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    Thursday
    Jun222017

    Your Worst Times May Be Your Best Times

    Someone asked me what things have occurred in my life and career that have had the most impact, and without question, it has been things that seemed like bad decisions, bad moves, and bad situations. It’s not that I enjoy pain, but I’ve been more motivated, hungrier, and more driven when I’m pulling myself out of difficult situations, than when everything seems rosy.

    For some people, challenging times and missteps might seem like terrible experiences but I’ve learned more about what works, my inner ambition, and raised my skill level during the worst of times. On the business side my door-to-door selling at eight didn’t turn out well. I was bitten by a big dog. My mail order business at fifteen had little sales and gobbled up all the funds I had saved. The business plan I was writing in my late teens was destroyed in a home fire. My weekend seminar business, created at twenty-three tanked after I ran out of money and ideas to promote it. This certainly sounds like a string of losses, but in each case I learned a ton, and was able to apply the lessons learned to later business successes, including launching a sports media company that capitalized on the emergence of the Internet, and invented an industry-changing tool for sports teams.

    Not only have the difficult times been great times of learning, the most important lessons seem to come to light long after the experience. For example, I can advise other entrepreneurs in many areas today because of missteps I’ve made, and things I’ve learned, but it isn’t always obvious to me how significant these insights might be until I hear what decision another entrepreneur is making. This is why I challenge you to not judge your circumstances too soon. It may take a while to see the best thing about the worst predicaments.

    Thursday
    Jun082017

    Does Your Organization Remember?

    I often tell my audiences that we all must be more aware of current trends and practices, shifting tastes and preferences of clients, and partners, and become more relevant to younger audiences. No matter how “classic” we believe our offerings to be, we must find a way to make them appealing to a new generation of buyers. That said, we must also strive to keep our organizations sufficiently connected to the past so that our work, decisions, and strategies have a context from which we can move forward.

    I think of this as I watch the current crop of digital companies, entrepreneurs, and leaders and see the decisions being made in terms of product development, content, and marketing. I can truthfully say, that not much has changed in my thirty-seven-year career in business, despite the appearance of everything changing. But we now operate in a different context and the advent of new technology – and more important the widespread adoption of technology and its relatively low cost, and high impact, means old ideas have greater impact on us all.

    For example, back in the 1980s I worked in a media organization that struggled to keep pace with the need for comprehensive daily reporting (feeding the beast, as it is known in media circles), serving a fickle audience, and trying to make money doing so. Our most popular Internet/media companies struggle with the same problem today. Think, Yahoo and Twitter.

    This week I heard a person, widely viewed as an Internet “guru” (a term, I hate) talk about the relevance of audio because of Apple’s decision to invest more heavily in Siri-driven, in-home sound systems. He noted that podcasts now enable people to save time by listening to ideas and more people will “discover” that.

    I was struck by the “old-is-new” aspect of this guru’s comments. I discovered audio in the 1970s as a learning tool. (The first major audio learning was released in the 1950s by authors like Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale.) Struck by the impact listening to ideas had on me, I’ve personally been recording audios since the 1980s and have many audio learning programs, and audiobooks in circulation. Fifteen years ago, there was a surge in audiobooks on CDs, and in the 2000s, Audible, a company that had struggled for many years, began to find its way when the iPod and iTunes, began to revolutionize how we listen. What’s different today is that consumers can instantly buy audios, or subscribe to an audio podcast using a mobile device – which means they’re perhaps more inclined to. My human, industry, and organizational memory has kept me investing in audio as a key component of my strategy. How about you?

    What do you remember that can be more valuable to your organization in these times?

    Saturday
    May202017

    Just Graduated? Seven Tips for Success

    It’s graduation season. Millions of new college graduates are thrilled to have achieved this important milestone in their lives. But you may also have feelings of trepidation about what comes next. Well, now the learning really begins. Here’s a list of recommendations on how you can maximize this moment in your personal and career evolution.

    1-OWN: Don't look for a job, create a job for yourself and think about how you can create jobs for others, right now. Shift your mindset from consuming to producing. Find a way to capitalize on what you already know, and the momentum you currently have as an achiever.

    2-PROGRAM: Take control of your mind and thinking. Program yourself for success. There are a lot of negative messages in the world. Build your confidence and overcome any self-doubt you feel by studying the paths and challenges of successful people. Make sure you are engaging in positive self-talk daily.

    3-INVEST: Build your courage and overcome your fear of risk and loss by learning to invest in yourself and in promising projects now. Realize that this investment may not immediately show huge returns but by taking this step you are building equity, and ultimately your ideas should lead to consistent cash-flow and valuable assets.

    4-DREAM: You are probably thinking too small. Think bigger. There’s lots of money and opportunity in the world. There are many, many ways, you can win. There are many, many, ways you can make situations and opportunities pay off for you. Learn to spot and eliminate scarcity thinking – which is the world’s most common and deadly disease.

    5-SELL: Learn the skill of selling yourself and your ideas. Cultivate the habit of good substantive conversation. Learn how to ask for what you want and be able to articulate what you have to offer to those you are asking. Make proposing, selling, and closing your strongest skill. 

