Put Yourself In Position of Ownership

A few weeks ago I saw a short video clip of Jay-Z and he shared some gold, which has made him a multi-millionaire. He talked about his concern with ownership. Owning his publishing and all the rights to his music. Chance the Rapper shared some of that same advice on social media a little while back. Ruslan talked about it in his song ‘Indie Jones’. He talked about how labels wanted major shares of ownership an he decided to stay own his own so he could own his music outright. This isn’t just an issue in music, but in other areas of business as well. I want to share a couple of ideas when it comes to ownership.

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Why Management Might Be A Better Path

There have been many athletes, artists, actors, and other professionals who have made their marks in history. We often see their talents and abilities but we miss the forces behind the scenes that made it possible. Behind every great artist there is great management. Sometimes it is a management team or sometimes it is a single individual. I have had the honor of interviewing many managers on my Business with Bordeaux Podcast in the last 2 years and plan on interviewing more. In this post I will be using the term “artist” as a way of referring to anyone who might work under a manager, not just a musical artist. My goal is to point out some positives of a management career which may be a better fit for you rather than building up your own career as an artist. Here are a few reasons why I think being a manager might be a better career choice.

1) Managers are able to stretch themselves easier than artists. An artist has to be concerned with their individual career and creative process. When you are a manager you can have many clients who you are able to work with. If you build the correct structure in your management business, you will be able to maintain many clients careers effectively.

2) If an artist takes a career dive, it doesn’t necessarily end the managers career. An artist can make a fatal career mistake and never be heard of again. There have been many times where an artist has a terrible accident and can no longer perform as they use to so they have to retire. Essentially their talent gets taken from them. It takes a lot more to completely take away the ability for a manager to lose their ability to perform their duties.

3) For many artists/performers, age can remove them from the market. Whether a musician, athlete, even a lot of actors get a certain amount of time before they age out of their field or before they loose the attention of their audience. People don’t get tired of managers because they are never seen. They can continue working with older and younger clients as well as training up and comers.

4) One of the most dynamic parts of management for me is the idea that a manager’s job is to elevate someone other than themselves. The whole job is to help market and grow another person’s career. Though some can abuse this relationship, all of the people I have interviewed has a heart of helping. I do notice that some of the individuals I have interviewed who are artists don’t like promoting because it is drawing attention to themselves and their music. They have great hearts but a dilemma since they are the ones in the spotlight.

If you have any interests in finding out more information on artist management, check out the Business with Bordeaux podcast and see if it is something you might want to start building toward.

Building An Effective Team | Bible and Business

When you look at multiple areas in the Bible you can see crowds of people with different talents and abilities. We can look to Jesus and see how he built an effective team. Jesus surrounded himself with fisherman, money handlers, a zealot, and others who did not specified occupations. Jesus was a teacher/rabbi and didn't have others who were said to also have his type of calling as a teacher. 

Jesus taught. The fishermen fished. The money handlers took care of the finances. The others helped in various ways. I just recently heard from a pastor that it is wise to find those who don't have identical strengths as ourselves or there can be conflict on who does what job. If there is a group of ministers trying to start a church, they may all want to preach all the time. You need to have someone who has organizational skills, those who handle finances, those who serves hands on with people. Imagine if Jesus just picked a bunch of teachers to build his ministry. That would not have been a well balanced group of people to have a traveling ministry. Even though I believe Jesus could have had a successful ministry with anyone, I think he handpicked this type of group to be an example for us. He also brought along a thief. I think Judas and Peter are two examples to show that powerful organizations and ministries can be built with all kinds of imperfect people as well. 

I am not sure if Jesus had any friends before his ministry. The Bible does not specify this. I do think it can be a mistake if you build an organization around your best friends. Often friends have similar interests and strengths. When you have all the same strengths and all the same weaknesses you are more than likely to hit several roadblocks that can bring on many problems within your business. If you have a leadership team who all specialize in finances and you don't have a visionary, a person to build strategic plans, people to execute the plans, you do not have a well balanced machine. It is also important to remember that every part of a well ran machine needs all the different parts for it to run effectively. Do not look at any one part as more important than the others. Even Jesus washed his disciples feet and took the hits from those who critiqued their ministry. He continually held his people up and protected them as a servant leader. 

