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Is Internet Marketing Certification Worth the Expense?

The secret about Internet marketing is out. Now, major accredited universities are offering an Internet marketing certification program–either as a stand alone or as part of an overall business degree. You may have already seen the ads. Now, rather than having to choose between which online marketing education program to join, you now have the opportunity to pay thousands of dollars in tuition to learn many of the same skills. Is it worth the extra expense?

Right now, there are three general levels of financial investment you can make in your online marketing education: no financial investment, relatively small financial investment, and large financial investment.

The no financial investment option is where you obtain all the information you need for free. This is indeed possible. Internet marketers are a rather chatty bunch, and they like to share tips and tricks with each other and with newbies. You can find a literal gold mine of information just by hanging out on forums dedicated to Internet marketing. You can also find extremely helpful information in the myriads of free reports offered on thousands of independent Internet marketing websites and blogs, not to mention the website content itself. Giving out free information is a widely recognized marketing tactic, which is good news for you because the free information is often genuinely helpful.

The downside of relying on free information is that it will be up to you to organize it in a way that makes sense to you. One day you’ll learn about a particular search engine optimization strategy. Another day you’ll learn how to compose a pay per click ad. It will take a lot of reading and some trial and error to really start putting the pieces together enough to be able to launch a complete campaign. The process will be time intensive, so you need to determine the value of your time and see if it might be worth paying to have the information organized for you.

The organization of information is really most of what you pay for when you buy an online marketing education package. Someone took the trouble to tell you the first things you need to know, the first action steps you need to take, moving you through to the intermediate and advanced skills and action steps. The organized information could be offered as an ebook, a series of videos or webinars that you pay for, or a membership site with an ongoing fee to participate. You will find a number of paid opportunities to learn the basics of Internet marketing–enough for you to get started. My personal preference is with the membership site. Although it’s more expensive than an ebook, you have the chance to keep up with the changes in the industry. Like all things related to the Internet, online marketing changes very quickly.

The majority of the products that serve those seeking an online marketing education are geared towards those wanting to build an independent income stream online. You will be trained to build and run your own independent business. Many people have gotten into Internet marketing as a way to work for themselves, supplement their income or quit their job, and enjoy the good life without having to put in the grueling hours.

The most expensive option for getting an online marketing education is to go through a university. However, in some cases, the Internet marketing certification from an accredited university may be the best option. University training has traditionally been geared towards career and job seekers rather than entrepreneurs, and this is true with Internet marketing certification programs as well. The truth is that both small businesses and major corporations are recognizing the urgent importance of getting an online presence. Companies are already hiring people who can deliver that presence at high salaries. If you are looking for a stable job, the Internet marketing certification could become important. If you gained your online marketing education by reading an eBook or participating in a membership site, you may need to first demonstrate some significant Internet marketing success before a company will take you seriously. Once you do that, you may not want a regular job.

Everyone who applies themselves to learning the skills involved in online marketing can become successful at it. However entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Up until now, Internet marketing has been the playground for independent business owners. With the universities now offering online marketing education with the Internet marketing certificate to prove it and companies now hiring people specifically for internet marketing purposes, the field is now truly wide open for employees and business owners alike. This is the real value the internet marketing certification program offered by an accredited university brings to the industry. Whether or not it is worth the price tag of college tuition remains to be seen.

Your Business Needs To Be Certified

You have undoubtedly heard of Women, Minority or Veteran-owned certifications, yet you may be wondering, “Why bother?” Clients and prospects come to me to prepare certifications for several reasons; I decided to share a few of these with you so that if you recognize yourself in one of these scenarios, you can get additional information.

One of my current clients is going through the certification process because they have the opportunity to perform more work for a general contractor for whom they sub out work if they become “certified”. My client is a woman-owned business but they don’t have the certification to prove it. Once they get certified as a Woman Business Enterprise and enter the information into the Woman-Owned Small Business repository with the SBA, the General Contractor will happily funnel them more business. And why would they not, it’s a total win-win. The general contractor can continue doing business with a company they already trust and they can satisfy their small/minority business requirements at the same time.

Another reason my clients have chosen to get certified is in order to partner with other companies to bid on contracts. Oftentimes, Teaming Agreements are formed so that two or more companies can work together to win a large contract that the individual companies may not be able to win on their own. These situations sometimes mean that you are collaborating with a company that may otherwise be considered a competitor; but just as the acronym T.E.A.M. states – Together, Everyone Achieves More.

Most of the time, my clients decide on certifications because they want the opportunities that being certified can afford. Notice I said opportunities and NOT guarantees. Certifications are not an entitlement program nor do they guarantee the business concern that holds it anything. But what certifications are designed to do is even the playing field where it has been found to be uneven and to provide support where it has been found to be lacking.

Women and minorities business owners and small business in general, have not always had the same opportunities to perform as have large businesses. Certification programs have been enacted and goals set forth to bridge the gaps that have been found. As a result, 23% of all federal prime contracting and subcontracting dollars are to go to small business. Also, 5% of those contracts are to go to women-owned business. In an effort to support the men and women who served our country and were injured as a result, the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act set an annual goal of no less than 3% of the aforementioned federal prime contracting and subcontracting dollars to go to Service Disabled Veteran-owned Small Business Concerns (SDVOSBC).

I have identified the three main reasons I see most often for working through the certification process. These are by no means the only reasons to get certified if you are able. What I encourage you to do is to get informed, learn what you are eligible for and research the benefits.

Heal Starting NOW Via Trusting Your DNA!

An article I read in a Yahoo Group that is about strategies for the, ‘Sick Season’ told me that ‘We are all human’. It basically had positive moments, but it tended to go toward a feeling that humans are trapped in dealing with germs as if they were muggers lurking around every corner. I propose to share with you my truth that although I can get sick once in a great, great while, I don’t constantly shudder at statistical averages which cite that as many as ten colds a year are normal for kids and four per year for myself as an adult. I do wash my hands often enough. I eat right, exercise wonderfully and therefore I don’t fear any sick person who might cough in my face. (And I sneeze into my armpit.)

I take care of MY OWN immune system. This article has a point in reminding you that your immune system is… key word… YOURS. It is under your controls and guidance. I don’t tell my DNA to go ahead and lay down and take those sick days. Your DNA would really love you to tell them that you don’t have to give in easily to ‘Normal Statistics’ you read about in some article somewhere. The DNA in your cells wants you to tell them how healthy you are, not how vulnerable you are.

It happened that the morning I began writing this article, I had gone to bed the last three nights in a row and I had a sore throat each night. Before I went to bed I did physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual rituals that I will mention later. I did not lie down in bed quivering with the thought, ‘Oh that inevitable cold that everyone is getting is coming on!’ (…Or any Flu from swines or birds…etc!) There was not one ‘Poor me, there’s nothing to be done’ type of surrender voicing itself in my head. Each morning I woke up without any trace of a step-one symptom. I was back to feeling healthy. I went through a new day feeling fine.

Certain times in your life you do have emotional, physical, mental, energetic and spiritual drains coming at you that you must look at and you can deal with by using complementary medicine techniques. In those times your immune system needs extra help. I am NOT saying to NEVER consult a doctor of Western Medicine! There are miraculous machines that scan your body. There are operations to repair countless damages you have brought on through your habits and mind sets. However you can possibly feel better sooner than you have been lead to believe as dramatized in the onslaught of commercials for the drugs that flood the market that ask you to ask your doctor about this and that formula. If your middle name happens to be, ‘pill popper’, consider what I have written here! Take charge of yourself before running to the medicine cabinet filled with those popularized drugs!

