Broker of the Year Qualifies for Million Dollar Club by Judy Arndt
Like many other people who are graduates of the American Cash Flow Institute®, Dr. Anthony Cicone, CFS, first heard about the training available to become a cash flow professional through a direct mail letter sent to him by the founder of the industry, Larry Pino. Unlike other people, Cicone received assurances that his vocational future lay in the cash flow industry from another source, but more about that later.
Cicone’s cash flow adventure actually began a few years before he received Pino’s letter. “Back around 1988, I was serving as an associate pastor in Charlotte, NC, and there was a fellow who was on our church basketball team who was with the asset-based lending department of a bank in that area,” Cicone explains.
“He was interested in starting his own business to help people whose loans had kind of ‘slipped between the cracks,’ in his words. As an asset-based lender, he saw that a lot of good deals (were denied) because they were presented the way the entrepreneur wanted to put the package together rather than as a banker wanted to see the loan package presented.”
Cicone’s friend believed he could help people prepare their loan packages to the bank’s satisfaction, and invited Cicone to join him in that endeavor. r Although Cicone entered that business in good faith, his friend eventually lost his job at the bank and quit the business. Since Cicone’s friend was the one who had all the institutional memory and the connections, the company he and Cicone had started eventually went out of business. However, Cicone had learned a few things.
“In the course of my exposure to this,” he says, “there was one asset-based lending deal that we couldn’t get done, and I remember that he gave me the loan package and said, ‘Why don’t you go ahead and take this over to a factor. He’s here in Charlotte, just down the street.’ That was the first time I had heard the word ‘factor’ since trigonometry class. So I took it over to the factor.
“My involvement in that business was an introduction to the cash flow industry, although at the time I didn't know how encompassing the cash flow industry really was.”
It would not be until 1995 that Cicone would take his next step toward cash flow.
By that time, he had earned his doctorate and was senior pastor at a church in Memphis, Tennessee. “If I wouldn't have had that kind of exposure to the industry, I might not have had enough interest or understanding to really comprehend the implications of whatever was said in that first lead letter that I received way back when.”
Many people can look back at distant memories and see the sequence of events that lead to present circumstances. Cicone, as a devout Christian and a man committed to doing the will of God, believes those events are ordered by a higher power. Pino’s letter falls into that category as well.
However, we must flashback again to another event in Cicone’s life that is directly related to his cash flow experience.
Cicone was pastoring a small church in Kannapolis N.C. part-time, was working on his dissertation, and was living in Charlotte. There was a Christian retreat center nearby where he would often go to relax. He had a boat there and would fish on the pond that was part of the center.
“I was driving around Charlotte one day, and I felt led to drive down the road to the Christian retreat center, he says. “It was about lunchtime, and I hadn't planned on going there but I felt like I ought to go.”
He wasn’t going to fish. “I drove there, and when I arrived, there was a very small lunch group. The gentleman who owned the retreat center and two of his friends were seated at a table preparing for lunch. There was another place available at the table, and when they invited me to join them, I was glad to do so.”
Shortly after lunch, Cicone experienced something that he believes represents the first stage of very definite signs that God was leading him to the cash flow industry.
For the sake of clarity, some theological explanation is needed. Several days after Easter, Christians celebrate the day of Pentecost, representing the event through which Jesus’ disciples were empowered to become apostles. On the day of Pentecost (Shavuot in Hebrew), so named because it took place on a Jewish holiday called Pentecost, the Bible teaches that the apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit, which enabled them to do the same kinds of miracles that Jesus had performed during his time on earth. Christians still celebrate the day of Pentecost and the reception of the Holy Spirit (known as the “filling” of the Holy Spirit) and many Christians believe that those same powers are available today, through the Holy Spirit.. The powers are known as the “gifts” of the Holy Spirit and are discussed in several books in the Bible.
While Christian denominations may differ on which gifts are being used today and even on how the gifts manifest themselves, most theologies teach that a church operates through the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit demonstrated by its members.
One of those gifts is the gift of prophecy. Prophets, in the modern church, receive messages from God that they consider prophetic.. In some churches, the pastor is the receiver of this message, and his sermon is the message. In other churches, the message can be received by one or two people and may be for the benefit of an individual or for the benefit of the church. The prophet does not necessarily have to hear audibly God speak to receive these messages, but the messages must be tested for their veracity. One of the keys to determining whether the message is actually from God is to find some Biblical reference that is the same as or supportive of the prophetic statement. Prophecy, by the way, is not just a prediction of a future event. It can be a word of instruction or caution. In those cases where individuals receive messages for other individuals, the statement should be received by more than one person, often in different circumstances.
“These three guys were all gifted prophetically,” Cicone says of the men he ate lunch with that day. “This one fellow, after lunch, said, ‘I have a word from the Lord for you.’ I wrote the whole thing down and I still have it in my journal. One part of it was, ‘You will hear a word behind you saying, `This is the way, walk you in it. “
The message came from Isaiah 30:21, a book in the Old Testament.
