About This Episode
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Clarence Fisher: Hey, what's up? Welcome back to Local Market Monopoly. I'm Clarence Fisher, your host, and today, episode 84 is a biggie. I mean, not as big as Biggie Smalls, but it's pretty big. It's focus, and I'm going to share with you quite candidly and openly my journey of mastering focus, going from procrastinator extraordinaire to, I don't know if I'm a productivity guru, but I get things done and how I overcame distractions and became more productive. And you can use these tactics too. Hold on. Whoa.
Intro: You're listening to Local Market Monopoly with Clarence Fisher uncovering the tools tactics and strategies the most successful small businesses use to dominate their local market and own the block.
Clarence Fisher: All right, here we go. Hey, before we jump into this focus, just a little bit of break, a little break from the focus. So tell you about a main street marketing coach.com. If you're looking for more than just the strategies and the tools that we discuss here, you'll get coaching access to tools, but also an incredible community of support over at MainStreetmarketingcoach.com. Our founding members are getting a great, great low introductory price there. I hate introductory price. Let's not say that founding members are getting a great deal, so go check it out mainstreammarketingcoach.com. All right, now the focus, focus, man, I'll tell you this, it is very hard to focus. Most people can only, it's been proven, most people can only focus for about 20 minutes before getting distracted, and especially if you are in kind of an open office setting if you're going to the office, a lot of people are working from home now, which is a lot of times even worse.
We had one of the guys from Cox came over to fix our internet. It turned out to be our modem that was out, but he said, man, literally every other house that I go to is the people that the people are working from home. It has changed that much. So definitely if you're in an open office, you've got people sipping coffee, people breathing really loudly, which is ironically one of the things. My wife and I shared an office at the house for a long time and she told me one day, I can't stand your breathing. Turns out when I'm thinking I'm a thinker and I do a lot of strategy work, so as I'm sitting back and I will go hmmm.
And those little noises that I make when I'm really getting into something annoyed her. So we ended up separating, separating offices, but this is what I'm saying as far as focus, and she uses a technique that I use now that I'm going to share with you as well. But definitely if you're at home, I mean there's tons and tons of distractions that can happen. So what we want to do first is we want to identify and eliminate any distractions. We want to create a distraction free workspace as much as possible. If you've got kids, you've got kids and you're working at home, but there can be some type of sign that you are in deep work, you are do not to be disturbed for this two to three hours. It could be the old college sock on the doorknob or the tie on the doorknob, but in studies, it's crazy with these studies, it's like most employees, as I looked it up, are only super productive, really productive for three hours a day, which is insane to me.
But if you can get four hours of really productive work, I mean deep work, getting stuff done, not getting ready to get things done, not slacking other team members and working on just random items, actually focus, getting things done, then you're winning. So if you can block out those three hours, I would start by doing that, but create a distraction free workplace statistics are showing that we are interrupted every 11 minutes. Workers get interrupted every 11 minutes, and I think you knew this, it takes 25 minutes to regain focus. Isn't that amazing then? So you're working for 11 minutes, you get distracted, it takes 25 minutes to get back into the work that you were doing, and then you only get another 11 minutes of that work and someone else pings you, Hey, got a minute, or someone walks into the room or you're distracted, and then it takes another 25 minutes to get back.
So that I think is how we end up getting the three hours out of an eight hour shift, only three hours being really productive because you're only working out 11 minute increments and most of your day is distraction. So let's move out, make a list of everything that distracts you and clear that out. Tim Ferris from the four Hour Work Week, he calls this a low information diet and he advocates for that. So in order to minimize distractions and reduce mental clutter, what he suggests is limiting the consumption that you have of definitely of news and social media. Of course, that's something that we need to do, but one of the things that I got from reading the four Hour Work week that are really difficult to implement in the beginning, but now it's second nature, is checking email only at specific times during the day.
