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.


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.

July 2, 2012

Growing Pains

When your startup is going through a growth stage, new members are being brought aboard and different layers of tasks are created. Now you're not just responsible for the vision and strategy, but also managing new employees. Here are some suggestions to streamline the process:   

Know your Strengths. Think of an athlete. They are paid to do one thing very well. Identify what value you bring to the business and make sure you stick to doing that. What one aspect of the business will fail if you don't focus on it? Consider outsourcing or delegating everything else.

Build around Fit. Recruit talent, not your friends. Picture puzzle pieces fitting together. Compliment your team by adding people who are different from you. Hire for roles versus just titles. A strong team consists of everyone in the right seat on the bus. 

Get an Outsider's Perspective. When you're close to the situation, you're susceptible to blind spots. Bring someone in that can look at your company objectively. Listen to their observations about chemistry and execution. The goal is to let the business run efficiently on it's own.

As a company grows, there becomes three layers of skill sets

Executives focus on strategy and growth of the company.

Managers are responsible to lead the team under their supervision.

Technical employees take care of the customers and complete the assigned tasks.

Growth is a good thing, but unless you deal the pains associated with it, it can take you down. Don't lose sight of why the business exists and keep growing forward!