    6-SERVICE: Build a network of relationships beyond your peers and age group. Go places you would not normally go. Meet new people and then find a way to service your new relationships in ways that create lasting, meaningful relationships. Stop thinking in terms of what your network should give you, but what you should be giving to your network. 

    7-PROSPER: Get over money hang ups. Listen to your internal dialogue about money and make sure you overcome thoughts of lack. This is an abundant world. No matter what your experience has been, you can attract significant amounts of money. Focus on moneymaking, earning though excellent products and service, accumulation through saving, investing in profitable vehicles, and building wealth that can turn into generational financial independence.

    Finally remember that your education has just begun. Now is the time to read feverishly about these seven subjects, reach beyond academic ideas, learn, and develop "streetsmarts" about these concepts and never stop studying! Congratulations and great success!

    Monday
    May152017

    Too Many Businesses Are Only Playing Defense

    When a business is launched, and trying to gain footing in its market, the founders instinctively play, “offense.” They’re doing everything they can, to move forward. They’re always trying to “score.”

    They tell people about their products and services, they develop new offerings and market them, they’re alert to new opportunities in every interaction with others. They’re focused on momentum. They even try long-shot attempts to advance.

    But even well-meaning business people can slip into a dangerous pattern – and in business, that’s focusing just on survival. A business is merely existing and starts dying when the people who run it, are focused on “defense,” which is where millions of businesses exist today.

    Not marketing the business? That’s defense.

    Not getting back to people? That’s defense.

    Not spending money on the right people and training? That’s defense.

    Avoiding incoming calls? That’s defense.

    Micromanaging costs? That’s defense.

    Focused 100% on that big bill looming? That’s defense.

    You can go years, playing defense and not realize it. And it can become so much of your culture and personality that you no longer are conscious of the big potential in your organization to grow, make money, and prosper.

    When business people talk about defensive measures they often sound experienced and wise, (very common in big businesses and non-profits) but defense without offense is the death of a business. You can’t “cut” your way to success. You can’t sell by avoiding people. And you can’t uncover new potential opportunities if you’re unwilling to entertain conversations and proposals that on the surface seem off-target or out-of-reach.

    Many organizations suffer from a lack of leadership. That does not mean there isn’t someone in the role of leader, but rather the person in charge has a limited vision. In my experience, limited vision is usually a symptom of low exposure to ideas and opportunities. But here’s the surprising thing; it’s usually self-inflicted. Often, they’ve turned their firepower inward, rather than outward.

    This week, start playing offense again. Be open to ideas and proposals. Talk to people you’ve been avoiding. Call someone and explore how you can work together in partnership, even if on the surface, it seems you can’t afford it, don’t have the right idea, or there’s some other obstacle present.

    Playing offense means constantly moving toward your goal, playing every angle, and leveraging every bit of talent on your side. There are countless ways to score and win. Stop focusing only on defense and improve your offense game, and you’ll be victorious more often.

    Thursday
    May042017

    Rare Air

    In the 1990s I had a meeting with a New York investment bank that counted among its clients, the most successful companies in media and technology. A banker friend of mine, when he learned I was having this meeting said: “That is some rare air up there, in that office, my friend.”

    It is true, the company known for its ability to bring together moguls and dealmakers dealt in an uncommon commodity; the world-changing potential of billion dollar deals. I noticed right away there was a distinct company culture.

    The people in the organization projected a sense of confidence, authority, and a certain kind of charm. It seemed like this attitude was carefully cultivated in the staff – a sense of how to deal with the most celebrated figures in business. They were careful with me, and how I was received and treated, as I entered this environment. The company had a reputation for influence in my industry and I was not let down by my experience when I visited. They lived up to their reputation as a premier player in the market.

    I’m reminded of this incident because the only thing I saw when I entered this investment bank were photographs of significant clients, framed logos of its corporate relationships, and beautiful furnishings.  But frankly this was not unlike any other high-end financial institution. What made the experience come alive were the people I encountered. They exuded the brand.

    The major variable for every business aiming for better clients, increased revenues, and profits is talent. Although we’ve achieved extraordinary advancements in automation, across all industries, people are needed to define technical needs, and respond when automation cannot. In other words, there’s a human factor to doing business that we cannot escape. We are emotional beings and we crave the interaction, rapport, empathy, attention, problem solving, support, and status, that only other humans can provide.

    If you accept my premise, you’ll surely accept that people are the defining factor for the organization that you run, or that you’re a part of, and you cannot escape the impact that personality, point-of-view, judgement and communication style will have on your business. You can have a brand reputation well-honed over many decades which can be undermined in minutes by a bad interaction with a sales or client service associate. It is why, giving attention to the ongoing development of the people engaged in your business is so crucial.

    The best organizations recognize that training and cultivating a corporate culture is an ongoing requirement. But more important is asking yourself how you can create an environment where everyone feels every day they’re part of a special place, on a special mission, and in service to special people – and they make that obvious.

    I don’t think it is only a New York investment bank that can give its clients, colleagues, and partners a special feeling. Every organization can create rare air.