At the time, Cicone had been praying about finding a wife, and he thought that might be what the message was about. He did not hear the message again until he was living in Memphis and pondering whether he should respond to Larry Pino’s letter about the cash flow industry.
Cicone attended a prayer meeting shortly after receiving the letter and asked the people at the meeting to pray for him about whether he should look into the training program Pino’s letter promoted. He says that after prayer requests were given, the people at the meeting would sit down in a chair while others would gather around and pray for them. Each person was prayed for individually.
“The fellow that was leading this prayer meeting in Memphis was a very responsible guy, had a doctor's degree, and he taught at a local Christian school,” Cicone explains. “He was standing behind me as I was seated on this chair and he prayed the words, ‘ . . . and you will hear a voice behind you saying this is the way, walk you in it.’ It was basically the same words that I had gotten from this prophet back in Charlotte about three years before.”
Cicone took the factoring home study and received his certification in 1996. However, he was still pastoring full-time and says he didn’t really work the cash flow business full-time. “It was more like spare time,” he says. “I really didn't do a whole lot until I moved to Greenville, South Carolina in October of 1996.”
In Greenville, Cicone accepted a call from a smaller church and had a little more spare time to work the cash flow business. He set up a Web site and got business from it. He tried several of the marketing methods he had learned but without much success. . He believes he was able to gain some knowledge and confidence about the business during that period of time.
By May of 1998, Cicone had left the pastorate and gotten married. His wife was a pharmacist, and he was working a small sales job.
They had made the decision that he would go into the cash flow business full time. The Saturday before the Monday when he was to start full time, the Cicones shared a family devotional time. Cicone selected a devotional book from among the many they had received as wedding gifts. The book listed a Bible verse for each day of the year. To the Cicones’ amazement the Bible verse for that day was a familiar one. “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.” Cicone took this as confirmation that indeed his decision to enter the cash flow industry was the right decision.
He worked the industry full-time for about a year. During that time, he was contacted by a client who wanted financing on consumer receivables (unsecured consumer contracts)). He found someone willing to do the deal, but when he took the offer back to the client, he discovered that the clients had changed their minds and wanted to finance their contracts internally.
After about a year Cicone extricated himself from the cash flow industry and, with his wife, started a church in Simpsonville, SC. Before re-entering the cash flow industry, Cicone also joined the faculty of a theological school and took computer technology courses at a local technical school.
Then, a little less than two years ago, even though Cicone had a new address and telephone number, the company that needed the consumer receivables financing called him. Cicone took the deal to Monterey. “Monterey looked at it again. They had some questions but were able to get their questions answered get comfortable with the deal, and eventually they went ahead and approved it.” He’s still receiving residual commissions from that one account and has qualified for the Million Dollar Club.
“A big part of whatever success I've had in this business has been because of my wife,” he says, wanting to communicate how much of a help his wife, Elsie, has been. “She does the Internet technology side of this and the Web design. She does all the accounting work for me. Plus, she's very supportive. She has a very entrepreneurial spirit and understands what I'm doing and is very interested in it.”
There is a little more to Cicone’s story. First, his business is flourishing. He isn’t just relying on that one deal. Second, he and his wife pledge a good portion of what he earns to faith-based charities that help children. Third, he has been a student of the stock market since 1987 and plans to improve his earnings by using a program he purchased from Dynetech, ACFC’s parent company.
It is a program called Wizetrade. Cicone wasn’t sure that investing in the market should be an integral part of his business until he went for Wizetrade training. Cicone usually led the family devotions but that night he says he was exhausted, and asked his wife to read from the Bible and pray with him before he fell asleep. “I felt pretty confident that God wanted me in the cash flow business, but I didn't want to make the mistake of stepping out into another area where God really didn't want me to go,” he says. “She just opened her Bible to where some time ago she had placed a brochure from a Christian conference we had attended . . . and she started reading. She read a few verses, and before I fell asleep, she came to the passage, ‘And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.’ We were amazed again because my wife had no intention of reading this passage and wasn’t cognizant of its presence in Isaiah. Therefore, we took this as further verification of what we had previously received and as an OK from the Lord to move forward with Wizetrade.”
Cicone is still following that path. “Those are the four different things, and . . . I’ve got the feeling that the book isn’t closed on all this. My wife and I don’t really know if this is a business that I'm going to be doing indefinitely or if this is a transitional period into another type of ministry, or some combination of both.
Cicone and his wife are excited about their participation in the cash flow industry, he says, because it gives them an opportunity to do things with their earnings that they hope will touch people’s lives. “So we're excited about whatever possibilities might lie ahead.”
Right now, Cicone is working a number of deals, some that involve millions of dollars, and looking forward to the future. He and his wife are in the process of adopting a child from China.
But he remains open to whatever God has for him to do in the future and continues to look to his Lord for guidance.
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