A time of challenged circumstances is no exception to MY RULE. When that sore throat and tiredness comes back and seems relentless, I don’t ever simply expect a progression through symptoms that will put me on my back and in bed for a week or more. I don’t consciously or even subconsciously welcome a well deserved rest from my life where I will enjoy family members waiting on me as mom did when I was a kid. (Fun vacations are a much better way to take a rest when I am at my best, healthy self.) I don’t invite in the feeling that others love me more when I am vulnerable. There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable, yet I don’t have to be physically, emotionally or mentally ill to enable myself to be vulnerable at times and allow some one else to take care of me. You might need that at times, but I am telling you that I don’t have that modus operendi as part of a response to simple and even more challenging symptoms. These words are not set out to give you a case of what is termed, ‘New Age Guilt’. Please get inspired.

The third night of recurring symptoms is when I had replaced my toothbrush and I continued doing some physical remedies like taking Loquat Syrup I get from the Chinese grocery store or elderberry syrup and/or a Wellness Capsule I get from the health food store and putting eucalyptus oil on my throat and a scarf over it all night after breathing in it’s properties in steam. I also laid in bed and did mental-energetic-spiritual qigong in the form of alchemical formulas that balance my emotions as well as my energetic centers and acupuncture routes. After three days of recurring night symptoms I kicked that regression. The next day I stayed healthy and was my normal, healthy self. (It took me way longer to finish this article!)

My routine is to do over an hour of morning practices daily. I teach my morning class six times per week for another hour and I have an average of three extra classes that I teach. I share self-help techniques I’ve learned through Ancient Chinese understandings. Being able to teach others is one of the ways I find I retain my own health better than just doing it for myself. I catch up with extra sleep once weekly so I take that one morning off. When life is extra topsy-turvy, I get up out of bed during the night and do extra practices in another room away from my husband so as not disturb him. No tossing and turning for me!

My ways of dealing are certainly not the only ways an individual should learn to cope. There are many ways; hundreds and thousands of ways to do it, but you must find your own way and practice while you are healthy and not just when you are sick. You might be working more than one shift and have a truly stressful life. You can take a few minutes each hour to do some of the things I have mentioned. A few times a week you can get in a class from someone whose teachings appeal to you, or even read an inspiring article.

Stop spreading the negative mantras that tell you there is no recourse to a cold, flu (or even a life threatening illness.) Unless you really want those days in bed suffering, train yourself to be the empowered energetic self-healer who is connected to the one Healing Source, no matter how you name him/her/it. I like to believe you have to ‘put out your hands’. to ‘catch a cold’ in the same way as catching a ball. Step aside! Don’t be guilty, make excuses, or feel sorry. Train your immune system daily. And if you do ‘come down’ with something, know right away that it is temporary. (Notice the phrase, ‘come down’… That is a clue to your subconscious that you better get back up again, don’t you think? Well I DO think that!)

I have come to the understandings of biologist Bruce Lipton, whose website can be found via search engines on the internet. I find there is comfort in the research he offers and the history he shows supporting a ‘new paradigm of thought’ being popularized that has been around for thousands of years. His website, last I looked, has free articles in his archives. You can glean from it some of the theories that have been enhanced by previous studies on the subject (since the 1960’s), of why our minds are now proven to control our cells and therefore our genes. It is no longer Pollyanna-ism of ‘mind over matter’-type wishful thinking. So much research is now available and is proving that we are best NOT cowering in fear of germs or even of inheriting a disease from our parents and other genealogically close relatives. Studies have shown that adopted children can have just as many tendencies to get a disease of their adopted parents. They become open to getting the illness because they have psychologically opened up to the wound of the caretaker. It is the fears and cowering attitude itself that informs your cells that you are vulnerable and opens the genes to your thought language which is proven again and again as the major key to bringing on disorders of the body, mind, emotions, spirit and energy. Your thoughts are precious and need to be guided with your good intention by developing your subconscious understandings of this truth: Your DNA does support and materialize just about everything you believe.

The pharmaceutical world and medical establishment makes very much money on human frailties that are exacerbated by keeping from you the now well researched knowledge of your human ability to change your mind and change your cells. If people don’t train to discard fears… sorry to say it, but those above mentioned industries will still be the ones who are keeping you fearful instead of you yourself providing the education you need to transform your limiting beliefs and therefore your very own DNA.

The above information will help you to understand that negative mantras must be ousted from your habitual way of speaking to yourself. Now that extensive research continuously increases highlighting the ability our DNA has to be transformed by our language, we can NOW benefit greatly. Deep studies are being done all over the world. Start understanding that YOU are in CHARGE when you feel symptoms of sickness. The following is something I edited down to points which I found in a forwarded e-mail:

DNA Discoveries From Russia
1. DNA can be influenced and reprogrammed by words and frequencies without cutting out and replacing single genes.
2. 90% of DNA was once considered “junk DNA.”
3. Our DNA is not only responsible for the construction of our body but also serves as data storage and communication. It follows the same rules as all our human languages.
4. Therefore, human languages did not appear coincidentally but are a reflection of our inherent DNA.
Biologist Pjotr Garjajev and his colleagues explored the vibrational behavior of DNA. His team managed, for example, to modulate certain frequency patterns (sound) onto a laser-like ray which influenced DNA frequency and thus the genetic information itself.
5. In living tissue, not in vitro, DNA will always react to language-modulated laser rays and even to radio waves, if the proper frequencies (sound) are being used.
6. It is entirely normal and natural for our DNA to react to language.

This information edited and translated by Baerbel on 1/17/05 & condensed to 6 pointsby R. Cohan, from Internet forward Aug. 3, ’05

Build a Paperless World

Eyes of the world are turning to Copenhagen Climate Change Conference 2009. Delegates from 192 countries are trying to come up with a global agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation is one issue that is high on the agenda, the intergovernmental panel on climate change now estimates that the cutting down of forests contributes almost 20 per cent of global carbon emissions. We are facing the melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, expanding desertification, widespread drought and a series of problems, so we have to do something to avoid those in our daily life.

Some people might say, I have never cut down a tree in my life. Think about it, how much paper you consume every day? According to a case study by Heinz Center, 0.30 to 0.32 tons of carbon (1.11 to 1.17 tons of CO2) are emitted for every ton of paper produced. So building a paperless lifestyle is essential for reducing carbon emissions.

Building paperless office

PDF format plays an important role during the process. Use PDF format to create, display, interact and store can greatly reduce the consumption of paper. Also, wide use of PDF format can lower the cost for the office.

According to Adobe, over 1.5 billion PDF files have been downloaded from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website since 1998. Distributing PDF files online costs about a penny for 1,000 tax documents and forms, compared with about US$6 for each individual taxpayer order sent via mail.

For enterprise, dealing with paper flow is one of the troublesome challenges. Everything is paper-based, accompany with manual processes in the past. But now with the concept of building paperless office, we keep everything in PDF format. Contracts are saved in PDF format and sent via Email instead of fax. PDF/A is a file format for the long-term archiving of electronic documents, so keeping all the data in PDF format for future review and backup is reliable. A free Adobe Reader is the only requirement for viewing PDF files. Creating a PDF files is as easy as ABC since Microsoft Office 2007 has the save as PDF add-on. And it is easy to convert PDF to Word for editing. Dealing with PDF format is much easier than handling paper. Of course, a company can save the warehouse for data storage, the cost for paper, copy machines and fax facility. Meanwhile, paperless office has the power to benefit the environment and the communities.

Personal paperless lifestyle

Paperless lifestyle is also a fashion in our daily life. With the boost of E-reader, like Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, publishing and related print industries are facing revolution. We will change the traditional reading experience forever.

Do you still remember the last time you write a letter to your friends? Maybe some teenagers have never write a letter in their life because we are getting use to communicating with others via Internet and Email. We have Facebook, Twitter and some other social media. We send greeting e-cards instead of sending paper cards during Christmas. If a person have a good command of using Internet, creating and editing PDF, paperless world will make them more colorful and easier in daily life.

Transforming paper-based documents to digital-based documents is a main concept of reducing of paper consumption, which will control the deforestation, so that we can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Copenhagen Climate Change Conference is just a call to action.