If you try to start a music label filled with all artists it will likely not go far because everyone is trying to be creative and build an audience. You need to have a website team, a sales team, marketing team, etc. When I hear of a few aspiring artists trying to build a label I can already see their lack of diversity in talents and abilities becoming a problem from the start. So for anyone who wants to create anything important be sure to have a strong team around you of diverse talents and abilities. 

 

Maximizing Your Talents | Bible and Business |

Even though we might be all loved equally by God, he doesn't give us the same amount of gifts or talents. This is shown in scriptures a few times. One area where we can pull from that might help us in the business mindset is Matthew 25: 14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money." 

In this parable we see these servants receive talents, or money, according to their 'ability.' We might be the person who is only ready for the two talents or even the one talent. We can often become discontent because we weren't the person getting five talents. No matter the number of talents, resources, or skills you have, you need to be giving it your best. Do not let jealousy take over when you see someone get started with more than what you did. This can also be true in any workplace. When a manager gives you any kind of task make sure you are doing your best to fulfill that task with excellence. Do not match your work ethic to the level you view the job. If you feel the job is simple, give it your absolute best. This is how you progress to higher levels of responsibilities or promotion.

We all live in different economic conditions and grow up in different kinds of families. This can lead into the comparison trap. We might be tempted to look at others and compare ourselves to them. God doesn't want us to compare ourselves or our success to others. We don't always know the full circumstances of others so our metric for comparison more than likely will not line up. Without comparing, you can watch those who are further along than you and learn from them. We should always have a mentor who is where we want to be. This takes a level of humility that we are not used to in American culture today. If you look back in scriptures, the disciples studied under Jesus, Timothy studied under Paul,  Elisha studied under Elijah, etc. We have to make sure we are not just criticizing those who are at a higher level than us, but try to learn from them. That can help give you direction on how to take your talents and gifts to the next level.

At the end of the day, find out what your talent is, work it to the best of your ability, and learn from others who can help guide you into success. 

The Purpose of Influence

Should we as believers try to gain influence? What is the purpose behind us gaining influence? There was an unfortunate situation that happened recently in which I saw influence play a major positive role. We had one of our staff members at Trackstarz who was attacked in his home with acid. He is still in recovery and going through intensive surgeries. He did not have any health insurance and has major medical bills stacking up. A gofundme was started for him and his medical bills. We, Trackstarz, started sharing the information and it got around to Derek Minor who took up this cause and pushed it on all his platforms to bring in awareness. He then reached out to Lecrae, Andy Mineo, and others who also shared the story and because they did, more people heard about the story and donated to the cause.

One definition of an influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. The above story isn't a purchase, but a cause that needs financial support. Becoming an influencer is about having the trust of those around you. Since you have people's trust and you are considered an authority figure, you can ask your audience periodically to do or buy something in order to help others. Pastors can ask their congregation to donate to a certain ministry, politicians can ask people to vote on certain bills, and music artists can ask people to support certain businesses, artists, and/or causes.

In the Body of Christ we are to support one another and help each other in times of need. Influencers are able to get others to pay attention to certain stories that their audience may not have heard about otherwise. This is a huge responsibility for influencers. One thing they have to keep in mind is how many times they ask their audience for something. If an influencer is always asking their followers to give money, purchase something, or vote for something, their audience will get drained after a period of time. 

Having influence is not a bad thing if the individual with the following has the right heart. Imagine if the CEOs of Facebook, Apple, or Google were believers. They would be able to help out great causes in major ways. Not only with their influence, but their own personal finances. This is one of the main reasons why I created the Business with Bordeaux Podcast is to help people grow in their journey and find marketplace success. This can lead to influence, which can in turn lead to helping the Body of Christ worldwide.

As you continue on your journey, be sure to pray for those who are in an influential role. Pray for their hearts and your own as well. We all have influence over someone, so lets use it wisely.

Make Due With What You Have

As a Christian, I am a huge fan of applying biblical principles to business. There is a very great principle that many have heard and it is being a good steward of what you are given. Making due with what you have. This applies to our personal lives and our side hustle/business. No matter what we have, we are to manage it the best way we can. I wrote an article a while back that focused on being grateful for what we have. There are times when we see what others have and think about what we would do if we had it. The main focus is to take what we have and make the best out of it.

