December 26, 2012

What Makes Apple Work

Guest post by Josh Allan Dykstra
A couple months ago, the lead designer of Apple, Jony Ive, did a rare interview where he talked about why Apple does things the way they do.

Apple doesn’t behave the way they do to increase market share, raise the stock price, make the company bigger, or boost profits.

No, the reason Apple does things they way they do is for one simple reason:

To make a better product.

Jony says that if Apple can’t make something that’s better, they won’t do it.

This remarkable simplicity is a big reason why Apple is so successful. They have this “noble cause”* which allows them to say “NO” to the millions of pathways that don’t end up at a “better product.”

The truth is, unless we can say “NO” to the majority of good things, we’ll never find the great things.

Your noble cause doesn’t have to be “making a better product,” but you do need one. Try these questions on to figure it out:

* What’s the big problem your group is trying to solve?
* How will you somehow make the world better?
* If your organization were to disappear tomorrow, what hole would be left?

More than ever before, leaders and leadership teams must focus on prioritizing and making decisions — saying “NO” to the good in order to say “YES” to the great. If you want this for your group, a relentless focus on WHY you do what you do is unavoidable.


December 19, 2012

3 Stages of Stuck

Guest Post by Ben Arment

My guess is that when it comes to pursuing a dream, most people get stuck in one of these holding patterns:
 1. Don't know where to start.
The learning curve is too steep.
Never done anything like this before.
Are intimdated.
2. Can do the work, but don't know how to launch it.
It takes money they don't have...
Connections they can't make...
Just waiting for a breakthrough.
3. Launched but hasn't taken off.
It's bringing in little to no revenue.
Seems to be ignored.
The equivalent of a box of unsold books in the basement
The good news is - there's a way. There's always a way.
And finding it is your necessary rite of passage.

December 12, 2012

Franchise It!

The Franchise model is one of the strongest business models out there, but why? 

How does a single location become multiple ones and reach a larger geographic area?

The short answer: a repeatable system.
All successful businesses are run by an organized system. A single business location multiples when processes are documented and recorded. Basically every activity is written down in a handbook so it can be taught to someone else in the future.

Once this training manual is completed, the systems can be taught to new employees. Remember the "...for dummies" book series? They teach the basics so you can do it on your own. The more simple, repeatable steps there are, the easier it is to replicate. Clear instruction leads to easy implementation.

To open another location, follow the steps above and repeat!

In one of my favorite business books "Built to Sell" the author illustrates how to make your company sell-able. Your goal might not be to sell your business, but you'll never know how much it's worth until you build it to sell. When you streamline your processes by documenting them, it gives your company the opportunity to scale and function without your direct involvement. To all you control freaks out there, this concept may be scary to consider, but if your idea is dependent on your participation it will never grow to reach its potential without the help from others. 

As a new father, think of your business like a child. It's your responsibility to train and guide him/her to be independent enough to launch and leave the nest. 

There are plenty of successful franchises around to learn from. You don't have to copy what they do, but study their model to build your own franchise!

December 5, 2012

Accelerator University

Unemployment rates are still high and graduating with a college degree guarantees you nothing...but what's the alternative?
The current 20 something workforce has abandoned their hope in corporate America and turned to entrepreneurship. The learning curve is steep and the risk factors are high, but you do have more control than if you worked for someone else. 

When starting a business, experience is what you need. If it's your first company, you need mentors to help you avoid mistakes and advice to help you succeed. Where can you find that?

First, turn to your network. If you don't have a strong network, you better start building one. Success in your career depends on who you know, not what you know. 

If your idea has the potential to scale, now you can turn to investors. If accepted, one of the greatest learning environments in business is to be a part of an accelerator. 

An accelerator is usually a 3 - 4 month business incubator where you receive a free shared workspace and initial financial investment in exchange for a small percentage of equity in your company. Where the real value lies is with the accelerator's owners/sponsors who become your mentors. Their experience and guidance is invaluable. 

The concept of mentoring is what is lacking from the traditional education system. Listening to a professor lecture isn't how we learn. Visual or hands-on training is the best way to retain information and learn new skills. 

How much more effective would education be if mentors were assigned to each student?

It's something to seriously think about...

November 28, 2012

Pete Carroll on Sticking With a Vision


At a recent Nike WinForever Workshop, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll spent a few minutes talking on the topic of sticking with a vision. Specifically, he talked about putting forth this WinForever philosophy that we preach every day–and sticking with it.
You can do whatever you want to do with yourself,” Carroll explains. He urges that you take the WinForever vision to your work, coaching staff, family, etc.

“I promise you’re going to be thrilled about what changes,” Carroll says. “It may not come easy.” We know that if it were easy, it wouldn’t the real deal.