For more information or software related to PDF such as PDF merger and password remover. Please visit: [http://www.anypdftools.com]. There you can find a lot of third-party software with different function related to PDF.

Real Estate Stories that Show You How

Let’s begin easing you out of the pits. I mean, comfort zone! I’m going to slowly and methodically give you as many little sparks and insights to the relatively simple ways that ordinary people use real estate to achieve extraordinary results.

Stories are the best spark plugs. They let you casually observe from a safe, secure and understandable view point. I will write to answer most of the questions that I feel I myself would ask if I was reading what you are about to read.

I want you to know something from the very start of this report and that something is this: I care about you and I sincerely mean that. I really do want you to move to a new comfort zone, one that is pleasurable and free from fear. A place where you realize you have the power to achieve greater things than you currently can imagine.

It’s possible for you to start being a more powerfully directed purpose-driven individual who is well organized and on track to higher achievement. You will change and grow, slowly and steadily with every page you read. With every thought and insight you gain, your desire and courage will grow as well.

Napoleon Hill wrote one of the greatest books of all time. It’s called “Think and Grow Rich.” The essence of that book, the secret it reveals time and again is this: you must develop a burning desire.

Don’t put this book down thinking the previous statement is cliché and that you already knew that! I am simply leading you to my next point, the next point being is – your desire needs a starting point. So to start developing desire, my secret is you must have a purpose. Why do you want to pursue real estate? I know what you’re thinking: to make money, to have security, to feel useful and appear successful. Good points. I agree you can have all of that and more if that is what you desire.

Now here is something that comes before any of those things you desire. What is the purpose of all those things? Purpose, purpose, purpose…you need to first define purpose before you get the things. My purpose, or so I thought early in my career, was to move up to a nicer house and have my first house become my first rental property. When I moved up to the next one, I quickly learned as soon as I rented it out, I was in some way responsible for creating happiness and security in the life of another person that was of no relation to me.

It soon was evident to me how the choices I made in choosing that first property either would help me or hurt me in my quest to succeed in the real estate investment business.

All of it is cumulative, everything you do and how you do it adds up. It compounds itself and it either makes your life easier or more difficult. I am going to give you experiences that you can learn from that will make your life easier; I am going to show you how. That is my purpose.

The book that gave me the unknowing courage to take my first steps in real estate was a book called “How I Turned $1000 into $3 Million in real estate in my spare time” by William Nickerson. He was a master storyteller and by osmosis, after reading his book, I found myself gravitating towards the real estate classified section of my Sunday paper.

Eventually I leapt and my life had changed. It was an FHA foreclosure, a two-bedroom, one-bath home with a built-in, screened-in pool, with a Jacuzzi and a built-in sprinkler system. I bought it for $46,000 and used the HUD 203K rehab program to fix it up. I spent $16,000 to update and make repairs. They then gave me one loan for a total of $62,000. It took me three months to complete it and I was in; I had done it!

My life changed, I learned, I took the leap. From then on I had confidence. I had already had my first home but now I had two. Well, I was in the Coast Guard and wouldn’t you know, three months later we moved. Uncle Sam took me out of St. Petersburg, Florida and dropped me in Kodiak, Alaska, for my next tour of duty.

Well guess what? I was armed with ambition, courage, confidence and just enough knowledge to be considered dangerous, so I bought a duplex as soon as I came ashore on Kodiak Island. Now I had three dwellings and my relationships and responsibilities were growing with my new tenants counting on me to provide a clean, functional and pleasing environment for them to exist in.

It looked like this: My mother rented my first house and an elderly couple rented the second one and my duplex came with an existing tenant who was a hospital administrator, so I was lucky. I was able to ease myself into the role of landlord without getting burned early in my career. I now had two houses and a duplex in the span of about one year. My brothers and some other family members took notice and were pretty well dumbfounded.

They couldn’t figure out how I had, all of a sudden, become a real estate wizard.

It felt good to make that change in so short a time.

I got that from reading a book! And that my friend is how you are going to do the majority of everything you do in real estate, by reading and taking steps towards duplicating the success of others in a repeatable pattern. The key is to understand that you can do it if you read the right books and apply the very basic formulas that are handed to you.
There lies in: Magic Bullets in Real Estate

This is a common man or woman’s real estate manual. William Nickerson never gave me anything so easy as “Magic Bullets!” So I learned trial by fire and it has been very gratifying. I’ve since went on to collect 17 properties, 23 tenants, 2 real estate licenses in Florida and Alaska, an assistant appraiser’s certificate and over a hundred books on real estate. I just kept learning and growing and gaining momentum for the last 13 years. I am still in the Coast Guard, too, and I work at Alaska One Realty in my spare time. In two more years, I will be retired at the ripe old age of 42. Sounds like a sort of fairytale, doesn’t it? Don’t let me fool you. It’s hard work and I’m still not a millionaire, but I want you to have the truth, so I will be honest with you every step of the way.

I know why I am not a millionaire and here is why. I would periodically sell property that was going up in value and paying for itself through the rent checks. But being in the Coast Guard would dislocate me every four years, so I found myself selling out in order to avoid being what is called “an absentee landlord.”

This is an important lesson for you. It has prevented me from becoming a millionaire up to this point. The lesson is: find an area on this planet that you could and will live in, and stay close to it. Don’t move more than 10 miles from your farm area. The farm area is where all your properties are located. Long distance “land lording” is tough! It can be done but you lose the ability to control the situation compared to if you were there. I’ve served my country and saved people’s lives, so for me it has not been in vain. I have no regrets but if you don’t have to leave your area of expertise, don’t!

The networks you build and the contacts you build, in the process of “doing” real estate, are so valuable that when they are no longer at your disposal, it puts you at a serious disadvantage.

Not to mention when you move you have to acclimate yourself to an entirely different market, build new trust-based relationships and start all over again. It’s like a treadmill you’ll be running and running, however it gets you nowhere.

I’ve used it to my advantage. I have been forced to accelerate my abilities to rapidly duplicate my success whenever I am moved, but it is still an uphill battle. My point: Don’t move too far from your farm or your network of bankers, appraisers, carpenters, tradesman, real estate, friends, tenants and so on. Once you have the skill you can duplicate your success anywhere you go but if you don’t have to go…enough said on that!

I like to say, “Don’t sell the goose to get the eggs.” What that means is if you need money to buy more property, use equity lines from other property to do it. You will get the same amount of money or more by using an equity line as if you sold it. However, you get to keep the asset and the money! I go into this in “Magic Bullets,” so I won’t drone on here. Just know you don’t have to sell your property to get the cash out of them.

So here we are. You know a little bit about me and you may have picked up a nugget or two. Let’s find a few more.

There once was a man who wanted to buy some investment property, so what he did was look at growth patterns. You should do this too, by going to your city’s planning and zoning department. You can see growth patterns and you definitely want to buy property that stands in the way of growth.

This is how he used what he learned. He saw that city planners had decided that a new artery (highway) would benefit their city by creating linkage to another city about 100 miles away, so being a smart investor he only went as far as a ten mile limit to be able to be close to his investment.

Now on average, new growth will radiate out from existing prosperous cities in the direction it is planned at a rate of about one mile per year. So our smart investor had a 10 – 12 year plan to cash out in about 10 – 12 years.

What he did was buy, I believe, 10 acres of commercially zoned property very cheaply because there was no demand at the time. He bought it, fenced it in, put up some lights and a gate, and held onto that little bugger. Now that new highway was coming his way and the good folks, through their taxes, were paying to have it built.

It didn’t take long for the heavy equipment to start cutting a swath towards his fenced-in storage facility and when they got close enough to him, he started renting out a secure area for everything, from road cones to generators to backhoes. You name it – it was stored there. This more than paid his land off.

Now the men and their equipment eventually moved on further down the trail but they left a finished highway behind them. And guess what? Low and behold, people started driving on it, and then started buying property to build houses on to get away from the city. Since the new highway was a straight shot into town, ten miles out was breeze.