When we read the parable of talents there is usually a focus on talents being money. Talents are also a representative of actual talents, skills, resources, and anything else we are in charge of. I think one of the most important things to remember is that God has given us talents to manage. When we are wishing that we had other people's "talents", we are not being thankful for what we have. There is also the mindset of proving we are ready to manage more by managing what we already have responsibly. A lot of times people have to be amazed with what you can do with something small in order to trust you with more. If you do what everybody else can do then there is no reason for you to manage more "talents." 

Another thing to keep in mind is mastering the management of something at a small level before you get into a higher level of responsibility. When you think of managing investments, it is better for someone to handle a smaller account so the risk of failure isn't as big as a multi-milion dollar account. There is going to be failure in everyone's venture at some point or another. It is better for this to occur at an early point in your journey rather than at a major point in your future career. So make sure while you are at the level you are currently in, you make due with what you have.

A Ten Dollar Roadblock

This past week on the Business with Bordeaux Podcast I had special guest Kelly Cole on to share a ton of wisdom including a lesson he taught his son about a ten dollar roadblock. Kelly Cole has invested a lot of time and money into his son's music career. They have worked hard in making music, performing, and getting music out there. One day Aaron told his father that rapper, Da T.R.U.T.H was holding a contest and he wanted to enter and his father told him to go ahead and do it. A few days later Kelly asked Aaron how it went and Aaron responded by saying he didn't submit anything because he didn't have ten dollars to pre-order the album which was one of the prerequisites for entering the contest. Kelly then had a discussion about not letting something as small as a ten dollar obstacle stop him from achieving his goal. 

I feel like many times we have a small ten dollar obstacle that we let stop us from progressing to the next step. It can be triggered by fear. There is fear of the next step, fear of the unknown, and for some there can be a fear of winning. We should always be ready to face the ten dollar obstacle. Don't push so hard for a little stumbling block to hold you back. It is perfectly fine to ask for a little help every now and then. Many would be happy to help you with a stumbling block. Some people have pushed through so many roadblocks that when they encounter a small one they finally just quit. You have to remember this, if it were easy, everyone would do it. 

Work Like A Volunteer

I know I know, the title probably doesn't make sense right away. Stay with me though. I promise I have a point to make. My daughter was granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish foundation. They sent us to Disney for a whole week. It was a major blessing and my family had a great time. While in Florida, my family lodged at Give Kids The World Village. Most of the individuals who were there making the experience wonderful were volunteers. These volunteers worked harder and had better attitudes than most paid employees I have ever encountered in the professional workforce. 

I wondered why this was true. I would normally think that paid employees would be more likely to smile and seem grateful for their tasks at hand being that they are getting paid to work. When I looked into these volunteers and their reasoning for being there, I realized they wanted to be there to make those who they were serving feel more special than ever. Their reasoning made the difference. In many cases we work jobs to earn an income to pay bills. This is many people's reason to work and that is pretty much it. Without a meaningful reason, we can feel like we are in a hamster wheel. 

This is a feeling I do not want entrepreneurs to ever feel. When you start your journey in your side hustle or anything you are venturing off too, make sure you know your reason and it has meaning to you. If it is just for money, you will not be happy. I heard most of my life growing up to find something I would do all day for free and figure out how to do that for a living. This is more geared toward being happy in your career, but I think it also applies to fulfilling your purpose. I hope you are doing whatever gives you a sense of purpose and meaning. If you can find that, you will be much more satisfied in your work life.

 

Why Diversity Is Needed

I've been in a lot of discussions lately regarding perspectives and diversity. I remember when I started my current job at the hospital I work at, I was required to go to a diversity training seminar. This seminar focused on trying to be openmined to other cultures and practices that are different from our own. With that came listening to others from a different culture and the way they view society, the world, or even business practices. It is important to have a broad view of the way people operate and taking that into consideration when making business decisions.