He ended the workshop with one strong statement to the audience, which you can grow from as well:  “I want to challenge you to compete. Battle. Fight your way through this. Stick with it. Don’t let up.”

“There’s nothing you can’t do.”

Follow WinForever on Facebook and Twitter as we continue to inspire a community of individuals to perform at their best every day. If you are ready to take the next step to maximizing your potential sign up here to Join the WinForever Movement.

November 21, 2012

Can You Fix Your Weaknesses?

Gallup's short answer is no. "There are no weaknesses, just overdone strengths."

This applies to your performance, not your character (which needs constant development).
 
Here are 3 reasons why:

The "Myth of Balance." You can't be good at everything. When you try to be a "jack of all trades, " you end up being a "master of none." Take pro athletes as an example. They stick to doing one thing really well and get compensated for it. Generalists don't get hired, specialists do.

Mediocrity. There are some things you'll never be good at. For me, I like to move at a fast pace, so I hate waiting for other people. I can try to be more patient in certain situations, but overall I'll always be somewhat impatient. It translates to my career because I want to take action. I'd rather delegate research and analysis to someone else because I hate it and also suck at it.

Overdone Strengths. There's a dark side to every personal strength.

If you're loyal, you can become blind to a fault. 

If you're analytical, it can paralyze you from taking action. 

If you're extroverted, you might talk too much. 

When you're potentially great at something, remember there are situations where you need to dial down the intensity. Your strengths can become a weakness if you're not self-aware of their implications.

This question comes down to focus. Would you rather work on developing your strengths or fixing your weaknesses? The choice is to: go towards (strengths) or away (weaknesses) from your desired target. Which will you choose?

November 14, 2012

Do What Matters Most

Guest Post by Charles Lee

#LiveForward

Life is Short. Do What Matters.

I know that we've heard it many times before. Life is short.


Yes, one out of every one person dies and none of us can predict when our day will come.


Since most idea-makers live in the realm of optimism (which is also one of our greatest strengths), it is quite possible that we may feel fairly invincible at times. The main drawback of this is that we may find ourselves doing things that may urgent in the present, but takes away from things that really matter to us at the end of the day. This may be as day-to-day as accomplishing daily goals or as significant as spending time wisely with those we truly love.


I've been trying to be more intentional of late to spend the majority of my time doing things that ultimately builds the things that matter most to me. This means that sometimes I have to say "no" to good opportunities. (I don't know about you, but this is extremely hard for me!) Staying focused is difficult and yet necessary. 


I know you know this. This is just a simple reminder for all of us to do what we know we ought to do.

November 7, 2012

The Power of No

Saying YES may be easier, but there's much more power in saying NO.

Here are 3 reasons why saying NO benefits you:

Prioritizing - Time is valuable, so how you spend it is crucial toward reaching your definition of success. Saying NO puts what is important to you on a list. When you say NO it means you are saying YES to something more valuable. Saying NO helps you spend your time wisely.
Boundaries - Imagine a game of tug of war, but you're on both sides of the rope. When you always say YES (even to things you don't want to do), your life is pulled around by others. It's like being in the passenger seat of a car and not having any say on where you're going. Draw a line between the things you want (YES) and don't want (NO). Determine what's inside and outside of your boundaries to help communicate and clarify your core values and desires.

Respect vs. Like - Most people don't like to say NO because it lets others down. Instead of being known as a YES-man (or woman), wouldn't you rather be respected because of your honesty to say NO? When you say YES to everyone, you become a hostage in your own skin. You become unhappy with all your obligations, yet have no one to blame except yourself. Saying NO means you understand you can't please everyone. Choose NO and uphold your values.

People who say NO are respected. Life isn't a popularity contest. Make decisions for yourself, not others. Practice saying NO now so when more important decisions come along you'll feel empowered to make the right choice.

