Category Archives: Work Advice

Learn To Audit Yourself, Just Do You

I’ve been following @GaryVee for awhile now. Great guy. Lot of energy. A great role model in some respects and not in others. A wonderful “virtual mentor”.

I just watched a video of him talking to a group of students at a USC entrepreneur class. He started of by saying that he believes 100%, with no hedge, that you can’t teach someone to be an entrepreneur.

His best piece of advice…

Audit Who You Are

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can be something that you can’t. Be you. Just do you. Bet on your strengths. Don’t worry at all about your weaknesses.

He goes on to talk about how he had a huge advantage because he was born in Belarus and was poor growing up in the U.S. He had it rough and he honestly believes most people are just too soft to compete with him. This is an honest truth we all need to accept.

Nothing more important then starting right now. Yesterday is always the best day to start.

True entrepreneurs work 16 hour days. True entrepreneurs go and get it done. True entrepreneurs execute the idea. True entrepreneurs hire out their weaknesses.

At the end of the day you just need to do you. Know yourself. What are your strengths? Ask yourself that every day. Be brutally honest. What are your strengths? Don’t just think about what they are. Write them down. Then stare at the page and ask yourself again. Ask your friends, family, colleagues what your strengths are. Maybe you are missing some strength cause it is so easy for you to do it, but that same strength is hard and doesn’t come naturally to a lot of other people. Maybe you are blind to it. Maybe you wrote something down that you think is a strength but most people would see it as a weakness.

Keep doing that. Think, Write, Get Feedback, Meditate, Repeat.

Don’t underestimate speed. Speed is a huge competitive advantage. Speed goes along with the idea of starting yesterday. Stay ahead of the game.

All that matters is the attention graph. All platforms will be media companies. Be a thought leader. Not a thought follower. Be on top of everything. Out work everyone. Don’t call yourself an expert. Just be the expert.

Your grandmother is on facebook now. What is next. Look at what companies Facebook is buying… Instagram, Snapchat, stay ahead of the game…

Fastest growth on Instagram is 40-50 year old women taking #selfies. No joke.

Keep asking, what is next, and be there…

Marcus Lemonis The Profit and My Desire to be an Entrepreneur

If you haven’t seen the CNBC show “The Profit” then you absolutely must. Marcus Lemonis is a business genius and he is learning and becoming smarter every single day with every single new deal he makes. The show’s basic premise is that Marcus comes and visits a potential business and determines if he can make a deal with the owners to become and active investor in the company and teach them how to become very profitable.

Since discovering this show I have absolutely fallen in love with it. This guy actually has my dream job. Part of the reason I chose the jobs that I did over the years was to expose myself to multiple different industries. To learn how they work, and to satisfy my deep curiosity for how a variety of businesses operate and become successful.

My dad is a sales guy through and through. He left the coal mines to strike out on his own because he just couldn’t take being in the mines anymore. He wanted to determine his destiny and knew the sales path was it. As long as he believed in the product he knew he could sale it. Recently one of my dad’s friends mentioned that my dad could sell ice to an eskimo. It is kind of a compliment to someone’s sales ability to say that, but I know my dad could never really sell anything he didn’t believe in and people respect him for it and trust him deeply.

Since I was a teenager I have been influenced by my dad immensely and have sought out other experienced business men and women that I could learn from. If I wasn’t making connections with business owners I was reading about them. I’ve read business classics such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason to more modern books such as The Millionaire Next Door, and hundreds if not thousands of others. For all intensive purposes I am one of the world’s experts on business without having ever actually started my own business. I say that not to puff myself up with pride, but to actually berate myself for waiting forever to start my own business to put all I know to the test.

The truth of the matter is that some people are just born to lead. They have to do their own thing. They must be in charge and they must determine their destiny. And most importantly, they must be in control.

That is one of the constant themes in the show. These business owners are full of pride, both to their benefit and to their detriment, the classic double edged sword. Marcus himself is a so called “Type A” personality. Someone who needs to be in charge, and wants it done his way. As I watch the show I see it over and over again. Will the prideful business owner let their pride fall down and allow Marcus to call the shots, or will they let their pride keep them from turning their business into something really great?

