When I was 18 a friend and I bought one of Don Lapre's infomercial programs.

If you don't know Don Lapre, he was a slick, if cheesy, late-night salesman. Most of his infomercials were about how to make thousands of dollars per week from your bedroom. You know the drill. It was nothing new then and it's nothing new now. Mr. Lapre was just really good at it.
One of the things Mr Lapre's program taught us was how to sell advertising to local businesses.

My friend and I went door-to-door to local businesses and did just that. After a day we only made about $100, which amounted to less than minimum wage. If we'd kept at it we might have been able to refine the process and make more, but neither of us enjoyed face-to-face selling.

Even though this initial business was a success (it did turn a profit, after all), as the years passed I lumped Don Lapre and most other informercial "make money" marketers (including those who only work online) into the scam artist category. Let's be honest, they were/are. Most of them. Even some of your favorites. The ones you might look at through the proverbial rose-colored glasses.

Don Lapre died yesterday in an apparent suicide while in Federal custody for fraud.

He was looking at up to 25 years in prison, most likely well-deserved.

I can only speculate, but my observation is that his unofficial motto was, much like it is for many marketers, "Make money by any means necessary."

It's sad that it came to what it came to, but it's just more proof that striving for just money isn't worth it. When all your self-worth is tied to your bank account's worth you're playing a very tricky game. While it won't always end in suicide it will always end in unhappiness.

And yet, when I talk to people who want to start businesses the biggest reason is usually, "I want to make a lot of money." They don't get it. There has to be something more to it than that.

Money is great and I'm not advocating living like a pauper. If you want to be filthy rich, more power to you. But don't expect life to improve any more than you can improve it right now.

It doesn't take much to improve your life.

You obviously need enough money to not worry about money. For most of us that's not an incredible amount. Rent/utilities in many great cities can be had for less than $1,500/month (usually much, much less). This is even true in really expensive cities like NYC if you look hard enough.

Then you need enough money to feed yourself quality food. Along with that you need to stop eating the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). Quality food (whole food, not restaurant/fast food) costs $50-$100/week. By the way, it doesn't have to be organic to be nutritious and you don't have to shop at Whole Foods to eat whole food.

Then you need enough money to do things you love. Sometimes those things don't cost much, like reading. Sometimes they cost a bit more, like traveling. Whatever it is for you, you need that much. For most people I'd say this is less than $500/month. Actually, for most people it's probably less than $100/month. I don't have any data to back this up as this is my own observation.

You also need to exercise, but that's nearly free. If you don't like exercise then read this.

Relationships are important as well, but quantity pales in comparison to quality. So add one or two good friends into this mix and you're set.

I hope people look at Don Lapre's death as a wake up call. You have the ability to do good things, get paid to do those good things, and inspire others to do good things.

Doing good things does not require being filthy rich or giving up your integrity and ethics. I know it's difficult, but, if nothing else, I'm in your corner.

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