October 31, 2012

Why Bill Gates Matters


Guest post by Zach Buckley
Leaving Einstein Behind
Albert Einstein has some things going for him, such as the theory of relativity. When people mention a genius, he's usually the first to come up.
In today’s world Bill Gates brought personal computing to the mainstream. He paved the way for new industries, professions and mindsets that would revolutionize how careers are defined. His influence is most evident among young, tech-savvy professionals seeking career paths greatly different from how their predecessors earned a living.
Technology has created new and different ways of doing business. It’s changed how professionals are fulfilling their job responsibilities. Young Professionals are flocking to the tech industry because of the unique set of opportunities offered. Thanks, Bill Gates.
Here are just some of the draws to tech positions:
Flexible Working Conditions
More often professionals are working remotely and outside of the standard 9 to 5 work schedule. These workers have more opportunities to build their own schedules to accommodate their lifestyle while doing it from home and cutting out the daily commute.
Increased Entrepreneurial Opportunities
Technology has greatly expanded the market for do-it-yourself types to create their own start-up companies. It's helpful to have a Degree in Information Technology to have a strong understanding of the tech industry. Plenty of professionals are finding ways to focus their own areas of specialty to create new tech solutions.
The low overhead of developing tech-based revenue streams, whether by creating mobile apps, becoming a social media expert or finding other ways to improve upon existing information technology - makes it easier to take risks with new business ventures and even do so without giving up a day job.
Tech Fluency as a Job Market Advantage
The younger generations never experienced a world where technology wasn't a part of everyday life. As these young professionals enter the workforce, they have an inherent advantage over older generations and will have an easier time acclimating to the continual changes that pervade the tech industry.
Technology has allowed younger professionals to reconsider their main motivations in the workplace, and as a result many are putting quality of life in front of money. Jobs that offer a healthy work-life balance are prefered. Bill Gates may not have had that in mind when he developed the first Microsoft computer, but it's definitely a by-product of his innovation.
About the author: Zach Buckley is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. He enjoys exploring developing trends in education, technology and culture.  When he isn’t reading or writing blogs, he enjoys sampling good music and good food. Follow him on Twitter! @Zach_buckley

October 24, 2012

The Startup Baby

There are a lot of myths out there about raising a child, as well as starting your own company. As a new dad, let me tell you that with a plethora of information available, there's no better teacher than experience.

Here are some parallels between being a parent and owning a Startup:



Time. Sleep is determined by the baby, so when the baby actually sleeps, you better sleep also. Your schedule for the time being revolves around your newborn because they can't help themselves. As a Startup company, unexpected events will arise and your schedule can be quite unpredictable. Some days you will have enough time to work, while other nights you will go sleepless working on a project. Time is finite, so spend time on what matters. 

Development. Some days you'll feel confident as a parent and other times you'll feel clueless. It's not about being perfect but putting forth your best effort to help guide and develop your child. In a startup, there will be peaks and valleys. The learning curve is steep. Overall, focus on making progress and look for visible growth.

Adapting to Change. Adults may be older, but try and control a kid and your life will be ruined. Kids evolve at a rapid pace and adjust quickly to new experiences. The Startup World is never calm and flooded with risk. If you're not ready to "pivot" (business term for switching to a new direction), you may overlook a great opportunity. Being flexible in a fast paced world is crucial to any amount of success.

You can't learn about parenting or starting your own company without actually doing it. Do your research and talk to others with more experience, but be ready to learn through trial and error. Nothing can fully prepare you for the "birth" of a new child/business, but don't forget the most important part: starting!

October 17, 2012

TV Teaches Me About Risk

Guest post by Jeff Okita
In most dramatic stories, the level of intensity rarely stays high for the entire show. If it did, the viewer would become fatigued and there would never be a climax to look forward to. Stories need dips so the audience can better appreciate the peaks. Put it all together and the contrast creates the overall excitement and anticipation for what's next.
Replace the X axis (horizontal) with "time" and the Y axis with "challenges." The up and down movement currently represents my life. I live a high-risk, high-reward lifestyle. The juggling of various responsibilities is a burden I welcome. I've learned a ton over the past 3 years, pushed myself a lot, but wonder if stability would have been a better choice for me.

Entrepreneurs have to embrace risk, like it's a good friend. Maybe risk should be coupled with periods of stability, yet the troughs give you time to heal and mentally prepare yourself for the risk-taking peaks. Only then can we truly appreciate the risks.

October 10, 2012

Go With The Wind

In golf, the absolute worst condition to play in is when it's windy. Rain, heat or cold can be uncomfortable, but wind absolutely challenges your skill level.

Since playing golf is frequently compared to life, what happens to you in "windy" conditions?
How many times have your plans been completely rerouted? Life is more about how you respond to your circumstances than how much control you have over them.

Take for example relationships. Sometimes you want so badly for a relationship to work out you do everything you can. Yet if it was meant to be, it shouldn't be that hard. That's not saying you won't have bumps along the way, but if your goal is to make things work regardless, most likely you're forcing it. Relationships are a lot of give and take, so when unforeseen circumstances blow your way, you should step back, look at the situation objectively and evaluate what's really going on. 

The same applies to your career. You might be applying for jobs and not getting what you want. It's frustrating, but maybe where you are is exactly where you're supposed to be. What can you learn from your current situation that you can take to your next destination? Your dream job could be eluding you because something better is out there. Keep networking, applying and looking. When the time is right, you'll know it. 

Sure, this is a bit optimistic in mindset, yet the alternative is fighting with the wind daily and losing. Going with the wind isn't sitting on your butt waiting for lighting to strike, instead it's taking everything into perspective while navigating ahead. You and I like to be in control. We prefer to plan our routine. Yet, how many times do things actually go according to plan? 