One of the most recent mistakes was a commercial from Dove. They had a commercial that came off very racist without that being the intent. When that happened many people online protested the company and said they would no longer buy their products. This was probably an issue with a lack of diversity on the marketing team. Here is the Dove commercial. https://youtu.be/pAIgDredHpw

Another company who probably didn't have a diverse team when releasing a commercial was Pepsi. They released a video in the midst of a lot of the police brutality being fresh on the news and they made it seem like their beverages could calm everything down. Even if that isn't what was intended, it was how it was received by many. That was an error on their end. Here is the video if you haven't seen it. https://youtu.be/73P9STckPLw

Even if you as a business person meant something great by your advertisement or promotional video, you have to think of how it can be perceived by different cultures. That is why having a diverse group of individuals who are great at their job is important. Surround yourself with individuals who see things a little differently from how you do and you will have a better chance getting the right message across.

 

What The Health?

No, this isn't going to be a post about the Netflix documentary. This is going to be a discussion about maintaining good heath while living the entrepreneurial life though. One thing I have noticed in conversations with entrepreneurs is the difference in the focus on health when getting started in their business ventures. Some people tend to gain weight and others fight to make sure they maintain a good healthy lifestyle. Some people are in the middle. One thing I want to make sure everyone is doing is being proactive living a healthy lifestyle rather than let it slip away.

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Don't Wait, Live Out Your Calling Now

I believe that everyone here on earth has a calling of some sort. I also believe that some people find it early in life while others spend their whole life searching for it. This week I would like to address those of you who know what you are called to do. I specifically want to address those who are waiting for the perfect opportunity to live out their calling.

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The Important Launch

As many of you may know, I have started an Anchor channel this week. This is another platform for doing audio content like podcasts, interviews, etc. When I started playing around with this app, I let a friend know about it who I thought would get some great use out of it. This individual has a community of supporters who were able to help him launch his station. Having that community allowed for him to chart high on his launch. There are two important factors when preparing for a launch.

  1. The first step is making sure you have a launch team ready. This consist of people who will give you accurate and honest feedback on your content leading up to the launch. They can make suggestions on particular things that would improve the overall content. The most important thing is having a lot of people promoting the content once it is released. This will help download numbers and exposure to a new audience/consumer base.
  2. The second important thing is making sure the content is top notch. You want to make sure you are putting out the best representation of yourself and your content. To do this, you want to carefully prepare your content for a first time listener. They say first impressions lasts a lifetime. This is also true for your business or creative content.

With saying that, I do want to make another important point. You don't have to perfect your content because you may never feel like it is ready to be introduced into the world. If you are waiting for your content to be perfected, you may never release it. Make sure you don't do that. Set a launch date and make sure you are working as hard as you can before that launch date. Your launch team will be able to help you with that journey.

When The Competition Becomes A Partnership

Think about the industry that you are in. There are probably many businesses who are offering similar services or products as you. In the commonplace market these other businesses are considered competitors. More than likely you have many competitors in your space. This is completely normal, unless you are in a very different line of business. One thing I am personally learning is that what we can generically see as competition, can actually become a partnership of sorts. This can happen in several different ways.

  1. If there is a company that offers similar services as you, they may only really be able to handle more wealthily clients. Big branding companies can charge thousands of dollars a month to their clients where you may only charge hundreds. For that bigger company, they can offer much more to their clients than you can because of the size of their team. You could always talk to the leader of that company and see if they would be willing to direct clients with a smaller budget to you and you will return the favor by pointing clients who need more than you can currently offer back to them. Quid Pro Quo.
  2. Many times it is helpful if different companies specialize in certain areas. Say you have two media companies. Both may dabble in music production, engineering, and video production. If the two find a way to narrow their individual focus to a specific area, they could master that particular area more and share clients. Most of the clients really need all those services combined and so you can work with the same client for different services. This also gains the clients trust. Companies who are after the money will often offer to do anything for it. Those who care about the outcome of the client, will try to make sure they get the best service provided. Having a partnership with someone else in that field allows for that to be accomplished.
  3. Another possibility is to create an affiliate programs. This is similar to the previous idea. Only this would provide incentives for your partners to send business your way. When they send you business, you send them a portion of the income from that business transaction. This works really well for many companies and small business owners.
  4. After working with a partner like this, one day you may actually combine forces full-time. This would be considered a joint venture where a new company is established and all the services and products are provided in that new company. This is usually a harder thing to accomplish, so it doesn't happen too often. It can be hard to figure out the leadership dynamic and overall company structure in these scenarios. This usually turns into an acquisition instead of a joint venture. Make sure to get some experienced third-party help if you plan on creating a joint venture.