Well, of course, here comes the herd and everyone is just populating the whole darned area. And within ten years, residential housing surrounds Mr. Investor, and can you guess what he’s got? Yep, a prime piece of commercial property, 10 acres large.

So in accordance with his 10-12 year plan, he sells his storage facility to make room for the new office/business park complex for over $2,000,000. That, my friend, is vision, and the sooner you get a clear picture of what it is that you want to specialize in, the sooner you can retire to the islands.

How hard was that? Don’t tell me you can’t do it, you can! I’m here to help you. I’m going to give you secrets no one else dares. Do you ever wonder why people won’t tell you the secrets? Of course you already know this but I’ll tell you anyway. It is because they are operating on a scarcity mentality, as though there won’t be any left for them. Or if learn something and act on it, you will get ahead and have a great life. Well, misery loves company and silent oppression is the rule.

Here’s a little story that poor quality real estate agents won’t appreciate either but I’m going to tell it to you anyway. The reason I can tell it is because there are some great real estate agents out there who absolutely don’t fear what I am about to tell you and would let you know it if they were in my position.

Here’s the deal: Some agents want to be like the Wizard of Oz. They want to create the appearance of marketing and transacting real estate as being technical and very legal, a deep dark mystery. Well, it’s not! The truth be told, you can write a contract on a napkin and it would stand up in court. I will emphasize here that you write on that napkin along with the terms of your agreement, “The terms set forth on this here napkin are subject to my attorney’s approval.”

An attorney will cover you completely for around $750.00. Prices may vary, however that is an average home transaction. There is a lot I am leaving out here but my point is this: If you own property, you can sell it anyway you want. “Magic Bullets” will teach you. Let’s move on.

Exposure is the key to finding buyers and sellers in real estate. If a property is priced fairly and everyone who is looking for that type of property knows that it is in the availability pool, it will be found and the transaction will proceed as advertised. Price it right, advertise it properly and let the lawyer take care of the details. No commission, just a flat fee. Period.

Now that I have that off my chest, I will tell you a story about Dan, a 21-year old friend of mine, and his wife and their new baby. He’s a hardworking guy who does his work without complaint and all the other “workers” pick on him for working so hard. Can you believe it? The other guys are so insecure and lazy that they make fun of a guy who is doing the work of three men, mainly of the three who are ridiculing him. Well, believe me, this doesn’t go unnoticed by me and I take him under my wing. Dan wants to buy a house, so I begin the process of saving him years of trial by fire and save him $25,000 at no charge. That is because he deserved my help.

Anyway, here is the story: I began with him by asking him what type of home he thought he would be comfortable with and a price range. He indicated a 3-bedroom for around $100,000.

Knowing what he wanted and knowing the area, I was able to take him shopping for the house he was looking for. Now I always go after the “For Sale by Owner” homes first because I know they won’t be adding any commission figure into their price, because they won’t be paying one. So at 6% of $100,000 he will get $6,000 more “house” for his precious dollar.

I also told him besides the “For Sale by Owner” homes, we would be looking at oddball discount companies that help distressed sellers further part with their money and property. The mentality of a seller who uses cheesy companies to help them sell their property is pennywise and pound-foolish. If you’re going to use professionals, then get a professional.

So off we go. After a day or so, we have found our house. Sure enough, El Cheeso Inc. has a sign on it. The screen doors are flapping in the breeze, the weeds are dancing on the lawn, but this house is indeed a 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 1-car garage with a fenced yard and it’s selling for $110,000. Well, due to the fact that there is a divorce in progress, and a new girlfriend who doesn’t like the place, and El Cheeso Inc. giving no representation, I negotiate for Dan and he gets it for $99,000. What’s so great about this deal is this exact same floor plan in another house was for sale down the street, on the same street, for $25,000 more.

The moral of the story is good things come to those who deserve it, and that is another key to real estate. You must work hard so others will take notice of you and help you succeed.

Here’s a beauty for you. This is about being in real estate circles and keeping your eyes and ears open and often times your “yapper” closed. This is the story of Brian and Julie. Here we have two hardworking souls. They have been married for 20 years and they have weathered the storms of matrimony. Julie works at a real estate office as an office manager. No real estate license, but she works at an office that sells a lot of waterfront property. So we are talking about location and being in the right place at the right time, and here comes a seller in the door of the office stating she is going to sell her older waterfront home. She is willing to take $180,000.

Julie tells Brian, they look at it and sure enough, this pearl is right on the water. She’s a gem waiting to be polished up, so Brian and Julie sell their condominium and move in. Well, they aren’t making any more waterfront property, so Brian goes to work polishing this jewel up.

Now, they have bought this house under market value in an appreciating market. So about one and a half years later, this property is worth over $350,000 and still climbing. Well, Brian is no dummy, so he gets to know his neighborhood. He strolls, takes walks and notices, you guessed it, a vacant, neglected jewel on an inside double lot. He tracks down the elderly lady, who is living with her sister, through the county records office and buys the house, including the extra lot, for a total of $120,000. Now Brian can walk to his new “jewel” and he starts polishing it. The neighbors start noticing and are amazed at his deal. He has offers of $180,000, $200,000 and $60,000 for just the lot. You name it. Now that the exposure is there, everyone wants a piece of it.

Well, this is what Brian did. He rented his first house out, moved into the second one and used plans that I gave to him to build a third house on the vacant lot, using the equity he accumulated from the first house that went up so much. And here’s how this thing shakes out: $180,000 for his first house and it’s value goes up to $365,000; he picked up the next jewel for $120,000 and he paid cash using the equity from the first house. Now he takes out a new mortgage on his second house for $120,000 and builds a third. The value at last count was $815,000 and he owed a grand total $300,000. That’s a half million-dollar profit in 5 years!

Now what does this story tell us? #1 – it says, “work hard”; #2 – keep your eyes open; #3 – use equity lines; #4 – don’t sell; #5 – learn how to be a landlord; #6 – be in locations that appreciate; #7 – buy things that are limited in availability; #8 – know how to research owners and repair property; #9 – get your partner’s help (spouse); #10 – use knowledgeable friends to help you see potential (I gave him the plans and advised him not to sell anything!).

Can you get any more lessons out of this story? I’m sure you can. Just read it again and think on it. Jot down your ideas and put them to work. Real estate is not that hard, folks! You can do it. With a few magic bullets, some spark plugs and a good mentor to show you how, you can do it too!

Let’s you and me talk for just a minute here, OK! Have you ever been really good at something and been able to step back and see the whole thing for what it is was? You just know exactly how to do it and you can see the end result clearly in your mind before you start. It’s predictable to you. It’s almost second nature, so you are comfortable doing it. It’s almost become boring to you; your comfort zone is such that you can do it in your sleep.

I’ve gotten that way with certain types of real estate and I see people everyday that are so afraid of taking the first step that they are literally paralyzed. They make excuses and put it off, and rationalize and live a quiet life of desperation. They don’t trust themselves and as a result of the unknown they can’t trust anyone else either. This is a vicious cycle because the longer they wait the more it reinforces their beliefs.

I just want to grab them by the collar, take them to the bank and make them tell the banker, “Pre-qualify me!” Then walk them out the door and show them how to do something that will change their life forever, and that is to buy the first property, and then a second. Then their fear is gone and they grow to be of service to everyone who is ready for their assistance.

Let me tell you this: After you finish reading the rest of this report and you read the “Magic Bullets” book, your fears will be subdued and you will do something and your life will change. If you cannot succeed with what I am intent on showing you, then something is not right. I believe your desire would be your major obstacle, so if that’s the case, read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and come back to me then.

Let’s get back to real estate education, shall we? Do you know who the largest commercial real estate owner in the U.S. is? It’s McDonalds Corporation. Yep, and on top of that, they also have the most valuable locations for their type of business. The research they do on demographics and traffic counts is unparalleled!