My challenge to you is make plans, but be willing to change them based on current circumstances. Life isn't about what happens to you, but how you respond to it. Historically the wind is undefeated, so see where it's blowing and ride it to your destiny. 

October 3, 2012

Battling OCD: Obsessive Comparison Disorder

Guest post by Paul Angone

Nothing is more vital to twentysomething success than comparing yourself in every way, at every step, to everyone, both near, and far.
Family, friends, acquaintances, enemies, Seth Godin, Justin Bieber, Jon Favreau, Jon Acuff — all are fair game, all are incredible motivational tools if you just allow yourself to study them at every angle and decipher how they have done their lives much better than yours.

Pour over your friends’ Facebook profiles. Find all those at the same age who have “Director” or “Vice-President” in their title. Go through every picture of her My Life is Awesome Album. Measure how big their smiles are. Study their well behaved kids. Figure out the square footage of their newly remodeled house. Look at how nice their husband’s suit is. Find the brand. Google it. See how much it must have cost. Go buy a more expensive suit for your husband. Lease a BMW. Take a picture. Put it in your My Life is Awesome-er Album.

We used to only be able to accomplish this feat of full out, look-you-up-and-down-comparison, at our ten year reunion. But now with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube we have the opportunity to compare ourselves to everyone, every, single, day. What a blessing.

“The key to success is comparing yourself to everyone, everyday. Then let that anxiety and fear propel you to work harder, faster, and with more motivation.” ~ Guy Who Had Nervous Breakdown at 33

Once you have studied, and obsessed, and found all the ways THEIR story is so much better than YOURS — like the jockey’s whip on the winning horse, you can use all this information as a measuring stick to smack your rear end into action. And pull down your pants first so that you can really feel the sting.

OBSESSIVE COMPARISON DISORDER

Or don’t.

Don’t compare yourself to THEM.

Don’t cram YOUR plotline into someone else’s story.

You’re not them. They’re not you.

Your story doesn’t fit in theirs. I’d be like watching When Harry Met Sally and then all of the sudden Shawshank Redemption cuts in. Billy Crystal wouldn’t have worked crawling through a sewer pipe to escape from prison. Billy Crystal worked with Meg Ryan. 

If we try to cram two separate stories together, then we’ll have a fragmented life that has no idea who or what it is — a story that will ultimately bomb at the box office.

As successful author/blogger Jon Acuff recently wrote in his article We Only Need 1 Tim Ferris (Jon Acuff – someone I like to compare myself too and then proceed to not write for a month because how could I write as well as Jon Acuff),

“We’ve already got everyone else, but you. We are short one you. We need you. We need your dream, in your unique way, with your unique thumbprint.” ~ Jon Acuff

YOUR STORY

So yes, be inspired by others stories but do not let their story dwarf yours. Do not become inflicted by Obsessive Comparison Disorder – a disease that runs ramped in American culture today. A disease that tells us to buy things we shouldn’t. A disease that devours Bubonic-Plague-Style creativity, energy, and peace — three vital characteristics you are going to need to write your story really well.
So the next time you find yourself wishing your life could be theirs, lingering a little too long on their Facebook Album as you fight the fight of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, remember:

“The the grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there, and realize it’s because of all the manure.” ~ Paul Angone Original (Imagine That!)

September 26, 2012

Superteams

The NBA is a perfect example of a new phenomenon happening more regularly: Superteams.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh were harshly criticized (me being one of them) when they left their former teams to join Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat. Players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan all went on record saying they would never recruit each other to join forces. 

This trend may be highlighted by the NBA, but it's spread into the business world as well. Joint ventures and co-founders are doing business together daily while strengthening their companies with added talent. Let's look at a couple of reasons why this is happening:    

Collaboration: When there is more combined talent overall, there are more strengths to work with and it's easier to eliminate blind spots. Creativity increases dramatically with more brainpower in the room. Alternative options are looked at because each person has a different worldview.

Reliance: It's much easier to focus on growth when the burden is shared. Responsibility is divvied up so no one person has to carry the entire load. When one person is down, there's someone else to pick that person up.

Generational: Millennials in particular prefer to join forces and collaborate. It's a fundamental recipe for success. They are hard-wired to do things together. Rarely do you see any single 20-something founders of companies.

Think of it as team leadership. Shared resources usually bring about a better product/service. Although it may be a concept accepted more readily by Millennials, overall its an idea that works to everyone's benefit. Long gone are the days of the lone ranger. Our egos may push us to be the superhero (Ironman), but why run solo when you can join forces and become a Superteam (Avengers)? 