Which brings up one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned in the business world. It is repeated in all the business literature over and over and yet I really don’t believe people really get it. The ability to lead is also the ability to follow. To learn to lead one must first learn how to follow. Over and over again it is repeated and falls on mostly deaf ears.

Marcus focuses on three things: people, process, and product. Out of the three, people is far and above the most important thing. Yet you can have great people and still get the product and process wrong. That is the opportunity Marcus looks for. The chance to work with great people and improve their product and process by investing his money into the business to change it for the better.

I think we can all recognize that people is the most important thing. Think about your years as an employee or even a business owner. Some of us have left great jobs that had horrible bosses. And some of us have stayed in horrible jobs because we worked for great people. Business owners number one complaint is that they can never find good people to work for them. And as my dad always said, “All business is people business”.

So where do we go from here? I am still thinking about why I haven’t started my own business. My excuse is that I haven’t found a good idea, but I have tons of ideas. Perhaps my excuse is that no idea is good enough. Or that I might be happier just being an employee. It has worked this long. Why not just keep progressing in my career, and keep jumping to different industries when I get bored?

Maybe my biggest fear is that I would get stuck in something I would come to hate. However, I do think that is just another excuse. I am trying to cross a bridge I haven’t even come to yet.

At the end of the day, I pretty much have no choice but to do it. I have spent the better part of my life, starting as a teenager, studying what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I am more prepared than practically any other business owner that starts a business. Another lesson is that a leader has a strong proclivity for action even without a lot of information to go on. I suffer from the classic “analysis paralysis” disease.

The time has never been more ripe then now. I just need to take the leap. Starting a business will certainly be the biggest personal development course I could ever take in my life. It will certainly be eye opening and help show me what I am really made of. It is my greatest challenge yet, and there really is nothing to it but to do it.

Become Better At Sales By Making Powerful Connections

This isn’t an article about networking with powerful people…

This is an article about connecting with people… powerfully… on the human level…

It’s an article called How To Make Powerful Connections With People written by me on my other personal development blog called Insight Writer.

In it I talk about how I have learned how to improve my sales over the years by learning how to connect with people in a number of different ways.

The real secret, if there is one to learn, is by learning what body language is all about…

All the best intentions in the world sometimes are trumped by bad body language. Don’t let this happen to you. Go read my article, and start thinking about how you can start communicating better by becoming fluent in body language…

The World Doesn’t Need More Entrepreneurs?

I just read this article on Slate by Esther Dyson called Not Everyone Can Be Bill Gates

It is sub-titled “The world doesn’t need more entrepreneurs. It needs more people for entrepreneurs to hire.”

This didn’t sit well with me. Kind of like how a 3 day old bean burrito doesn’t sit well with me.

After I read the article I realized where she was trying to go with this, but I think she is completely oblivious to anything that could be called a “start-up” outside the tech industry.

Her argument is that why start a new business when you will have trouble getting qualified people to help you run it? Good point Esther… In fact, why should we start a business at all?

Maybe to add some value back to society?

Maybe to hire people who wouldn’t otherwise get hired elsewhere?

Maybe because we have a product or service that doesn’t require a “high tech” education or experience?

Maybe because the business model makes sense, and won’t require a lot of start up capital to get cash flow positive?

Or maybe people are simply tired of working for big corporations who count them as a number and lay them off at will?

Maybe because they want to work for a smaller yet more sustainable business that is going to see them as a valuable person where they won’t get laid off?

Come on Esther, I think I could do this all day!

Now I will be the first one to tell you that small businesses have a lot of problems that larger businesses or even start-ups don’t have. In a word, capital. But I have news for you, not every entrepreneur wants to start a “high tech” company.

A recent NY Times article reported that “Once a Dynamo, The Tech Sector Is Slow to Hire”

If you want employees then check out where people are most hired…

Here is the BLS listing of the jobs that employ the most people… Occupational Employment Statistics

Now if I wanted to start a business where I was guaranteed to find the labor I needed it would potentially be in one of these categories…

1. A retail store
2. A restaurant
3. A clinic
4. A janitorial service
5. A bookkeeping or accounting service
6. A tutoring service
7. A truck driving company

Now of course all these businesses will have problems of their own, but please don’t say the world doesn’t need more entrepreneurs. Don’t assume a smaller local or regional company can’t service my needs better then a worldwide conglomerate. And please don’t assume your one little sector of the economy, no matter how hot it is, is the only place that start-ups are happening.