These are just a few ways to convert a competition into a partnership. There are others creative ways to do this as well. You really need to get to know others in your industry and make sure you don't burn any bridges. Business isn't about tearing down everyone else so that you can succeed. It is about being the best at what you do and serving the customers. That can often include pointing them to another business that can better fit their current needs. This shows that it isn't all about you, but about the customer. It is a narrow path and that is why very few take it. Stand out and be smart and considerate.

What Is Your Passion Worth?

Follow your passions. Follow your dreams. Do what makes you happy. These are all common phrases we hear when we talk with others about our future plans and careers. I have heard discussions from several viewpoints regarding these kinds of statements. There are a few things that you can not forget though. Doing something that you are passionate about does not mean that anyone will pay you for it. There has to be a demand for what it is you are wanting to do. Especially if you plan on making a living doing it. When I say demand, I mean people who support financially, not just vocally.

One of my biggest podcasts includes podcasting. I have two that I am a host of. I love doing them and will continue to do them whether or not I get paid full-time or not. Many people pray for me that I will be able to sustain a living doing what I do now, but I know there has to be people who value it enough to exchange monetary value for intellectual/entertainment value. I started both podcasts understanding that. Even though those are my passions, I do not look for them to pay my bills. I will continue to find ways to monetize those ventures of mine as long as I do them. That would be a dream to be able to do those for a living. I do understand that dreams alone do not pay bills.

I will probably get a lot of pushback on this topic I know. I don't say this as a lack of faith or anything. It is just a fact of understanding the market. If you have a dream of something you would like to do full-time, you need to understand how to monetize that passion. I will not put my passion over my family. My family is my first passion. I have a responsibility to make sure their needs are met with God's grace and help. Please be sure you are taking care of your responsibilities before chasing your dreams.

The Blessing Of A Part Time Business

I've been seeing a lot of people talking about running their businesses full-time and making a living off of it. I think both angles have their merits. I wanted to talk about both of them briefly in this weeks blog. When people get started in a business, it usually starts as a side hustle. This is something they do in their spare time because they enjoy doing it. For some people it involves making music/art. For others it is mowing lawns, fixing cars, or working on other things that they enjoy. After an individual find a way to get paid for what they enjoy, they might think about how they can do this to pay their bills. In all honesty, this is where I see people go from doing something they enjoy to it becoming a stress.

When you are dependent on making a living from being self-employed, you add a layer of duty and responsibility to the thing you used to do just for fun. At that point you may stop having as much fun as you used to. You then have to focus on how to market it, sell it, decreasing the cost in order to make better profit, etc. When you do something for fun there isn't as much stress on the cost because you are not 'required' to do it. When it is paying your bills you have to focus on so much more than just having fun. This can be a downer for some folks. When I interviewed Aaron Simpkins on the Business with Bordeaux podcast, he told me that his goal was to be able to run True Strength Apparel part time and have another part time job to help pay bills. I didn't fully understand that then, but I do see now why he feels that way. He wants to enjoy having more freedom in running True Strength Apparel than just finding the best way to profit in order to feed his family. Ryan Moore from Trackstarz also shared his story of running Trackstarz full-time. There was so much stress involved with trying to worry about personal finances and also worrying about the finances of the company. Sometimes it can be just too overwhelming.

There are some great advantages to running your own company full-time and paying bills from it. I have interviewed many entrepreneurs who have made it work. At the same time, I don't think it is for everyone. It is perfectly fine to have a small business that you run part-time. It is less stressful and allows for more freedom in many cases. The big question is, what is best for you?

The Facade Of Fake Followers

Social media is a huge driving force for many businesses today. Especially any online business. It is the cheapest form of marketing that currently exist. One of the most common metrics in social media is the amount of followers that a person or business has. The problem with this metric is that it doesn't really show a real following. Even though there may be a million followers, only about 1% might actually be active followers. When I say active, I mean people who actually keep up with what is going on with the business. In reality, this may only mean 10,000 people are actually keeping up with what is going on. Depending on the type of industry you are in, 1-10% might be the number of active followers. This ultimately changes depending on how much you stay engaged with your audience.