Look deeply into your network and ask "Who are my potential business partners?" You can accomplish so much more with talented people around you, so start reaching out. You don't even have to figure out what you're going to do together, that may just come out of brainstorming! So what Superteam will you be a part of?

September 19, 2012

Co-Llaborate

Guest Post by Charles Lee

Collaboration is both a mystery and a miracle. It comes in all shapes, textures, and sizes. Collaboration is as unpredictable as the future and ever changing like the wind. It lures and dismisses us without warning.

Collaboration is truly a complex endeavor. It’s complex because it involves complex beings – yes, people like you and me! Collaboration is neither static nor guaranteed. There are a million reasons why one might not collaborate with another. For some, it may their lack of time and resources. For others, their hesitancy is rooted in the fear of uncertainty, risk, or lack of knowledge. These and many more like them are all legitimate reasons and warrant consideration before entering a collaborative environment.

Here are some of the common ways people view the nature of collaboration:

Collaboration as Option – Some view collaboration as a nice option for enhancing one’s own endeavor. In this view, collaboration is something one adds to his/her work when conveniently available but isn’t considered necessary for one’s goal.

Collaboration as Connecting – Some view collaboration as simply as “connecting” with others. It doesn’t entail too much work outside of getting together. In this view, collaboration is mostly an intellectually satisfying experience with minimal commitment.

Collaboration as Want – Many view collaboration as something they want. They know it’s extremely beneficial to moving forward in their endeavors, but find themselves questioning how it actually works. Based on my interaction with leaders, I think most are in this category of thought. They really do want to collaborate but feel a rising sense of pessimism because of previous experiences and lack the energy to seriously try again.

Collaboration as Necessity – This is a minority group of people who view collaboration as an absolute necessity in their pursuits. Despite some of the disappointments of past experiences, people who hold this perspective choose to open themselves up to new opportunities, even at the risk of being let down again. These individuals choose to learn from their past “failures” to become better collaborators and work intentionally towards paradigms, systems and arrangements that produce great partnerships.

Understanding how to perceive collaboration is a good starting point in deciding whether or not to participate. In my experience, there appears to be some foundational principles that guide healthy instances of collaboration. These principles are in no way perfect, but they do help to form productive interaction and “co-labor” (a key to co/laboration). For example, a practical way to minimize unnecessary complexity is to state upfront as to what kind of collaboration you think you are entering. Getting things down on paper, even if it’s a simple one-sheet agreement, can make a world of difference. Minimally, you and the person(s) you are collaborating with will have a point of reference for conversation and potential refinement of arrangement.

I know for many driven by a “relational” posture may view this as mechanical and artificial. Nevertheless, the potential awkwardness of creating a mutually agreed upon agreement is far better to experience than the level of frustration that often arises when this is not considered.

Another principle to embrace is for those involved to focus on actionable steps. Think big and act small. Creating milestones that are clear and linked to accountability will be key. Ideas are only as good as one’s ability to implement. If your meetings are not filled with actionable items, you may want to reconsider having meetings in the first place. Incremental implementation is what ultimately helps us reach our goals. Keep moving things forward together.

There’s no doubt that collaboration is both powerful and necessary in our world. How to go about co-laboring is something we all need to help each other on. Collaboration truly involves mutual “labor” and commitment to work. Developing one’s skill-set in collaboration requires intentional pursuit and life-long commitment. Viewing collaboration as necessity will open up a world of opportunities and perspectives that would not have been possible without it.

September 12, 2012

How Busy Are You?

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” – Alfred A. Montapert
If you ask people "How's it going?" chances are they'll say "Busy."

What does that mean? That answer is used like a badge of honor these days.

If you're not busy, does that mean something is wrong with you?

What if you took pride in not being busy? Meaning prioritizing your time to spend it on who and what you value.

Maybe people equate success with being busy. In our fast world, carving out chunks of time can be looked down upon. If you're not doing something, you must be wasting your time, right?! 

At the heart of the matter, what are you moving towards? If you're busy because you're chasing something that is significant, great! If you're busy just for busy sake, maybe you should take a step back and reevaluate how you are spending your time. 

Time is finite and depending on how you frame it, there's way too much or never enough. In the end, what really matters: how busy you were or how you spent your time?  

Think about that. How busy are you?

September 5, 2012

The Myth of "Slow Change"


Guest post by Josh Allan Dykstra


It takes a long time to build anything worthwhile.

·      Building a house = slow.
·      Building a relationship = slow.
·      Building trust = slow.
·      Building a great company = slow.
·      Growing a tree = slow.
·      Writing a book = slow.
·      Recording an album = slow.
·      Painting a painting = slow.

This isn’t really all that surprising. What’s really interesting is how quickly these things can go away.