This cuts out unnecessary information, unnecessary interruptions. If you think about it, email is always someone wanting something from you. It's the digital version of that. Got a minute meeting when people stop by and say, Hey, Got, a minute, no, I don't. One thing you got to stop doing, and I stopped doing that. There were no, we stopped the Got a minutes. There is a time for every day that I am going to, and it's called a buffer block, that I'm going to handle all of these meetings because you need it right now does not mean I need to break what I'm doing. Really, I feel like, and I don't tell you this, of course, now, if anybody on the team's listening to this, then they're going to get it. Okay? If you're telling me, do you got a minute and I break what I'm doing, you subconsciously feel like whatever you're doing is more important than what I'm doing.
Okay? So why don't, don't I just say, Hey, no, I don't have time right now. Get all your questions together and we'll meet at four o'clock for 15 minutes and I'll make sure that we get it answered. Okay? This solves a couple of things. One, I am not giving you a halfway kind of undivided attention or answer. I'm going to give you a full, I'm going to give you my full attention at four o'clock and also you can get your stuff together before we get together, okay? And so what Tim Advocates is doing the same thing with email, and when I started, I started with checking email 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Now, this was really difficult because at the time I was the one doing all of the client service work, so people want to be responded to quickly and I get that, totally get that, but at the same time, responding to every single ticket as for me personally, responding to every single ticket as it as I did in the beginning, I never really got anything done.
So what I did was I created an auto-responder inside of the email program and said, Hey, in order to get, in order to get things done, I am responding to email at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM If this is a true emergency, then here's the number and you can call, right? But nobody had a problem with that. I just let people know that it's going to be 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM When you get a response, people just want to know that they, they're being listened to and you are going to respond. Well, that worked so well that now I check email at 2:00 PM That is it. I check email at 2:00 PM and if you're listening and you're like, why don't I always only get an email in the afternoon because that's when I check email. So that's one thing that you can do. Cal Newport wrote this book called Deep Work and Deep Work is really what this whole thing is about, is getting to where you can really concentrate for, like I said, that three hours at least without distraction.
Okay? Here's a caveat. I really Cal's kind of premise here, his concept and it ties into kind really well into the panduro technique and then also a technique that I learned from Evan Pagan. But let's talk about Deep Work really quick. So what Newport argues is that the ability to perform deep work, meaning is really rare nowadays, but if we can engage in deep work, then we can achieve a higher level of productivity, creativity, problem solving ability, and it sets us apart from our peers in order to do deep work. And I can attest to this, when I schedule time for deep work, this is when stuff gets done. It's like this podcast, I am recording multiple episodes today, batching that, and this is all I'm doing today. Another day is writing headlines. Another day is mapping out just kind of the flow of the episodes.
You're like, Clarence, I thought you just got in there and just winged it. No, that is what, that's what we did in the very beginning, but to Cal Newport's point, things got better when it just took the time and just got into deep work. You want to eliminate all of your shallow work, which is what I talked about earlier. That's work that, hey, I just have to do this, so I'm just going to just do this. So schedule your deep working sessions. This is from Cal Newport's Deep Work. If you are a service business owner and you're trying to get out of the truck, I've run into this before, okay, you're making good money, good revenue, but it's time to duplicate yourself and get out of the truck. Now, let's say that you have, I mean not even if you're trying to get out of the truck, say you have 10 trucks, let's say you're not even a service business owner.
Let's just say you're a small business owner, but you need to take your marketing to the next level. You want to take your business to the next level. You have to schedule time for this deep work and I mean an hour or two a week, 90 minutes, let's say 90 minutes, whatever you're focused on to take your business to the next level, you need to schedule that and make it a ritual. Once a week. In the Mainstream Marketing Coach program, our whole thing is we want these marketing systems to work for you with two hours a week of your time. If you put two hours a week into the marketing program, then the systems should build on each other and you should see an increase in results and increase in revenue, but that has to be scheduled and you have to put in the deep work, you have to be present.
So that's it for that part of eliminating your distractions. As Tim Ferriss the says, go on a "Low Information Diet", jump off of all the digital stuff, let people know you're only going to be replying to emails, phone calls, I mean this was the same thing on my answering machine actually on my cell phone. Emails, phone calls at a certain time so that they can expect you and then get into deep work, which brings us to part two is developing a routine and a structure. You want to establish a daily routine and stick with it. I know it can get boring, especially most people want variety in their life. Well check this out. Variety has to variety's going to have to come after work. I think in order for you to get things done, most of the successful people in the world have a very structured and routine day.