So yes, if you are an entrepreneur please go start your business! The world does need you!

Self Knowledge Enables Financial Wealth

What do most successful business owners have in common?

Or just successful people in general for that matter?

They have in common an understanding of what it is that they want, and the ability to get it.

This idea actually comes from the Financial Philosopher in his post entitled Accidental Influence.

If you want a blog that always keeps you thinking about financial philosophies then that is the blog to read.

Back to self-knowledge…

This is something that takes a long time to establish. You have to become as objective of your life as possible and look at the whole picture.

Often we are caught up in the mundane and common tasks of our daily lives. We have no ability to be objective. We have no time to look at the big picture.

Ability comes from practicing over time, and time comes from making a pursuit of self-knowledge a priority.

If getting to know yourself is not a priority. If all you are after is financial gain. Then you might make it. You might pull off a quick buck here or there.

However, you will just as quickly lose it. It takes a lot of integrity to run a business. And integrity comes from self-knowledge.

Who are you? What are you doing? Where are you going? What are your plans, dreams, goals, etc.? What are your priorities?

Self knowledge springs from these questions like a seed planted in the ground. If it is watered and well maintained it will produce fruit. That fruit being true wealth in the form of good relationships, good habits, and wisdom gained through experience. Financial wealth will come out of the true wealth you are producing as a result.

If you get your foundation right, a foundation built on self knowledge, all other things will follow…

Warren Buffett – Speech at University of Florida

Three most important things needed for success…

1. Integrity
2. Intelligence
3. Energy

Of the three, the most important is Integrity, because you really don’t want to do business with someone who is intelligent, energetic, but lacking integrity.

87 minute video: Warren Buffett

Warren really just spews wisdom… (Hope you don’t mind the word picture) 😉

Some good points…

1. More money doesn’t do much. Warren lives much like we live even though he is much richer.
2. Take a job that you would take even if you were independently wealthy.
3. Warren likes businesses he can understand… which narrows it down about 90%
4. If you are right about WHAT, then you don’t have to focus too much on the WHEN.

How To Retire Early

A lot of people are curious about this topic. A lot of people wish they could do it. Only a few are.

Retiring Early is deceptively easy, but it takes a lot of what I would call personal development. You have to have the self-discipline necessary. You have to do the emotional work that goes along with it….

How to Retire Early

  1. Work to Make Your Money – This is the only way to do it unless you end up inheriting or winning a ton of money. You have to work to make money. And it actually doesn’t matter how much you make. People have retired early with high and low incomes. It just takes a good strategy to help you retire early.
  2. Be Efficient with Your Money – And by efficient I mean you need to live, or learn to live, frugally. This means that you live below your means. You must make the most of what you have so you won’t need any more than is necessary and you won’t waste your time or money.
  3. Save Your Money – If you spend everything you earn you won’t ever be able to retire. It seems like most people are able to eventually save 10% of there money if they work at it. Many are able to save more. Some are able to save substantially more. Upwards of 70-80%. The more you save the earlier you can retire.
  4. Spend Your Money – Get yourself to the point where you buy only necessary things with the most value. With value equaling a good return for your hard earned money. Buy the least expensive housing, transportation, and food that will meet your needs. Spend your money on educating yourself about how to retire early and live the lifestyle you desire. Refuse to spend money on things that will not improve your life.
  5. Invest Your Money – Money that isn’t doing anything is just paper. Once you have saved and invested enough money (capital) to have the earnings (returns) support your lifestyle, you have successfully retired. This is the concept of a 401k, pension, etc. You no longer work for money, you have Your Money work for you!

Noticed how I capitalized “Your Money”? I do this to emphasize the fact that you are the only one who will get yourself to early retirement. You have the ability to do it. The more you learn, the more able you will be to retire early.