·      A house can be demolished with a few explosives.
·      A relationship can be destroyed in an instant.
·      Trust can disappear in a moment.
·      A company can dissolve without warning.
·      A tree can be uprooted by a big storm.
·      A manuscript, a recording tape, or a painting can be thrown in a fire (thankfully this is getting harder to do with digital media).

There are a couple of lessons here, I think.

First, we should probably be more patient. Growing something good always takes time.

Second, most of us operate under the myth that all change is slow. But that’s only one kind of change: The “growing” kind.

If you want quick change, all you need to do is get rid of something. That kind of change is FAST, and it’s not always as destructive as my examples here. (For example, get rid of your performance reviews.)

August 29, 2012

Why Starting is so Important

This week's guest post is by my friend, by Ben Arment. One day I was searching the Internet for great website designs and found Dream Year. I contacted Ben and we connected about our visions for the future. Thanks Ben for inspiring me to chase my dreams. 
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
-Joe Sabah

One of the interesting turn-of-events in going after your dream is that people find out what you're capable-of after you do it.

They had no idea you were interested in the field, let alone that you could actually do it. Or that you were available to do it.

Many of us wait around for someone to give us a "dream job" but organizations only hire people who are actually doing the dream. They don't know you for what they can't see.

Think about it - if you're a cog in some company's machine, all people know you for is being a cog. If your dream only exists in your mind, it's invisible to the rest of the world.
It might as well not exist at all.

This is why starting is so important. You don't even have to succeed. Just start. Fail gloriously if needed. But the very act of starting will bring your dream to the surface.

People will know your interests. They'll see your hard work. Suddenly, you'll become available to them. A consideration.

And as we always say in Dream Year, the waters don't part until the heel of your foot hits the surface.

August 22, 2012

The Second Time Around

First gets a lot of attention, but there are times when coming in second might even be better. 

For example, when I visit a new place, exploration is fun, but I prefer coming back a second time so I can repeat the things I enjoyed the most. At a buffet, I put everything on my plate that looks good, but my second trip only includes items that tasted great. 
In business, the first time around is trial and error, but when you make it through, the second time is much easier. Don't try to fail initially, but expect mistakes when encountering the unknown. Serial entrepreneurs are much more successful than one-time entrepreneurs because of their experience. 

Don't let your fear of failure hold you back. How you embrace failure now will determine how successful you will be in the future. Rejection isn't as subjective as you might think. Don't take it personal and move forward. How do you "frame" your situation?

Think about your career. It's hard to figure out what you'll love doing until you try different options. It works with dating too. Most people don't marry the first person they date. We need that context to help us figure out what we're looking for. 

So the next time you're focusing on trying to get it right the first time, remember the second time around isn't such a bad consolation prize. Isn't that right McKayla? 

August 15, 2012

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Guest post by Zach Buckley

So you've got a killer idea for a business? That's great. But if you want to skate through life on the quality of your ideas, you'll have to get in line. Everyone would like to turn their concepts into profits while putting in minimum effort, but it rarely works out that way. In most cases, an idea's success is tethered to the person or people who believe in it. If those parties understand how to turn their concept into something tangible, they could eventually realize their dreams.

But there are a lot of steps between points A and B, and a lot of obstacles and demands must be faced. It takes more than an entrepreneurial spirit to build a business. Multiple sacrifices must be made, and in the end your business concept needs to be flexible to adapt to changes in circumstances. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs make founding and running multi-billion dollar companies look easy, but that's often the end result of years of hard work without any promise of a payoff.

If you are serious about committing yourself to entrepreneurship, you need to be ready to pour everything you have into it. That won't guarantee success, but it can go a long way.

Sacrifice is both financial and personal

Any entrepreneur needs to understand the stakes of starting their own business. They also need to know how much they're willing to give to achieve success. How long can you live without an income? How much can you afford to put into your business? How important is family time, and how do you plan to address your personal needs?

Unfortunately, life as an entrepreneur is rough. Running a business isn't a nine-to-five job. As the head of the company, your job is to make sure things get done, no matter what the personal or financial costs. If that means missing your daughter's soccer game to do it, so be it.
 
Not everyone is willing to make that sacrifice. There's no shame in that, but it's critical to recognize those limits before you commit yourself, your finances and your family to achieving your dream.

Embracing globalization as a cornerstone to success


Adapting on the fly is key. No matter what you do on your end, there's no assurance that a long line of customers will be chomping at the bit to scoop up your products and/or services. Maybe you're not looking in the right places. You may have had one target demographic in mind, but if your first efforts don't yield any success, you might pivot by expanding your borders or going beyond them.