We talked about Benjamin Franklin in episode 73 where we went over his routine, very, very routine, very structured day. One of the mistakes that we make, and I make this and have to continue to correct myself, is overscheduling not allowing for breaks. I thought I had this down at when I put in buffer blocks, 30 minute buffer blocks within in the day, I had two of them at first. Then I'm like, oh my goodness, I'm too busy for two buffer blocks and those buffer blocks is when you return all your phone calls, all of your emails, and you have your God a minute meetings, and I think I had it at 30 minutes, 30 minutes a day. Two of those, and you may need those. I am down to one buffer block which recording this, I'm sitting here thinking, dude, you need to make more than one.
One. Yeah, I need two buff buffer blocks, but overscheduling in your schedule, you have the time blocked out for this meeting, but then it automatically jumps into this meeting or you have time for this task and then it automatically jumps into this task, automatically jumps into this task, and if we're honest with ourselves, we don't get all of those tasks done, but even if you do, the downside is a quarter of employees, actually 23% of employees feel burned out because of the excessive workload. I know people that run from meeting to meeting to meeting to meeting to meeting to meeting, it will burn you out. I personally cannot do more than three meetings in a row. If I'm doing that, I really feel burned out and done. If we look at Ernest Hemingway for inspiration here where he would get up early, he'd be an early riser beginning his day, and he just had a goal that he needed to hit that day, which was 500 words a day.
That is what he aimed to do, and he maintained that consistent level every single day and that was his routine. Of course, Ernest Hemingway was a man's man is how they explained, but he would take breaks for physical activity and then also enjoying life. He really had a very strict, what we would call work life balance where he got up, he's going to write his 500 words. If he's having, he may break in the middle of the day, go fishing or something like that and then come back, but he is going to get his 500 words after that. He's going to go enjoy his day and that was his routine. Whatever your routine is, my personal routine is I get up, I am going to do deep work for two, three hours on what I have to get done that day because the day before, I'm thinking what would make the next day great?
If I got this done, what's going to move me towards getting, what can I do this day to move me towards knocking down my goal for the week, which knocks down my goal for the month, which knocks down my goal for the quarter, which knocks down my goal for the year, which knocks down my goal for my life. I'm that dude, and it comes all the way back down to today. So get it done and beyond Ernest Hemingway, if we're talking about him getting his 500 words done and he's going to make sure that he does that. One of the techniques that I learned about, and I'm so glad that I found out about it, you probably already know about it, is the panduro technique. When I found this out, I thought, this is crazy. It's super simple, but it works. And the panduro technique, in case you don't know, it really will reduce your burnout and reduce your mental fatigue.
What you do is you get an egg timer or some type of timer and you set it for 25 minutes and you work for 25 minutes. Then you take a five minute break after you've completed four Panduros, you've completed four of those 25 minutes. Then you take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes, repeat this cycle throughout the day to help you keep focus and keep your energy. So this is how it works. You get up, you set your timer for 25 minutes. You don't get up for that 25 minutes. Then you go for five minutes a break, walk around, get back 25 minutes, okay? You do that for four cycles and then you can take a longer break. Now, I was doing that for a while and then I ran into Evan Pagan and what Evan Pagan described fits me better, and he goes on, what is it called?
Circadian rhythm. So Evan Pagan's recommendation based on a person's Circadian rhythm would be to work for 50 minutes, take a 10 minute break, work for 50 minutes, take another 10 minute break, and then actually a 30 minute break. So you can take a 10 to 30 minute break after that second one. So it's 50 minutes, 10 minute break, 50 minutes, and then I take a 20 minute break. Then I go back to 50 minutes, 10, 50 minutes, and then I'm done for the day pretty much, and that tends to work for me really, if I really have a to get done the 25 minutes, I'm just now getting into it really. So those 50 minute breaks work for me. You can try whatever, try them both because sometimes I do need the 25. I'll go back to Panduro if I have so many projects going on that I don't have time to really focus 50 minutes on one thing, I really have to get a bunch of different stuff gone done and I have to jump from project to project to project, I'll do Panduro.
