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

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

- 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.