Globalization has been a boon to many companies that have expanded their consumer base by expanding their marketing efforts to new communities, regions, countries and continents. The same technology makes Skype interviews and global conference calls a normal part of business expansion in the 21st century. Even if your initial disappointing performance has you down, it could be that you just haven't found the right consumer base to establish and grow your business. Continue to make adjustments to your marketing tactics, target market and demographics to see if you've simply miscalculated where your services will be most valued.

Last but not least, entrepreneurs need to tap every ounce of patience they can manage if they want to survive the startup phase of their business. Success may not come quickly, and it may not be easy, but being impulsive and/or reactionary is a recipe for disaster. Don't forget the time you've taken to develop your product. If you give up you're tossing away the time, energy and resources that you've invested. Keep pushing.

About the author: Zach Buckley is a freelance writer based in the Midwest. He enjoys exploring developing trends in education, technology and culture. When he isn’t reading or writing blogs, he enjoys sampling good music and good food. Follow him on Twitter! @Zach_buckley

August 8, 2012

A Golden Opportunity

As the drama of the Olympic Games unfolds, gold medals are highlighted, but listen to the individual stories of hard work and sacrifice that weave the tapestry of the competition. 

For every medal that is won, hundreds are lost. Picture the competitors that train for 4 years, yet come up empty. How do they define their Olympic experience? 
Personally I see the parallel as an entrepreneur. 

For every book written and success story covered by journalists, there are thousands of failures.

How do you define success? Is it based on money earned? Influence spread? Popularity? 

Only you can determine that. Sometimes starting at the end gives us perspective. For example, I remember a graphic on a tombstone that asked the question, "Title or Testimony?" Ponder that. Ultimately, what do you want to be remembered for? 

According to Dan Pink, we strive for purpose, autonomy and mastery, yet what's your story?

Just because you didn't win, doesn't mean you're a loser. 

Just because you're not where you want to be career-wise, doesn't make you a failure.

Just because you didn't meet your expectations, doesn't mean you underachieved.

Hard work doesn't always equal your desired results, but without it you don't stand a chance. 

If life is a journey, you won't always get what you want. Even with the right process, the product doesn't always match up. I believe your ability to cope with unfavorable circumstances determines your worldview. What matters is how you deal with adversity. When you get knocked down, how quickly do you get back up? 

So the next time you don't succeed, how will you respond? That determines your impact.

August 1, 2012

Takeaways from Warren Bennis

Guest post by Jeff Okita

Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my role models, Dr. Warren Bennis. As an established author and widely regarded as a pioneer of leadership studies, he is truly a remarkable person. Here are some takeaways from my interview.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson used to ask people he hasn’t seen in a while - "What has become
  clearer since we last spoke?"

- Dr. Bennis intellectualizes as defense. People who intellectualize tend not to get
  emotional/visceral.

- Freud wrote about 6 methods of defense. A great leader has a great repertoire of defense
  mechanisms.

- Know who you are, the effect you have on others and what roles call on you.

- The boundaries of authenticity - one is a limit of the norms of the culture, but also a
  personality factor.

- Be authentic to your role.

- An increase of sources of news will make transparency easier

- On what advice you would give the current administration - "Obama has to call on shared
  sacrifice; there is a hunger for it from people who live in this generation. Be specific. Ask  
  for sacrifice"

- Bennis thinks that the people need the voice that FDR provided through fireside chats.

- How do you mobilize communities? Through groups or individual leadership? Both.

- Any structure will work if the people want it.

Bennis is a caring person. He makes eye contact with every person in the room, for an extended period of time, as if looking into your very soul. Bennis ponders and remembers intricate facts about his childhood, people he’s meet and passages he’s read. After our conversation, I thought "this man is exceptional, and different than anyone else I’ve ever met." What a truly great experience that I'll never forget.

July 18, 2012

Risk + Reward

No risk, no reward. A simple, but powerful statement.

Picture a spectrum. On one end is the analytical thinker and on the other is the emotional risk taker.
Where do you fall?

In business and in life, there needs to be a healthy balance of the two. For example, before starting your own business, you must research the industry, know the costs and forecast your profits. You also need to identify opportunities, be willing to invest time and money while passionately selling yourself.

From my own experience if you're going to err on one side, choose risk. You can only do so much prep, but when push comes to shove its about taking action to get results. Timing is everything, so you have to be ready when opportunity strikes. If you over-analyze your situation, you'll miss out. 

Talk to serial entrepreneurs who have failed more times than you have tried. Their ability to cope and move forward is inspiring. Sure, they do their homework on taking calculated risks, but their goals are huge. They determine their own standards. They see the potential greatness and chase it tenaciously. 

The difference is direction. Are you going towards your goal or trying to avoid obstacles? The answer to that question will greatly determine your chance of success. 

Your daily challenge isn't to think about it, but just do it! Identify your target and start making progress now!