Good luck! Please comment with your success stories below!

Resources: Stories & Learning Opportunities

  1. Joe Dominguez retires at 31
  2. Paul & Vicki Terhorst retire at 35 to become Perpetual Travelers
  3. Billy & Akaisha Kaderli Retire at 38 to also become Perpetual World Travelers
  4. Jacob Fisker Retires at 32 and starts his new work educating people how to retire early themselves.

How Do You Know When To Cut Your Losses?

How do you know when to cut your losses?

When your exit strategy says so…

Oh, you didn’t make an exit strategy when you got into it?

Better start making an exit strategy for all plans and projects in the future…

How do you make an exit strategy?

Decide what you are willing to lose ahead of time and put it in writing…

Is a 10% loss worth getting out, how about a 20% loss?

Learn how to count your intangibles too such as lost sleep, stress, and anything else that damages your health or well-being, or even intangibles such as your reputation.

It is wise to make the decision ahead of time, of when you will cut your losses. Because if you try to decide in the moment, your emotions will often get the best of you.

Don’t let a 100% loss fill you with regret…

Decide beforehand when you will cut your losses, make an exit strategy, and start getting some nice relaxing sleep at night.

Then execute your exit strategy with the confidence that you are making the right decision.

How To Promote Teamwork

This subject is something that I have dedicated a lot of my life to learning. How to function better in a team environment. How to make the acronym T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) true.

I had a long discussion with the owner of our company today about why people can’t seem to work well in a team, and why everyone in our company can’t see our teammates as part of the team.

We had a discussion this morning and had to go on to do other things, but it left me thinking long and hard about it.

After an hour or two I texted him a 3 step process that I have found to work for me. There is obviously more to effective teamwork then just this, but I think it’s a great starting point for anyone…

Steps to Promote Teamwork

  1. Kill Them With Kindness – This phrase may be a bit overused (mostly because we don’t know how to do this), but it is true. Most of what keeps people from working together are poor attitudes and personality problems. If you can learn to be kind to people, in other words, professional with people, then you will go a long way in promoting good teamwork with that person.
  2. Never Compromise Your Integrity – Part of being a teammate is having a healthy respect for both your integrity and your co-workers. If you compromise your integrity, what you believe is right, then you will start to resent other people for what they believe. The key here is to get it all out on the table so you can work with it. Don’t ignore the problem. Let your co-worker know that you need to figure out a solution to the problem. And one of the hardest parts with this is to get anyone to recognize that their is a problem in the first place. Word of advice… If anyone has a problem, it’s everyone’s problem. Help them solve it by working together on it.
  3. Keep reminding people of why we are here – No matter how good you are or how good you think you are, you still need to be reminded about the important things. And probably the most important thing you need to remember is why you are working as a team in the first place. The owner of my company made a good point today. You can either choose to work with people or leave the company. We are all in it together. I tried to compromise by saying that we could split people up who don’t get along with each other. My owner’s response was that we want to treat people like adults, and help them learn and grow. It does no good for them or the company to simply separate them. And my response to him, after the light bulb on my head turned on, was that growth does happen in adversity. We have to face our problems head on, and strive to solve them. In the process we really will learn and go, and be able to handle similar situations much better in the future.

Think hard about these three things the next time you want to promote more teamwork in your organization. These ideas, if implemented correctly, will go a long way toward making your team into the well-oiled machine they deserve to be.

Staying Healthy is a Great Return on Investment

The question you always have to ask yourself when you are pursuing anything is…

What good is it if I don’t have my health?

If something is getting in the way of you staying healthy, whether its working long hours, bad eating habits, lack of exercise, or a combination of things, you have to seriously question it.

Stress really does kill us, and good health is the foundation everything else can be built on.

Good health gives us more energy, helps us be more productive, and allows us to enjoy people more. All things that we want more out of life, and that make us happy.

I wrote an article at Insight Writer that was a big hit called 11 Little Steps to Better Health.

It is a nice short enjoyable read with a bunch of links to additional resources, and implementing just one of those ideas can have a large effect on improving your health.

So be sure to factor in health when you are making any business or life decision…

It really is a great return on your investment!