If you were ever going to open a fast food restaurant, just put it near a McDonalds. You would survive just on the volume of people who flock or pass by the location that McDonalds has already decided meets all the critical data to support their restaurant business. Your restaurant, if you had good food and service, would flourish. Just sell something a little different than McDonalds. That’s leveraging someone else’s expertise in evaluating a location for a certain type of real estate.

Now that is a principle and principles are like natural laws. A natural law always works in every situation in its own way. It’s like gravity – it always works! Here on earth, anyway.

So in real estate it doesn’t matter what type it is, whether it’s commercial, residential, industrial or recreational. Look for signs that serious market studies have been undertaken by major operators and buy things that can flourish in the presence of those concerns.

For instance, let’s use Home Depot as an example. If Home Depot decides to build on a site, every residential lot within a mile of that new center will be bought up as soon as the Home Depot commits to build! Why?

Because smart investors know that Home Depot has done the market study and the area will be a prosperous one.

On top of that, it will provide jobs, it will pay taxes, it will provide materials to actually build the neighborhoods with, and people will shop there once their houses are built. The same goes for Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and other smart business concerns.

You may or may not have noticed this but take a look the next time you are driving around. Here is what you should see. As you drive into cities from the suburbs, you’ll notice donut shops, gas stations with convenience coffee centers, bagel shops, and etcetera, on the side of the road that people travel to on their way into the city to go to work. These are morning activity business centers.
Now on your way home, out of the city, you will see restaurants that cater to the evening meal crowd: KFC, Taco Bell, Subway and Pizza Hut. That’s because people don’t go there for breakfast. They get it on their way home, outbound from the city at night. If you put your restaurant on the wrong side of the road, you could be making a huge strategical error. Think!

Location, location, location as they say, are the 3 most important things in real estate. That is a very true statement. With residential property, that boils down to safety, security and convenience. So buy homes in good neighborhoods, cul-de-sacs preferably. No noise or through traffic, no escape routes for thieves, and a private setting, where kids play in the street without getting run down.

Security = close to hospitals, police and fire protection for obvious reasons.

Convenience = stores, gas stations, restaurants, small businesses, parks and recreation and access to major highways to circulate or evacuate if necessary.

You might get a great deal on a piece of properly but if it takes you a half hour to get a loaf of bread. What kind of resale will that great deal offer? Another great deal may back up to or face a busy street. That’s often a poor choice as well…noise, pollution, the loss of privacy and curb appeal are all factors here.

The two best types of property to buy are:

1. Property that no one else knows is for sale! Why? Because you have no
competition.

2. Property no one wants! You just have to figure out why people don’t want it.

If you can turn that lemon into lemonade through some problem solving, that

jewel may just shine because you used the right magic polish.

In real estate, you get paid when you solve problems. That is a fact!

Here is a golden nugget for you. If you do this, it will catapult your real estate investment career. I guarantee you will gain more insight to real estate by doing this one thing than just about anything else you could possibly do. The golden nugget is this: Take a real estate appraisal course. It will fly by, a few weekends and it’s over, but the perspective and the information you gain from the class is priceless. It gives you vision, ideas and understanding. You will have an edge over every other investor who has not done it.

I had an instructor, who by some stroke of luck, I was privileged to be taught by. His name is Steven V. and he is truly a genius. This guy could make millions if he applied himself to real estate investment but he chooses to teach and give back to others in that way. He is very comfortable in life and money is a by-product for Steven. When I finished the class, I had appraisers wanting to hire me to go to work. Now I don’t want to work as an appraiser. I just want to think like one and that is why I took that four-weekend course. That class taught me more than both of my real estate licensing courses combined. The reason for that is real estate classes deal with state laws, contracts, regulations and ethics. Appraisal focuses on evaluating real estate and that is what you want to learn as an investor.

A real estate license can actually hold you back from being a savvy investor and here’s why: #1 – You have to announce to every seller that you are an agent. It’s an ethics rule and a disclosure law. Well, now the seller is on guard for all kinds of reasons and you waste precious time overcoming negative reactions. #2 – When you go to sell your real estate, the same things apply but add to that scenario the fact that if you make large profits on property that you sell, people can come after you, saying you took advantage of them because of your expertise. And they win!

So you don’t need to go to college for 4 years and you don’t need a real estate license. What you do need is a guy like me to convince you to go to appraisal school and read books like the one you have now.

Then go out and do it, using a lawyer to protect you every step of the way. Again, here is a good point to make. Simply weave into every agreement or offer you make the following statement: This entire agreement is subject to my attorney’s approval. I can’t stress that enough. That’s one line of text. That covers it all. It gives you time to investigate deals. It protects your interests and keeps you from getting burned in this business.

Here are a couple more beauties that I use to protect myself and you should too.
These are used with initial purchase offers:

1. Willing to pay X amount of dollars or appraised value, whichever is less.
(That says, “I’m only going to pay so much but if the appraisal is lower than

what I offered, than I am going to get it for the lower price. I don’t get

burned!)
2. Subject to my partner’s approval. (My partner was always my wife, and if she

didn’t like it, the deal was null and void, cancelled, over, kaput, finito.)

Now nothing says my partner wasn’t my dog, so if there’s no fire hydrant, well the deal could be off.

Those are examples of escape clauses that could be abused to the point of being called “weasel clauses.” Don’t be a weasel! They give you a short period of time to have the option to buy something first with the right to cancel the deal, contingent upon something or someone else’s decision.

I use them to protect myself and to get a little time to do my research on the property. Don’t use them to unfairly tie a seller’s hands. Be fair and try to move quickly when you do employ them.
What you are doing is creating a short time, zero-cost option to buy real estate. Here is a little trick and I don’t use it very often but it can be used in a fair manner so I will give you the nugget. When you write an offer to purchase property, on the top line of the contract is a line that indicates who the buyer is. On that line in certain cases, I will write my name plus the words or assigns, like this:
Buyers: Dan Auito or assigns

What that word “assigns” does is this: it allows me to sell by assigning my right to buy the property to someone else. Dirty dealers will take advantage of people with that word if they can get away with it.

Here’s where I would use it. In real estate, a lot of bargain hunters look for distressed property. You know, the fixer-uppers, the abandoned, condemned, fire-damaged stuff. I go a step further and look for distressed sellers such as death, divorce, relocation, but a lot of times I don’t specialize in that type of property.

That’s OK because if it’s a steal and I get it for 40 – 50% off, I will assign it to someone who does deal in that type of property and make a profit by assigning it.

I’ll always ask the distressed seller if that is a problem and if it is, I will buy it outright, then flip it but it costs more to do that. So I’ll explain this to the seller and get their permission to use it. I don’t slip it in on them. You will have a miserable existence if you practice real estate by deceit. Natural law will crush you; play fair! Purpose, passion and desire cannot be achieved or acquired by deceit. That’s a quotable quote. I hope you remember it.

Let’s get on with another story. This illustrates another fine example for you. This story is about a family who had business interests outside of real estate investing and as a result of the successes of their other businesses they had fairly large sums of money to play real estate like a monopoly game. Power can be dangerous in the wrong hands!

So here we go. This flush with cash family sees an opportunity to take advantage of an overlooked or left alone market. That market is the old-fashioned trailer park, or shall we say Mobile Home Park.

Anyway, the way most mobile home parks came into existence was this: Usually a man of integrity and strong work ethic coupled with a love for his fellow man would buy a piece of land suitable to the placement of mobile homes. As people moved in, he and his wife would welcome them and the neighbors would greet them and the community would become established.

The private owner would dig his own sewer lines and cut his own roads and landscape the park. Maybe put in the clubhouse complete with a swimming pool, shuffleboard, pool table and meeting hall. As time marched on, the residents bonded with each other and a family-friendly community took root. Well this man of integrity had a problem. Since all of his tenants are his friends, he is pressured not to raise the lot rents with inflation.

So the rents over the years are kept very low in the park and now this man and his wife are getting old. Perfect timing for our investors to come knocking and offer our private aging park owner a 2 million dollar price for his 10 acres of mobile home lots. This is a once in a lifetime offer and many park owners cashed out.

