Are We So Busy Reaching Goals, We Miss What Matters Most?

Discussions on leadership often focus on strength, presence, and decisiveness, all important elements of effective leadership. But those are just the utilities of leadership. Genuine leadership that affects people deeply, that fills deep wells of trust, is demonstrated best in the act of generous praise. There is perhaps nothing more welcomed and inspiring to someone than an unexpected, thoughtful compliment.

Full article on NewCo. Shift, by Jeff Chavez

During the 2016 IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland, Jess Thornton from Australia carried the weight of her nation as she attempted to win the 400m final leading up to the Rio Olympic Games.

Yet, in the midst of these Olympic-level stakes, just as the competitors came to the line, she took a moment to respectfully acknowledge Salwa Nasar from Bahrain. Nasar had recently made the heart-wrenching decision to leave her native Nigeria, where poverty robs young women of talent and potential, for the opportunity to break-out and flourish in Bahrain. Her choice was a refusal to leave her potential unrealized and Thorton’s brief moment of praise reverberated around the world….

Full article on NewCo. Shift, by Jeff Chavez

A Great Idea vs. A Great Leader

Would you rather have access to the next great idea or access to a great leader with a mediocre idea?

Bill Draper, world renowned venture capitalist, was once asked this question, “When evaluating companies, do you pay more attention to the idea or the leader?”

Considering the intense focus by entrepreneurs and investors for the next big idea, I think Mr. Drapers answer is telling.

He explained, “The Leader. Even if a product is wrong, a great, visionary leader will come up with another idea. During a presentation, I keep my eye on the top person, looking at how he interacts with his team, if he understands his audience, if he is the least bit unsure, or if he lacks information he should have had. Most of all, I am looking for judgment. Why did he make certain choices in life?”

Perhaps entrepreneurs should focus on leadership skills, sound judgment, and excellent decision making as their first priority. Then, and only then, does trying to find the next Great-Idea become a worthwhile endeavor.

The Killer Instincts of Entrepreneurship

Over the last 20 years I’ve been entrenched in the world of entrepreneurship.

I’ve learned that the best of the entrepreneurial breed have a distinct set of instincts. These instincts are what enable them to create a functioning organization from just a spark of an idea. It’s an amazing and miraculous process to witness and experience.

However, “Entrepreneur” isn’t a label reserved only for the builders of businesses. It’s an accurate label for someone who leads the establishment of any organization. It’s a label for the builder of any successful movement, cause, project, team, or group; large or small.

Like a great athlete or musician with natural instincts, some people are born with amazing and obvious entrepreneurial instincts. Others…not so much. But like sports, music, or anything else, one can choose to learn through study and practice, the instincts of entrepreneurship. With persistence anyone can become a successful builder of an organization, movement, or cause.

There are few things so satisfying as establishing an organization that produces something of worth, and more important, creates an environment for other people to serve in that cause.

Over the last several years I’ve been speaking and teaching about, “The 11 Killer Instincts of Entrepreneurship.” These are the instincts shared by the fraternity of well-known entrepreneurs from around the world and from the annals of history.

The true leaders and top performers in every company, profession, industry, or charity possess a majority of these instincts. How do you measure up?

  1. The Solution Instinct:This is about problem-solving ideas and always seeing them. It’s about seeing new opportunities while traveling, shopping, or working. Seeing problems and potential solutions to those problems is at the heart of every valuable idea. Creativity is a dominant force in this process.
  2. The Detective Instinct:This is about fact-finding and due-diligence. It’s about letting go of the emotion and excitement of a good idea and taking a venture-capitalist approach. This instinct is something that keeps one constantly assessing how an organizational model will work, scale, and succeed…without personal bias.
  3. The Great Communicator Instinct:This is about connecting and continually selling the message. It’s a constant awareness that every point of communication matters. Whether communicating with partners, investors, vendors, employees, or competitors; every communication is an opportunity to strengthen your mission and be the leader of your cause.
  4. The Youthful Genius Instinct:This is about doing what you love. When we were young, we dreamed big dreams and showed glimmers of what we might become. Tapping into the expectation and excitement of our youth is central to successful entrepreneurship.
  5. The Entrepreneurial Heritage Instinct: This is about how our heritage can reveal our deeper passions and purpose. Exploring the accomplishments and failures of your roots can help one tap into opportunity, passion, and purpose. There is a reason why many families pass along entrepreneurial success and create “dynasties” of their own.
  6. The Risk-Taker Instinct:This is about going out on a ledge. No risk, no reward. It’s the fundamental factor for crossing the chasm of an idea to an organization. Finding the calculated balance of risk and opportunity is key.
  7. The Work-Horse Instinct:This is about paying the price. Doing whatever it takes. Those “overnight successes” usually require at least 5 years of hard work and incredible sacrifice to get there.
  8. The Thick-Skinned Instinct:This is about being tough. Resilience, optimism and a positive mindset reside in every great entrepreneur. What is the fundamental key to success in attaining goals? To never give up.
  9. The Flexibility Instinct:This is about being willing to change. Emotion and pride must be removed from the process while building an organization and paying attention to the best route to take. The right path naturally eventuates; if you’re able to recognize it and willing to take it.
  10. The Human Instinct:This is about people. Attracting the best people is more important than the idea itself. Treating people well, leading well, and serving with care is a fundamental reason why anything worthwhile should be built in the first place.
  11. The Knowledge-Quest Instinct: This is about constantly learning. Reading, thinking, listening, observing, absorbing, and applying is a hallmark instinct of a great entrepreneur.