July 12, 2012

Insights into Finding a Mentor


Guest Post by Charles Lee

Mentorship is one of the primary pathways for growth in my life.

I’m fortunate to have some great people in my life that continue to shape how I think (mind), what I value (heart & passion), and how I get things done (skill-set). I learned early on that what I deem to be “success” will have a direct correlation with the kinds of people investing in my life. I always have my eyes open for individuals who embody the kind of life that I hope to live. People of deep compassion, unwavering integrity, innovative thinking, and undeniable generosity inspire me.

In seeking mentorship, I’ve found the following thoughts to be helpful in finding the right mentor:

Mentor Your Strengths – Too many people focus on strengthening weaknesses and overlooking the need to strengthen strengths. While it’s important to get help in areas of one’s weakness, I’ve found that mentorship works well when you’re working on strengthening your strength. I think this context will also inspire your mentor to be more engaged since the questions you bring up are probably what they have considered or continue to ponder. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have some mentors that help you develop your weaknesses. Nevertheless, don’t forgot to engage some that will strengthen your strengths and help you go from good to great.

Take Time to Explore Mentorship Expectations & Objectives - Most, if not all, mentors you seek are probably extremely busy! You may want to take some time and develop a realistic plan for engagement. Be clear on why you think they would be a good mentor and gauge their level of interest by asking them. How often are you hoping to connect with them and why? In person? Phone? Email? Be upfront and be open to them shaping the experience. Also, be sure to clearly articulate what you hope to get out of the mentorship as well as how you hope to support or even contribute to their work. Never underestimate the value you bring to a mentor relationship.

Not Everyone Is A Good Mentor - Don’t confuse the public success of a person with their ability to mentor. I’ve found that there is NO direct correlation between a good public leader and their ability to mentor. If possible, find out who they’re already mentoring (or have mentored) and see if you can get in contact with them. Ask them about their experience and some of their main takeaways. This may help you gain insights into the main strengths of the mentor.

Don’t Rush Mentorship - The success of a great mentorship experience is often wrapped around timing. Given the ever-changing climate of our lives, no two mentorships will be alike. Be open to progressing steadily. Mentorship rarely happens at the speed you would like. Stay patient. The greatest benefit to having a mentor in your life is that you have access to them. That’s a gift. If they have committed to being your mentor, they want to help you. Just be sure to stay flexible on how and when they can be helpful. If they believe in you, they will make time.

Continue to Learn - I try to stay up on the lives of my mentors. Even if I’m not meeting with them in person regularly, I make sure that I’m reading their works, listening to their talks, and sending quick notes of appreciation or thoughts about their recent work. We’re all fortunate to have technology that allows us to stay connected. Why not use it?

It’s truly a privilege to receive mentorship from a person you admire. Therefore, it’s important that we make most of these opportunities and engage well.

Charles Lee is the CEO of Ideation, an idea agency that specializes in helping organizations and businesses take their ideas and make them remarkable via creative strategy, organizational development, branding, design, marketing, web, social media, and influencer engagement. He is also the author of Good Idea. Now What?, a book that guides people in implementing ideas well. In addition, Charles is the creator of grassroots efforts including the Idea CampIdeation Conference, andthe Freeze Project as well as the co-founder of JustOne. Charles regularly speaks around the country on topics such as creative process, idea-making, innovation, branding, new media, and social entrepreneurism.

July 6, 2012

The Power of Invisible Business

Guest Post By Josh Allan Dykstra



It’s easy to overlook invisible things.

After all, by definition we can’t see them.

But there are plenty of invisible things which cause real, tangible effects.

Wind.
Rules.
Emotions.
Biases.

What we often forget is that the majority of business is invisible, too. Much of our work happens behind the scenes, out of sight.

This “invisible” side of business occurs in two places:

1.    In our minds. Our perspective on whatever we’re doing is completely invisible, but has a powerful impact on the results we achieve. Our thoughts really do become things.

2.    In the systems of our organization. All groups have processes, rules, and structures. At some point, all these things were created by a human being — many times haphazardly, often times badly, sometimes accidentally. These invisible boundaries dictate how we interact with each other at work.

(More than that, did you know that 80% of the value of your business is made up of invisible things like culture, morale, talent, a strong brand, meaning, and engagement?)*

In our work, as everywhere else, invisible things have a tremendous impact. But we don’t pay attention to many of these things, and they wreak havoc on our wellbeing because we forget they are there — and that they are powerful.

If we were to recognize them, though, I suspect the world might be different. If we would turn our focus towards the invisible, could we adjust these things to be life-giving instead of life-sucking? Could we create a better future for ourselves, individually? Could we design energizing work environments, collectively?

I think we can.

//

*Read more about this in the book Human Sigma.