Being engaged with the followers you do have is more important than the overall number of followers you have. These fans/followers will grow with you. Here are a few ways to make sure you are staying actively engaged with them:

  1. Respond to everyone who comments on your content. Don't just say 'thanks' and be done. Actually discuss the content with them or see if they have any questions.
  2. Follow your followers. This is a great way to see what it is they are interested in and allows for you to see what their needs may be. You can also use this as a chance to do market research as well. There could be things that you are not including in your content that they may want to see or hear.
  3. A DM means a lot. Direct messages are a way to reach out to a follower one on one. It means more than just a tweet or response in the comment section. You may actually get some really valuable information discussing things one on one with a follower. It will also make the follower feel more important. Having that conversation can really make a person respect you as a person and not just a public figure or business.

I see many bigger name artists and public figures who don't really connect with their followers and that makes them seem fake or like they think too much of themselves. It is important to remember that these followers are the ones who are potentially going to be paying you for your service or content. In that regards, they are your source of potential income. Don't treat them like dogs nipping at your feet. Treat them as real individuals who support what you do.

Doing The Research

There are certain steps that individuals must take before starting a business. Often some steps are focused on more than others. There is one part of business that many people do not pay attention to when getting started. That is because this area is not the most fun. It requires looking at data, numbers, and statistics. You may have guessed it by now. That area of business is research. This is a key step in any business plan in order to maximize profit and efficiency. When we decide to launch a business, we need to research the market, the competitors, and possible future environmental factors that may interfere with business.  There also needs to be research on demographics, locations for physical stores and that local market, and the political issues that may effect that business short and long term.  It is important to look and make sure your product or anything associated with it isn't infringing on any copyright or patented material/product. Studying others who have succeeded and failed in your line of business is very helpful. It is important to learn from others successes and failures.

The length of time of research varies depending on the type of business. You are looking at years for any kind of medical or children products typically. It is also important to make sure you have accurate data. Making decisions off of unreliable data is not a good practice.  Stay away from making assumptions. We often make assumptions about businesses and they are not always right. A lot of business owners make big decisions before researching the relevant information needed. Do not be lazy with your research either. Like anything else in your business, be diligent with it. If this area is not an area that you feel you can handle on your own then you need to find someone who can assist you. That would be much better than not doing it or research information incorrectly. Just make sure you are making the best informed decisions possible. It will be better for you and your business as you look to get started or expand.

Investors And Debt

As we hear about start up companies in today's world of tech, we know of so many companies raising funds and trying to eventually become net positive within 'years.' I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound too appealing to me. Once that money runs out, they raise more funds. It is a repeating cycle for so many companies. When there are no more funds to raise, debt becomes the next go to. It is so common for folks to go into so much debt to start a company and it can become dangerous. This is the way most people think you have to start a business in today's world. I submit to you to think of a better way.

First, I want to address the investor aspect of this. When people are raising funds they are selling a portion of their company. The more money they raise, the less of the company they own. Eventually, the owner could end up loosing controlling interest of the company. This means that the other owners could kick the current owner out of the company. Usually they can't take their equity away, but they can take them out of a position of control and change the company all around. This isn't a fun experience for business owners. Debt is another big issue for companies. Business owners usually take out debt that they are personally responsible for when starting out. This is a super stressful thing for business owners to go through.

There is a term that is used in small businesses called bootstrapping. This is where you put up some kind of money to start a business, then use the profits to run the company and grow slowly. This is an old school approach before there were angel investors or big banks for loans. This is the way I recommend any small business owner to try to grow and operate. Owning a business is like maintaining a household. The more debt that is accumulated, the more day-to-day stress will be seen. It is just overall a bad situation. Some people will try to rebuttal with the company's growth rate being higher than the interest rate of borrowing money, but that doesn't take into the rate of risk and environmental factors. I may dive into this topic a  little more at a later time, but for now, I hope this has been somewhat helpful.