So I'll set the timer to 25 minutes and work on this project. I'm at least going to get this 25 minutes done and then five minute break, and then I'm going to move to something else. And Panduro also works for me at least with things that I don't want to do. Like dude, you can at least do 25 minutes. And so I set the timer and I'm going to do 25 minutes on that and then I'll take my five minute break. And one thing that I found out years ago that I discovered that has really helped me focus is this app called Focus at Will, and we'll put a link in it in the show notes. You can go to localmarketmonopoly.com/focus, and then also I realized you can also go to our tools section on the website, localmarketmonopoly.com/tools or when you go to the website, there's a link that says tools.
All of our stuff that we talk about here on the show is there, so just remember that as well. But Focus at Will. What it is is based on, I started researching Ural beats and the music that you have playing while you're working, and I do best with classical, but you can go there and take this little test, this little free test, and it will tell you what type of tempo, what type of music and all that stuff that works best for you to stay focused. But I am so trained with Focus at Will now that whether I'm going to do uro, which is 25 minutes, or I'm going to do the Evan Pagan version of 50 minutes, which is what I typically do, I just set it for 50 and I hit start. I hit timed session, I hit start, and this bell rings ding, and now it's like Pavlo, Pavlos dog.
Now, I am so trained that when I hear that ding, I just get laser focused. I cannot, like nothing distracts me, the dog, anything. I am there. My brain is programmed and I have this classical music that plays some baroque or something like that. It plays in the background because that is what interestingly enough, whether you are a coffee drinker or there's all these questions, how they get to what works best for you, but I found out what's what works best for me and it's that, and I just go to work. I mean, I am kicking up dust with this little classical music playing, and then I hear Bing after 50 minutes, 25 minutes, and it's like I'm out of my trence. What did I, oh my goodness, I got so much done. And then I go and maybe jump on the treadmill and walk a little bit, maybe have a drink of water, and I come back bing, Focus at Will you try it out? You will love it.
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Prioritizing task and goals is the next big milestone that I hit. And here's the thing is prioritizing the tasks is one of the major things that you have to learn to do in order to be productive. I use Simpleology for this. We've talked about this in other episodes where it allows me, and you don't need Simpleology to do this, you just take, when you are listing out the things that you need to do for the next day, look at the things that are going to give you the highest impact for the minimalist effort and do those things first. And that's one of the things that I like about the app that I used because it does that kind of automatically.
It has a couple of sliders that says, how hard is this? And then how much of an impact will this make if this is done? And then at the end you hit sorts and it sorts it for me, but you can do this with a piece of paper like the listing every or on your Evernote or whatever you use, list everything that you need to get done the next day and think about which one of these tasks is going to give me the highest return and it takes the at least amount of effort, sort it that way and get those things done. Another way to do it, and you've heard this is Eat That Frog Made Popular by Brian Tracy, and that is doing the biggest thing, the thing that you don't want to do first, and that definitely works too. I've tried that, but that doesn't work for me.
I need to get some momentum if I just get up and do the biggest thing first, I'm done for the day. Really. Author Stephen Covey also talks about this in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I try to joke that that book is so heady that I got three habits now own, but I'm super effective with those three habits, and one of them is not being diverted by things that are urgent and not important. I mean, the most important things to us are rarely urgent. I love when he pointed that out. Think about it. And then when they become urgent, then something's wrong. One of the things he think about is your health the most important thing to us, but it's not urgent. So working out, eating all of that stuff, not a urgent thing until it becomes urgent. And when it becomes urgent, then it's like crazy.