Avoid Paralysis of Analysis

ParalysisWe’re flooded with information.

Lot’s of it piques interest but eventually you simply get stuck staring at it all… “Is this the right thing to do next, or is that the right thing?”

That’s Paralysis of Analysis! And before you know it, hours, days, even weeks can go by and you’re still stuck in the exact same place—nowhere.

The truth is, analyzing information creates a feeling of productivity and it creates the illusion of progress when it’s really just another insidious form of procrastination.

So, here are some important tips that can help you bust out of Paralysis of Analysis:

Tip #1: Unsubscribe from those unnecessary lists, set inbox rules, and find an expert who can answer your questions quickly. Limit your information influx and you’ll have a lot less stuff to analyze!

Tip #2: Don’t over-think your business, keep it simple. I don’t mean to oversimplify things here, but remember that building a marketing plan around your business consists of a few key concepts—a validated “niche” idea, a strong and effectively written offer/message, a proven strategy for building your own list or distribution, and the ability to execute the plan. So, focus on grabbing insight on those key concepts but don’t get sucked into spending hours and hours analyzing every possible approach to doing these things—pick a technique, confirm it with a coach or expert—then Get To Work!

Tip #3: Get To Work! That’s right, nothing moves you out of being stuck in paralysis quicker than getting moving…just start doing it! You’ll learn more and gain expertise faster than you can by reading more stuff and “thinking about” it. In the words of those killer athletes over at Nike, “Just Do It!”

Analyze yourself for a minute. Are you spending more time studying and contemplating information more than you’re actually doing real work? If so, you’re stuck in Paralysis of Analysis.

Is Your Self-Talk Helping or Hurting You?

Jim CarreyAs an avid runner I place a high value on the intimate conversations I have with myself while logging miles. It’s a great time to think, reflect, ponder, pray and yes, talk to myself about life.

Everyone has their own time and place for self-talk. For some it’s more conscious than for others. But the fact is, we’re constantly feeding our minds with positive or negative thoughts, ideas, hopes, or fears about whatever’s relevant in our life.

It’s ironic that each of us wants wonderful things to happen in our lives but usually spend more time doubting, worrying, and dwelling on exactly what we don’t really want. I don’t know why we lean towards that type of negative self-talk.

Here’s what I do know; if we make a concerted effort to work toward and dwell on what we do want, hope for wonderful things, expect that they will occur, and choose to be happy despite our obstacles, we’ll be much more joyful and we’ll eventually get what we seek. It’s the truth.

Comedian Jim Carrey once explained his own experience with specific, positive self-talk.

He explained, “When I wasn’t doing anything in this town, I’d go up every night, sit on Mulholland Drive, look out at the city, stretch out my arms, and say, ‘Everybody wants to work with me. I’m a really good actor. I have all kinds of great movie offers.’ I’d just repeat these things over and over, literally convincing myself that I had a couple of movies lined up. I’d drive down that hill, ready to take the world on, going, ‘Movie offers are out there for me, I just don’t hear them yet.’ It was like total affirmations, antidotes to the stuff that stems from my family background.”

Lucky for him, he didn’t pay attention to the negativity of his family background and chose to affirm his success instead.

I’d say it worked out pretty well for Jim Carrey.

Why not you, too?

The Best Is Yet To Come

I welcome the future.

For me and millions of others, the past is laced with some hard life lessons; the kind that test us, shape us, and ultimately make us stronger. So, having a rough year isn’t all bad. It’s just uncomfortable. And someday in hindsight, it will all look just right.