What people didn’t see was these investors were systematically and methodically doing this all over the place and once they cashed out as many mom and pops as they could, they lowered the boom.

Now they the investors had control of many parks in the same areas and they started raising the lot rents. You see, they didn’t have any emotional ties to the residents and they didn’t live there, so it was a straightforward business deal: either pay the new higher rent or move.

The residents said, “To hell with you new owner, we are moving.” “Well, fine, go ahead,” they said. Now the residents started calling around to find another park with low rents but guess who owned those? Yep, our investors did, and those lot rents were going up too. So the mom and pops who didn’t sell were full and it would cost on average of about $7,000 to relocate to another park even if they could find a vacancy.

The old folks who had it so good for so long were faced with a new reality and that was that they had no choice but to pay up or move, and moving, in many cases, wasn’t an option. These investors exploited a complete segment of the market and made millions and millions in profit and continue to do so today.

It wasn’t long after this happened that you started seeing signs saying, “This is a resident owned community.” People eventually got smart and started buying that little lot that their trailer was sitting on and they began paying association dues for the clubhouse and security and grounds, maintenance and road repair. The good ole days are nothing but a fond memory.

Life goes on but America did not change for the better as a result of these types of people. Their only purpose was to make money; I believe they will die alone and in misery as a result of their way of life.

So I ask you again, can you be passionate and put your heart into investing in real estate by investing the way our corporate investors did? I think not. Money is no good when you get it by deceitful ways. I encourage you to work at balancing your objectives. Lease optioning, flippers…you are walking a fine line.

Here’s a flip side to communal living. This story is a happier scenario, so let’s have a little joy here. I once lived in Key West and I lived off base. Well, I thought I lived next door to Noah, and it sounded as though he was building another ark. All summer long, hammers and saws seemed to be making some type of racket, so naturally being the neighbor I was, I got to know the man next door. He never went to work and I asked him one day, “Don’t you have a job and he kind of grinned and put his hammer down and this is Mark’s story.

Mark and his brother were from the Northeast and they had a 30-room boarding house for college kids there, at something like $300.00 a month. That was about $9,000 a month and they made the parents responsible for the rent payments. Mark would spend his time with his family in the Keys for the nine months that school was in session. His brother was a local up North and he took care of the toilets, faucets, doors and windows. Yes, they had their very own animal house going on there, but Mark factored in the abuse and would spend 2 – 3 months a year, putting the animal house back together while the animals went home for summer break.

Mark only worked three months a year and the house (ark) that he built next to us was a masterpiece; it was beautiful. He was a master craftsman and he loved his work and spent a lot of his time with his family in a wonderful climate. Makes you kind of jealous, doesn’t it? Well, don’t let it because you can do it, too, but you must get started. Mark was 45 when I met him. I believe he was 25 when he got started, so my advice to you is to get started now!

Protecting Our Schools on a Budget: Are SRO’s the Only Answer?

If you are the Chief, a patrolman, detective, a school resource officer, or a parent there is a good chance you have found yourself in conversations with friends, colleagues, or citizens about school violence in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Whether these conversations take place in the squad room, a City Council meeting, or over dinner, it becomes obvious that there is no clear answer to the prevention of school violence. The depravity of the Sandy Hook shooting has shed a very public spot light on the dark reality of how vulnerable our youngest citizens can be at school.

School violence is unfortunately part of our American history dating back to the 18th Century. The Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre of 1764 was regrettably our first introduction to this type of violence. On July 26th, 1764, four American Indian attackers shot and killed over eight school children along with their schoolmaster outside of what is now Greencastle, Pennsylvania. As our history progressed, school shootings did as well. Many believe the increased incidents of school shootings are a product of modern times. However, it has been deemed newsworthy as early as 1874.

After a Los Angeles high school student was shot and killed, the September 11th, 1874 edition of the Los Angeles Herald declared “This boy lost his life through the too common habit among boys of carrying deadly weapons. We do not know that this habit can be broken up. We do not know that school teachers have the right, or would exercise it if they had, of searching the pockets of their pupils, but it seems almost a necessity that some such rule be enforced… Nearly every school-boy carries a pistol, and the power of these pistols range from the harmless six-bit auction concern to the deadly Colt’s six-shooter.”

Colorado has the unfortunate distinction of being home to two of the worst school shootings in history. Columbine (1999) and Platte Canyon (2006) have not only changed the landscape of how law enforcement responds to such incidents, but they have been permanently imprinted into the national consciousness of school violence. With the infamy of these incidents, it is easy to forget that Colorado school shootings can be traced back almost 4 decades prior. On October 17th, 1961, a Morey Junior High student in Denver was shot and killed by a fellow student. Unfortunately, as time has marched on, school shootings in the United States have only increased. Any one even casually paying attention already knows that it’s not a matter of if it will happen, but when. For those of us in law enforcement, we must honestly ask ourselves not if it will happen, but will it happen on our watch in our jurisdiction.

As the tragedy of Sandy Hook was broadcast into the nations’ family rooms on December 14th, 2012, there has been a renewed outcry for increased protection of our school children to shield them from such evil. Before the crime scene was even cleared, the politicians and special interest groups were climbing over each other grabbing headlines to assign blame and offer irrational ‘solutions’ that fit their political views above that of our own children’s safety. On one side of the political aisle are politicians who would have the public believe gun bans, whistles, and call boxes are the only solutions. Politicians on the other side of the aisle want the public to believe armed teachers are the best answer. Members of academia have advocated scraping the Constitution and have told their students to vomit or urinate on potential attackers. Not to be outdone by the stories they cover, even journalists were jumping into the political absurdity by defending ‘Gun Free Zones’ and advocating for the development of bunker-like environments for schools while publicizing businesses who are pushing Kevlar backpacks to alleviate parents’ fears. The ‘good idea fairy’ has unfortunately been making the rounds.

As local and national politicians continue to play the blame game and fail to offer relevant, common sense approaches, communities are naturally turning to their local Police Departments and Sheriffs Offices for reassurance that their children are protected in their schools. On the national level and the local level, the only proposal that seems to have a wide base of support from all political sides is having an increased police presence in our schools.

A December 18th, 2012 (post Sandy Hook) national Gallop poll showed a whopping 87 percent of adults feel ‘Increasing the police presence at schools’ would be either a “very effective” or “somewhat effective” approach to “preventing mass shootings”. A closer examination of the poll results indicated the consensus crosses political affiliation showing 55 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Democrats, and 53 percent of Independents feel “Increasing the police presence in schools” would be “very effective” in “preventing mass shootings”. Other proposed solutions included the banning of assault and semi-automatic firearms, arming teachers, and increased government spending on mental health yet none of these enjoyed a consensus and each showed considerable political bias towards one party or another.

The concept of Police Officers in our schools is not a new one. The National School Resource Officer Association credits Flint, Michigan with the first deployment of a School Resource Officer in 1959. Over the years, the popularity and successes of the SRO program have grown and made it widely accepted among the general public as well as the Law Enforcement community. A 2006 study by Hickman and Reeves published in Western Criminology Review showed nationally “SRO programs were operational in an estimated 43 percent of local police departments and 47 percent of sheriff’s departments.” Given the current political scrum over various ‘answers’ to school shootings, the SRO program has been under a microscope and has still managed to be widely adopted and come out of the debate relatively clean from partisan politics.

The public has clearly decided that they overwhelming favor an increased police presence in our schools; however, does that necessarily mean that the expansion of SROs into every school is the best solution for school safety? Law Enforcement agencies know that it is not as easy as waving a magic wand to create not only hundreds of new SROs to be placed in every school, but the millions of dollars of funding it will take to hire, train, equip and retain these SROs. Politicians on both the local and federal level like to talk about additional funding for these programs, but there is little hope, with or without additional grant dollars, of increasing the SRO ranks without considering the massive amount of money that would be needed to fund such an expansion.

