January 9, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend,

I have to confess. Lee Eisenberg has not, to this point, been a dominant influence in my thought life. Sure, he was in a pretty high-influence position - as editor-in-chief for Esquire magazine until '99, but... I don't read Esquire, so he missed me. Then, while downshifting from the high-pressure that came with the high-influence, he had an offer to move from New York to Wisconsin... and take the helm of the catalog publications of Lands' End. Again, he missed me. The catalogs at our house go straight into the Cheri-stack and avoid my already-jammed desktop.

But, at long last, Eisenberg got to me. I caught a glimpse of his recent work product through a snippet carried by Newsweek. The snippet led to a web search; web search led to a pile of printouts. He's nailed me; I'm buyin' the book for my first coast-to-coast flight of '06, scheduled for next Monday.

The book? The Number. His subtitle - the tag-line under the title, on the front cover, that makes the "offer" to the shopper, that sells the book: "A completely different way to think about the rest of your life." Hook set. He's reelin' me in...

Eisenberg is no financial planner; he's a lead-journalist. Not a front-line, news-of-the-day reporter; instead, he has worked behind lines, in the monthly publication world where it's not the fresh-every-morning stuff, but - rather - the meaning behind the madness that gives magazines coffee-table expiration dates. Newspapers wrap the garbage; magazines accumulate in the doctor's waiting room. Lee is 59 years old - an early-Boomer - and he has taken his own preoccupation with The Number, and used it as the motivation to marinate in the subject for his readers' benefit.

What's The Number? Simple: it's the self-prescribed size of the pile necessary to turn the corner of life and get on with what you're really here for. How much is enough? Tough question...

How big is the pot at the end of your rainbow? What would it take, in lottery winnings, to get you to call in "retired" next Monday morning? Well, your response to that question varies based on which group you're in. The groups? Eisenberg names them...

Procrastinators avoiding the discussion. Their 30's and 40's are spent dancing around the questions that affect their 60's and 70's. Can someone say, "denial?"

Pluckers have quick answers to the questions - they can give you an answer, but there's no formula behind it. "A million bucks." Great. How do you know? Silence. Thin air behind that citation.

Plotters have an Excel spreadsheet under their pillow, to crunch in the middle of the night. They rerun the numbers - to get The Number - every day, based on the Dow, at the closing bell.

Probers are looking behind The Number, asking the appropriate, "Then what?" question that lurks around the corner from financial self-sufficiency.
Eisenberg is savvy: he recognizes - and writes - that The Number is not an end, but - rather - a means. The great goal of life is not just to capture the wherewithal, but to then use the pennies in the pot to fund the life of impact... that flows from your Calling (my language, not his).

The Number is the bottom line for Earthlings in our culture. The bottom line for the citizens of the Kingdom - who are temporarily Earthlings, but destined for Heaven - is a whole different deal.

The Number, according to Jesus, is 100x. Wherever you live, whenever you live, whatever you do, the ultimate objective is 100x: "But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13:23) Calculate God's investment into your life - the time, talent and treasure entrusted to your self-management. God is expecting you to produce a hundred times more than that, in impact that can be delivered into Eternity.

Interesting: most people don't know their Earth number, but spend their whole life chasing it. We already know our Heaven number! How much of this life are you investing to chase that?

Bob Shank

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