That's the same thing with our business. Like I said, doing that deep work on your marketing strategy on your customer avatar. Oh, customer avatar, no one thinks is urgent. Getting to know, actually write down what your customer wants and what they're experiencing and what their life is. It doesn't seem urgent at all, but it is the most important thing to do in your marketing. So Stephen Covey advocates concentrating on those things and not being blinded by the urgent things that are always raising their hands. Always. If you make a to-do list and you've got 20 things on there, 19 things are urgent, and only one of those things are truly, truly important. So prioritize, do the urgent thing prior. Do the urgent things during your deep work. I'll put it like that after I finish with this podcast. Not the urgent. Do the important things during your deep work.
Sorry about that. Do the important things during your deep work. Then after those three hours, then jump on your urgent tasks. So when I finish recording this podcast after this, I'll jump on all the urgent stuff that everyone has for me, but I still got the most important thing done today as contradictory. It may seem also taking time out to meditate. I know it's not. It's not isn't. I don't think it's so woowoo now. I used to, but taking time out to meditate really, really does help. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is disregarding the mental aspect of focus and productivity. We can't have it until we can see it, right? You have to take time to see the thing that you want before we can have it, and then also reducing your stress. And it doesn't take that long to meditate. There are tons of free apps out there.
I think, what did I start with? I started with Timer. I believe if you search for that timer meditation that was a is or is, I don't know if it's still out there. We'll just have this search a free app, and if that's not available, there are tons of more a free app that would guide you through a meditation. So a five minute meditation or a 10 minute meditation that I would start doing in the morning. I graduated from that to Headspace and I love Headspace, but I started for years. I used that free timer app to make sure that this is something that I want to do, something that I can do, because in my mind when I thought about meditation, I thought just sitting there doing nothing, and that just doesn't happen. I mean, it can't happen for me. That's what Tony Robbins talks about.
I can't sit there and do anything. And he has a meditation technique that he calls priming where he is breathing real hard and he does it. I'm not really down with that either, Tony. I mean, that's too much for me in the morning. So it's like nothing. Or we're daggum mentally running a marathon here, but that's Tony. Oh, you're great. Are you doing the thing? So I like a happy medium where the person is telling me what to do. Okay? Starting from the head, breathe in since your body feel the weight, I need that in my life. So I started with Timer, you can start with that. And then I upgraded to the Headspace and it has all kinds of different apps, but here's a stat for you about meditation. Eight weeks, just eight weeks of mindfulness training can increase your concentration and focus by 14%.
That's from the psychology or psychological science. Eight weeks. Give it a try. And so right before we close, the next step is staying accountable and tracking your progress. You want to use a journal. There's tons of journals out there. What did I use? I started I, I've done the five minute journal. There's also the bulleted or the Journal method by writer Carol, and here I want to send you back also to Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule that we covered in, what was it, episode 73 where we talk about Benjamin Franklin's schedule. But in there we also talk about his tracking his virtues. He had those 13 virtues that he wanted to develop as a human being, and he tracks those every single day. And we list those in episode 73. But you want to be accountable. You want to journal, what were your three wins today?
At the end of the day, what were the three wins today? What was a situation that you handled, that you handled great? This is what I'm going to do. I want to tell you, show you, not show you, but tell you what I do at the end of the day here. Of course, a good day starts with the night before. So at the end of the day, I am asking myself what three wins happen or what three amazing things happen today. Maybe a moment that I appreciated today I have here a moment I appreciated today was, and then a situation or task I handled well today was. So that's just kind of prompting me if I don't have three immediate wins. And the science behind putting down your three wins at the end of the day is it primes your brain to always be looking for wins.
And so eventually you get to where you're, you're only concentrating on your wins. But also I ask myself this at the end of the day is where did I fail today? Failing is failing is just not bad. Failing is what you need to do in order to win. So where did I fail today? If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough. And then the next question or the next thing under that item under that is something I realized or learned today. So where did I fail? And then what did I learn? Then I asked myself, how productive wa was I today? Okay, the next question is really will pull you onto the carpet? Did I do what I said I would do today? Now, this is not only difficult to say, Hey, did I do what I said I would do? Did I do what I told someone else that I would do?