Presently there are no bills in front of the Colorado Legislature requesting funding specifically for SROs despite public support from numerous legislators. Colorado State Senator Steven King (R-Grand Junction) recently submitted the “School Resource Officer Programs in Public Schools” bill, SB13-138. A close examination of the bill reveals that it does not request any funding for anything. Rather than adding School Resource Officers to our schools, it only adds an SRO to the School Safety Resource Center’s Advisory Board and requires them to hire a full-time grant writer to help school districts apply for grants to be used for unspecified school safety uses.

If a legislator wanted to author a bill that would fund a SRO in every Colorado school, what would it look like? The most recent data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment listed the average Colorado Police Officer salary at $59,791. According to the Colorado Department of Education there are 1,780 public schools, which if an SRO was placed in each of them, would cost a staggering annual total of $106,427,980. This astronomical amount does not include the $23,796,818 it would cost to provide the same protection to the 398 Colorado private schools would also benefit from an increased police presence. While placing an SRO in every school would significantly address the public’s plea of escalated police presence in educational institutions it is clearly not economically feasible.

Even if the money were available to fund such a project, it is still unlikely that an effective expansion of SROs would be possible. The SRO position is a unique and specialized assignment requiring a unique and special individual to fill it competently. Not every Police Officer can or even wants to be a SRO just as not every Police Officer can or wants to join K9 Units, SWAT Units, Motor Divisions or any other highly specialized unit. Even if an expansion of SROs to every school in Colorado were completely funded, there simply are not enough officers with the special skills that an SRO assignment would require.

During a January 13th, 2013 Wyoming Tribune Eagle interview when asked about expanding the Cheyenne Police Departments SRO program to elementary schools, former Avon (CO) Police Chief Brian Kozak (Currently Cheyenne, WY Police Chief) correctly noted “An added complication is that there wouldn’t be much traditional police work that an officer could do in an elementary school”. Even if criminal activity occurred amongst the students, beyond an armed response, there is little an SRO can do that a school administrator could not given the fact Colorado Revised Statute 18-1-801-Insufficient Age clearly states “No child under ten years of age shall be found guilty of any offense.” While an assigned SRO would still be able to quickly respond to violence, their daily police oriented work load would be minimal. “I believe that it is just as important to assign SROs to elementary schools, however their role would be vastly different than those in middle and high schools. The elementary school SRO would be more of an informal counselor and teacher. Of course they would take reports of child neglect and abuse and other crimes where children are the victims” says Sergeant Damon Vaz of the Aurora Police Department, who supervises their SRO Program. Acting as counselors and role models for youth is certainly important, however the elementary school SRO would find themselves very far removed from actual police work, and in the context of school safety, acting as little more than highly trained deterrents of external criminal activity. This begs the question, is this the best way to spend our limited resources? Likely, the answer is no.

If law enforcement agencies have decided to answer the public demand for increased police presence in the schools, but we have determined that the wisdom and funding needed to put an SRO in every school is unsustainable, what are we to do? How can we increase the time an officer spends on a school campus without affecting the budget or taking regular officers away from their regular duties during school visits?
Enter the substation. Thousands of agencies nationwide already employ substations. Despite their widespread use, the function of a substation varies widely from agency to agency. Some larger substations include detention cells, intox machines, interview rooms, and AFIS terminals. Others are slightly larger than a broom closet with a few computers to write reports. The locations of substations are as varied as their functions being placed anywhere from shopping malls to convenience stores.

Line level officers across the nation spend a considerable part of their day writing reports and filling out paperwork. Currently this takes place at either the police station, a substation, or in their patrol vehicles. From my experience working with numerous law enforcement agencies in Colorado, at least 30% to 40% of an Officer’s shift is spent completing reports, warrants, warrantless affidavits, citations, accident diagrams and returning phone calls and emails. Often times after a high call load day, an Officer may spend his/her entire shift completing paperwork.

That time could be better much better spent if it was completed at a substation on school grounds. A limited focus substation placed on school campuses that do not already have a dedicated SRO would maximize police presence in schools with little to no additional budget consequences. The amount of time Officers would be spending at the school substation would be the same amount of time they would already spend at a non-school substation, the Police Department, or parked in a quiet parking lot. That time would have the additional effect of placing a visible deterrent with parked police vehicles outside the school and it would drastically improve the chances that a Police Officer is on campus if an attack where to take place.

The school substation would have a limited but useful focus on paperwork and the clerical duties of police officers rather than suspect processing or equipment storage historically used in more traditional substations. This focus would keep potential costs low, as they would only require a small amount of space and a few computers, and it would reassure school districts that the police are not introducing criminal suspects or dangerous items to the school environment.

School districts are no less immune to limited budgets than Law Enforcement agencies. With many Colorado school districts already financially strapped, asking them to help fund a vast expansion of the SRO program to every school would likely be given the cold shoulder. However, a law enforcement agency willing to provide hours of officer presence for only the cost of a desk or two in the school office would undoubtedly get a much warmer response.

Budget sensitive law enforcement agencies will find that the school substations’ need for only limited equipment ensures low costs. The already low costs may be further reduced by relocating existing substations currently requiring commercial rent payments. Many departments could find additional savings by utilizing existing MDT’s for report writing thereby only needing a quiet place for the officer to sit down. I am confident the addition of a good coffee maker could entice officers to utilize these areas but in my experience officers need little motivation to make good use of a properly equipped substation. Over my law enforcement career it was clear the rank and file viewed substations as a sanctuary from excessive supervision endured at headquarters and preferred to complete their paperwork at the substation if given the opportunity.

The public mandate to prevent future Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Platte Canyon tragedies is loud and clear. Law enforcement agencies also have to meet the limited budgets provided by their county commissioners and city councils. Every agency, every school district, and every community has different needs, circumstances and fiscal environments. The school substation is not the magic wand solution for every agency and should not be used as a replacement for qualified School Resource Officers if funding is available. It should, however, be explored further as a viable option in light of current financial realities and the unlikelihood of them changing in the foreseeable future. School substations not only have little to no budgetary expenditures, but they squarely address what the public, with bipartisan support, has overwhelmingly expressed would be the most effective preventative measure. Before the ‘good idea fairy’ makes a visit to your agency, please consider the idea of school substations in your jurisdiction.

How To Choose A Fire Suppression System For Your Server Room, Data Center Or NOC

Looking to install a new fire suppression system? Replacing an old Halon system? Or, perhaps upgrading your old system? This can be a daunting task. Today, fire suppression systems come in a variety of chemical compounds, an array of both basic and sophisticated notification devices, and a variety of sizes. I will introduce you to the many dramatic changes passed by the National Fire Protection Association, due in large part to innovative firms searching for better and inexpensive ways to protect computers and other electronic equipment.

Innovation is usually the result of changes in the way business is conducted. Reasons why new and innovative fire suppression systems are being developed include the following:

  • Water sprinkler systems can cause catastrophic damage in a computer environment.
  • Older fire suppression systems may not be environmentally friendly.
  • Today’s computer server environment is much more compact. A significant increase in storage capacity alone has allowed a significant decrease in the amount of space required to house computer equipment, telecommunications, and server equipment.
  • Older systems and subsequent technologies may be too expensive to purchase and install.

The number of smaller companies has increased throughout the world, dictating a change in the way we protect our essential data and equipment. A significant number of firms lease space in office complexes. Over ninety percent of firms that lease space find it too expensive to purchase and install most systems. And, most firms do not want to install a system that becomes a permanent fixture which cannot be removed when a lease expires, additional space is required, or a firm needs to expand or downsize.

Now there is a way to replace older fire suppression systems, update existing equipment, replace sprinkler heads, and purchase the protection you need for your critical data and computer systems. Now you can increase or decrease a fire suppression system without a major expense. New systems can be uninstalled and reinstalled because they are not permanent fixtures. Your investment can travel with you just like your data center or server room equipment.