Recently I decided to re-visit the classic by Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking. I was surprised at how much I had let my naturally optimistic mindset get away from me amidst my challenges. As I read the pages, I was awakened to the simple truths of the power of our minds. We literally have the power to shape our lives, in every aspect, based on how we think, what we think, and ultimately; how we act.

I’ll share 5 points from Dr. Peale that I noted as important personal reminders. Perhaps they will awaken something within you as well:

  1. Do not build up obstacles in your imagination. Depreciate every so-called obstacle. Minimize them. Difficulties must be studied and efficiently dealt with to be eliminated, but they must be seen for only what they are. They must not be inflated by fear thoughts.
  2. Make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it 10 percent. Do not become egotistical, but develop a wholesome self-respect. Believe in your own God-given gifts.
  3. How we think we feel has a definite effect on how we actually feel physically. If your mind tells you that you are tired, the body mechanism, the nerves, and the muscles accept the fact. By supplying attitudes of faith to the mind it can increase energy.
  4. Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop this picture. Never think of yourself failing; never doubt the reality of the mental image of success. Always picture success no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment.
  5. The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have. You won’t have time to think about yourself and get bogged down in your emotional difficulties.

I challenge you to expect great things for yourself from now on.

The best is yet to come.

The Catalyst for Entrepreneurial Success

Catalyst2There’s an infinite number of great ideas out there. Millions of people have big financial hopes and dreams. There are a lot of people who can talk about their concept or idea with great conviction and enthusiasm—or about how they could improve an entire industry with their unique insight and experience.

But for all of the millions of ideas, concepts, and plans only a small number of them ever materialize.

Consider two of the most vital ingredients of any business endeavor—in fact these ingredients apply to any worthwhile objective that we choose to pursue.

The first is risk and the second is persistence. They’re the catalyst for entrepreneurial success.

When I was a teenager I shaped and glassed my own surfboards. I became very familiar with the process of solidifying fiberglass using a mixture of resin and catalyst. In order to create a bucket full of solution that would cover the entire surfboard, I would add several cups of standard marine resin and just about a tablespoon of catalyst. That tablespoon made all the difference—though just a small amount, it was the key ingredient that caused the entire mixture to eventually solidify into a hard fiberglass finish.

Risk and Persistence are solidifying ingredients, like catalyst, that will help any great plan actually come to life.

The trouble though, is that many people are either paralyzed by the potential costs of taking risks and choose to avoid something potentially great altogether, or after taking a risk lack the patience and tenacity, the Persistence, that’s required to see something to the finish line. In a sense, they throw in the towel prematurely.

To rise above the sea of great ideas that remain just as they are, take risks and be persistent. It’s a proven recipe for success.

It Just Seemed Like a Fun Thing To Do

In a 2010 Business Week article, Threadless: From Clicks to Bricks, the founder and CEO Jake Nickelly was asked why they decided to transition from being a completely online business to a brick-and-mortar retail business as well.

His answer struck me–and not because it’s a sound business strategy, because its not. But because it underscores a valid reason for doing business in the first place. He said, “We really had no good reason to open a store. It just seemed like a fun thing to do.”

That’s something I needed to hear right now.

Business should be something that’s fun to do.

I mean really, as entrepreneurs, why make the sacrifices we make if it isn’t fun?

The Rickshaw That Outsmarts the Competition

RickshawSometime after 8pm or so, there are a bunch of rickshaws for hire in downtown Austin. It’s a perfect way to get from one music venue to another.

All of the rickshaw operators ride bikes and pull their passengers around town. It’s become a very competitive little business out here.

I met one rickshaw operator that found a way to differentiate himself from the sea of competitors.

He was different, grabbed attention, and earned loyalty that beat the competition. In fact, I was so impressed that I added him to my iPhone contacts—he’s there as “Energizer Phil.”

Energizer Phil wears these funky bunny ears and is the only guy in Austin who literally “runs” his rickshaw business the old fashioned way—the way it all started in Asia—by running his passengers from place to place instead of riding a bike. He’s got a ton of energy. This guy truly earns his cash.

(And the funny thing was, he would run right past the guys cruising along on the bikes!)

His outfit, his hustle, and his uniqueness captures the attention of almost everyone on the street as he runs passengers up and down Sixth Street.

When I got out of a concert, I called him back up so he could take me to my car. And I tipped him really well. I doubt any of those regular bike rickshaws get that kind of repeat business and generous tips.

It doesn’t matter how common or competitive your environment is. If you’re willing to be creative, unique, and go out on a ledge, there’s always an interesting way to out-smart your competition.