But also, did I do what I told myself I would do when I prioritized my tasks and said that I would get this done for me, for my company, for my business, for my family? Did I do that? The next question I have is, did I tell the truth? Always striving to always tell the truth, to not be swayed by people's emotions, and you don't have to be harsh with the truth, but did I tell the truth? Then I ask myself. Then I say, I could have made today better. I could have made today even better if I blank was something that could have made me feel more connected to others. Then I get into what I'm going to do tomorrow. And you're like, dad, come Clarence, this is your PM routine. Yes, it is, and it's doing this. That has allowed me to quite frankly, get where I am and have what I have from where I came from.
And no comparison to you or no comparison to the biggest wealthiest people on earth. It's me versus me looking at where I come from to where I am, I think has been great doing these types of things. So then I break down what I'm going to do tomorrow. I visualize my future, and when I say my future, I'm really visualizing. I practice the 12 week year, which is a great book and great program. So in 12 weeks is considered the year, not 52 weeks, whatever my yearly goal is, we're going to get that done in 12 weeks. But then I'm also thinking about what does my far out future look like as well? I write down what are the one to three wins that I'm going to have tomorrow? These are the important things, not the urgent. What are the one to three wins I'm going to have?
And then I'm going to assign the time for those wins. I'm going to go into the calendar, assign the time, label it that, that's blocking it out. We're going to remember, we're going to use Panduro or the 50 minute Evan Pagan, and then I'm going to borrow all interruptions during that time. Of course, I'm only going to answer email at two o'clock or phone calls or all that stuff. I didn't really plan on going into my actual PM routine with you, but I'm always open to giving you exactly what I'm doing. So that wraps up today's episode. I know it's kind of a lower energy than most episodes, but this, I think the focus thing was really big. It was really big for me in the beginning. When I very first started working from home, I thought I'm going to end up closing my business and going to get a job because I can't stay focused.
I'm, I'd rather, instead of walking across the hall and going to work, I am just kind of lollygagging and it was not good. So I had to get my focus down and had to get my productivity even more. So the focus led to the productivity. So that is what led me to getting the focus. So to kind of recap what we covered here is you want to identify and eliminate your distractions, create a distraction free workplace as much as you possibly can. Develop a routine and a structure, okay? Establish a daily routine and make sure you stick with it. And then you want to prioritize your task and your goals. You want to do, you want to either eat that frog by Bri, you know how Brian Tracy does it, do the most unenjoyable but important thing that you need to get done. Or you can use the, it's called the heime method, the high impact minimal effort way, and that's making your list and saying what is the highest impact, but the takes the least amount of effort and do those things first, and then that leads you into the biggest thing actually 41% of your to-do of to-do lists are never completed.
That's from I done this and I totally believe that. And then we want to harness the power of mindfulness and meditation. Get that in. You get some meditation in you also on that ur, remember folks said, we'll go, nah, go check that out and then track your progress. You want to have a journal. One stat that I have here is that people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. You know this and I know this, so I hope these tiff are going to help you focus, avoid distractions and get so productive that you get way more done than your competitors think, but even bigger than that, way more done than you ever thought. Okay, so that's going to be it. And speaking of getting a lot of stuff done, got out before we leave, I have to tell you about our lead connector, kind of local marketer pro software.
If it's kind of an all in one marketing software, you're like, dude, you jumped into that. I know this is how the show gets sponsored. If you're tired of multitasking with all kinds of different tools, go check out localmarketerpro.com. It's our all in one marketing software that's going to revolutionize your business from email to text to voicemail to all of that. Alrighty, so next week, what do we have on tap for you? Let me jump into this. We're going to go over five types of social media content that are most likely to be shared. I break them down for you so that you can pretty much just stick with that. All right? So go do what you got to do. I'll see you next week where I'm going to keep helping you own your block.
Closing: We appreciate you listening to Local Market Monopoly. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the show and visit local market monopoly.com for more resources that will help you dominate your local market and own the block.
Note: Some of the resources below may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.
- Insight Timer Meditation App
- Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- Powerful Tools for Local Small Businesses
- Subscribe to the Local Market Monopoly Newsletter—my weekly update on what’s working in local small-business marketing right now, delivered free, straight to your inbox
- Connect with Clarence on LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Ask Clarence a question or comment.
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