see what you get”. That same day I got a text through the app that started with “Hey Daddy” then went R-rated soon after. Someone liked me…  she was only 24 years old and very pretty. I began to get suspicious. After a few texts she offered to come see me at my home… “but what would I give her in return?” My response was “??” Her response was “U look nice but I need 3 bills to come see U”. I thought about this for a minute. Three duck bills? Three dry cleaning bills? Oh. This beautiful R rated woman wants $300 to come to my house. Got it.

Delete, Delete, Delete. Maybe Tinder works for younger people, but I don’t want to have anything on my phone that leads to a sting operation with the Pasco County police. Or worse, I had images of this young lady coming to my home and letting in her jealous “boyfriend” who would then beat me over the head and steal my flat screen TV. Not my style.

Match.com seems to advertise all over the place, so I finally got on the site and had some luck.

I could send a text to an unlimited number of ladies, then they could look at my profile and actually read it, something that no one on Tinder actually does. There aren’t many pictures of me that are decent, but I found a few and put together a profile. I even showed my Match profile to some female friends and they approved.

The advantage of Match is the sheer number of single people who are on the site, from 18 to 80 years old. You can reach out to anyone, and you can filter the search box for variables like distance and age range. The disadvantage is that Match will keep your profile up even years after you cancel the service, which means you might be reaching out to someone who is no longer on the site!

But there is also a feature that shows you who has looked at YOUR profile. I started to text the ladies I liked on Match, then I would look to see if they took a gander at my profile.

Part Two

There are many kinds of dating sites for many different demographics. FarmersOnly.com for folks who know how to milk a cow and muck out a barn, JDate for people seeking a Jewish partner, Tinder for young people looking to hook up TONIGHT, BlackPeopleMeet.com, Grindr for men seeking men… and many others.

As a 44 year old middle-class guy I discovered that Match.com was the best fit for my stage in life. There are a ton of single people on Match from this area, and users pay a small monthly fee to interact with other singles. Charging a fee eliminates the people who are not serious, or can’t afford $22 a month! I made sure my profile was coherently written and free from egregious grammar errors.

From discussions with several women I discovered that men who can’t write are quickly eliminated from consideration, so are guys with fishing pictures, shirtless gym selfies and pictures of their Corvette. (However, I understand that pictures with your favorite Holstein gets you lots of attention on FarmersOnly.com!)

I tried to design my Match profile in such a way that I came across as an attractive human being with a job who was not harboring Ted Bundy proclivities on the side. After all, the major problem with online dating is the safety issue for women, and since I have 2 adult daughters I worry about this from a father’s perspective. Bill Cosby looked harmless when he was hawking Pudding Pops but he turned out to be a monster, who saw that coming?

In this regard I applaud all the brave women who have the courage to get out there and date online. There are basic ways to be safe; meet someone publically, look them up online, etc… but there will eventually be a point when you are alone with a new boyfriend, and you want to make sure he is a good guy you can trust.

So how does one go from looking at an anonymous profile to sharing a glass of wine at a nice restaurant? I would send her a message (through Match) and ask her if we could have a phone conversation. Apparently there are folks who will text each other forever and never go on a date! The goal is to actually meet, so if I was able to finagle a conversation with someone I could figure out if our personalities were a match before we met.

These conversations were really revealing. I had a phone call with a woman who had stunning pics on Match, she was lovely, no doubt… but I could tell our personalities did not mesh. I told her so over the phone: “You are a beautiful woman, but we are not a match, I can tell from this conversation.”

Then there were the times when the conversation was great… but when I met her she looked NOTHING like her profile pics. This is a common problem with online dating. People use decade old pics from when they were thinner, had less wrinkles, less wear and tear on the old chassis. I tried to use recent pics (last 2 months) on my profile.

For a few months I went on several dates per WEEK, perhaps trying to prove something to myself… and making the mistake of DATING quantity over quality. I’m old-fashioned in that I believe the guy should pick up the tab if he invites a woman out. Dating started to get expensive.

I discovered that being the FIRST to date someone after their marriage has just ended is a waste of time. It takes time to process a divorce, I dated a lovely woman who had been in a 15 year marriage with an abusive spouse, she had a ton of unresolved issues that she had not dealt with yet. My heart went out to her, I was the first guy she kissed since the end of her marriage, but the shadow of her past abuse darkened everything between us.

A little bit of therapy is not a bad thing, especially if you just ended a marriage.

And this is when I realized that I was being a knucklehead.

I was not ready for another relationship, especially after ending a 20 year marriage. I took a realistic assessment of my own life and decided to shut down my Match profile for a few months. I manage a sales team for a solar company, so I invested my time in working with my team. I started teaching a Debt Free class at my church. I took my daughter hiking in the Rocky Mountains and we had a great time together. I even finished writing my third book.

There are times when dating online makes sense, and there are times when that time is better spent working on other goals…

Part Three

In the first 2 parts of this series I wrote about my experiences with different dating sites, and making the mistake of dating too much before one is ready.

Quick disclaimer; this is written from a 44 year old hetero-male perspective, so some details might be different for a straight woman or someone dating within the LGTB community.

But there are also some things about dating that are universal, no matter your gender or your preference. After taking some time off from dating (and using that time to write, pay down debt, grow my career, etc..) I realized that I wanted a very specific type of partner in my life; someone pretty and nice, with great character and honesty, intelligent and organized, a woman who was impressive in every way.

BUT, in order to attract a great partner with all those amazing characteristics I had to work on the guy in the mirror FIRST.

In order to attract an honest woman I had to make sure MY integrity was unimpeachable! We can’t change a mistake in our character from the past, but we can decide to be unfailingly honest moving into the future. Integrity and character can be intentional.

If I wanted to attract a healthy and attractive partner how was my health? I started to exercise more and clean up my disastrous eating habits. I had been ignoring my health for a few years, it was time to fix that!

If I want to have a partner with good finances how good was I at paying down my debts? For the last few years I had been paying off all my debt, at one point I started teaching the debt free class at my church! During my time off from dating I paid off over $20,000 in mortgage debt…

If I wanted an emotionally stable partner how stable were my own emotions? Sometimes this is hard to self-evaluate. At one point I found myself mourning the loss of my marriage, so I leaned into that and let the tears flow. Emotions come and go, like clouds in the sky… and there was a point when I needed to ask God for forgiveness and move on.

I’ve been single for just over a year now, and I’m ready to meet the right woman. She’s out there right now, maybe even reading this article!

I’ve been blessed with a big heart and the capacity and willingness to really love the right woman. God has a plan for me, and that plan might be a period of time as a single man. 1 year, 5 years, who knows?

One of my big goals is to totally pay off my home in the next year or so, something that very few men in my age range have done. The right type of woman should appreciate a man with that level of work ethic and financial discipline, right?

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If you have an unusual online dating story feel free to email me:

Ben@TampaBaySolar.com

Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

Ben Alexander

December 2019