The evolution of fire detection and suppression systems has been dramatic. There are fire suppression agents that are toxic when inhaled and those that are certified “green.” You can choose from a clean agent gas, water or aerosol. Some systems require a floating floor and significant space to reside, while others mount on available wall space.

There are systems that require little cleanup (the clean agent gasses), and those that need a whole cleaning crew and a few days worth of elbow grease. That leads to – you guessed it – server down time. From minimal to extensive, in the case of even the smallest fire, some systems can leave you twiddling your thumbs until you are back in business. Next step – recharging your fire suppression system, and the time and costs associated with that process.

I hope to simplify things here. I have been advising companies on computer room fire suppression for many years. This first hand experience of selling fire suppression system solutions for most size rooms and enclosures has shown many firms the benefits of utilizing newer technology when protecting valuable assets.

Let’s start by summarizing the features of each type of automatic fire suppression system used in most data centers, NOCs and server rooms today. Then, I’ll get into specifics that you will want to consider before choosing fire suppression equipment and a fire suppression company.

First, Understand the Types of Fires You Could Encounter

The National Fire Protection Association has classified fires into four types, determined by the materials or fuel being burned:

Type A: Fires with combustible materials as its source, such as wood, cloth, paper, rubber, and many plastics

Type B: Fires in flammable liquids, oils, greases, tars, oil-base paints, lacquers, and flammable gases

Type C: Fires that involve electrical equipment

Type D: Fires with ignitable metals as its fuel source

In a typical server room fire, a combination of Types A, B and C can be found. An effective fire suppression system will be rated for all three types.

Often the source of a fire in a server room is not detected until after the fire has been extinguished. Therefore, installing a system that can handle A, B & C Types is a safeguard against an unexpected disaster.

Substances Used in Fire Suppression: Gas, Water and Aerosol

1. Gaseous or Clean Agent Fire Suppression

Gasses used in fire suppression systems are typically Halon, CO2 or environmentally-friendly clean agents such as Inergen. These gases do not extinguish a fire by smothering it, but rather by displacing oxygen or inhibiting a chemical reaction that is essential to the fire’s survival.

The popular fire suppressant Halon is so detrimental to the environment that both Europe and the United States banned manufacturing of the gas in 1995. It is mentioned here only because many Halon systems installed before the ban was enacted are still in operation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) encourages the use of non-ozone depleting fire suppression agent alternatives, and in 1990, the US EPA established its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) to evaluate new chemicals and technologies for the replacement of ozone depleting substances. As a result, many companies are installing alternative clean agents that are environmentally friendly.

Clean agents derive their name from the simple idea that they do not leave any residue after discharge. This feature makes them ideal for electronics and eliminates cleanup worries.

Another gas used in fire suppression, CO2, is harmful when inhaled at high concentrations (greater than 5% by volume, or 50,000 ppm). The current threshold limit value (TLV) or maximum level that is considered safe for healthy adults for an eight-hour work day is 0.5% (5,000 ppm). For this reason, your facility must be vacated before the system discharges.
Unlike CO2, Inergen is non-toxic. However, a discharge of Inergen results in an approximate 3% concentration of carbon dioxide. While initially breathable, it is recommended that the environment be evacuated. Since it is not a liquid under pressure, Inergen requires significant storage space. After a discharge, the environment becomes highly pressurized which could cause damage if not released in a timely manner.

Gas fire suppression systems typically consist of the agent (gas), agent storage containers, agent release valves, fire detectors and warning mechanisms, agent piping, and agent dispersion nozzles. With most gas agents, the environment must be pressurized in order to contain the agent. Installation is complex and costly, and the reward is realized only after discharge, as clean up is as simple as venting the room.

2. Water-Based Fire Suppression

Water Mist Fire Suppression Systems resulted from the evolution from standard sprinklers designed for flooding fires. Much lighter than their older counterpart, water mist systems are effective on Type A and B fires and result in less damage than traditional water-based systems. Still, water mist systems are not ideal for server rooms due to the Type C electrical fires common to this environment. Clean up and safety issues are also a concern when faced with wet or damp electronics. Although effective in the right situations, water mist systems must often be augmented with other fire suppression systems in order to ensure complete coverage in the event of a fire. After discharge, expect down time of a few weeks for a sprinkler system and less with water mist. Often with a sprinkler system, you are unable to take it with you if you are in a lease or are planning to move to new facilities. This could make a big difference in your consideration of a water-based system.

3. Aerosol Fire Suppression

The newest technology in fire suppression, Aerosol Extinguishing Technology, was officially approved and effective in 2005 by the National Fire Protection Association. A clean agent with no post combustion byproducts, aerosols such as the brand Aero-K do not replace the oxygen as CO2 does, do not produce Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) after the fire, and have no environmental impact.

The aerosol consists of ultra-fine particles that are expelled via generators. Upon discharge, the substance creates a fog of suspended particles. Non-toxic and non-corrosive, the agent remains suspended in the environment for up to 60 minutes, virtually eliminating any possibility of reignition. After discharge and a 10-minute hold time, clean up includes venting the room and a light dusting of the surfaces.

Unlike gaseous systems, which operate at pressure and often require extensive piping, aerosol generators are very cost effective to install and maintain and have minimal space and weight requirements. The generators that dispense the aerosol are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate any size environment.

Select A Fire Suppression System with Dependable Safety Features

Safety features can save time, money, equipment, and most importantly, lives. Here are some features that your fire suppression system must have in order to prevent either premature discharge or the opposite – activation delay – when a new fire is either noticed or accidentally started by human error.

Lock Out/Abort Switch –This feature is essential for instances when a service person is in the protected environment and creates smoke, for example from soldering. A lock out/abort switch lets you disable the system with a key to avoid an accidental discharge. Should a threatening fire start while the system is disabled, a worker can use a fire extinguisher for a localized fire or arm the system and use the manual pull station.

Manual Pull Station –If a fire is inadvertently started, or is noticed by someone in the room, the manual pull station allows for immediate discharge without waiting for the system to detect smoke.

Choose a Fire Suppression Company That Will Customize a System to your Unique Needs

Aside from superior customer service, look for a fire suppression company that will make your needs their top priority. The company that bids your fire detection and suppression installation will want to know the size of your room and particular characteristics of your room. This will determine the amount of agent, piping, system space and weight requirements.

A good fire suppression company will consider such factors as the length of time you expect to occupy your current space. If you intend to move within a few years, you’ll want to know if the system can be transferred to your new facility and reinstalled cost-effectively. Don’t forget to ask about the costs associated with recharging the system, should the system discharge.

You’ll also want to discuss how the system can be expanded if the size of your computer room increases due to growth. And, in the opposite scenario, will you be able to reduce the scale of the system if you downsize?

Each state, city, or municipality has a fire code that must be considered when evaluating the options. Some agencies require sprinklers and others will allow a clean agent system in lieu of sprinklers. Factors such as the type of building construction often impact the codes and requirements. Select a fire suppression installation company that asks all of the right questions about your fire code and other unique requirements such as UL certification for fire suppression equipment.

Fire Suppression Costs

Costs are typically estimated based on the size of the room. This determines the amount of agent needed to put out a fire as well as the equipment and delivery mechanisms required. The agent concentration levels differ depending on the class of fire expected. Make sure you ask about the costs of maintaining the system on a yearly basis and also the life expectancy of the agent/systems so that you are prepared should you need to update periodically for optimal effectiveness.

An Automatic Fire Suppression System Can Lower Your Insurance Premium

If you don’t currently have a fire suppression system, consider the insurance cost savings. Insurance companies sometimes offer a Loss Control Survey that, when completed, may offer rate reductions for installing a waterless or dry chemical fire suppression system. A call to your agent and some comparative shopping will give you an idea of what you’ll save – typically in the range of 10%-15%. Don’t forget to take the tax deduction. With a 10-year shelf life, a product such as Aero-K can be depreciated over its full useful life.