What I Learned From a Non-Entrepreneur

Over the course of our careers, we entrepreneurs spend a lot of time studying other successful entrepreneurs. We try and emulate their good qualities and avoid those traits that are less flattering. This is a smart strategy and can serve us well. However, there is also much we can learn from non-entrepreneurs as well. While this may sound somewhat paradoxical, stick with me here. There is much wisdom that can be gained in our entrepreneurial world by modeling non-entrepreneurs.

My father was a college professor – a scientist who loved research and teaching. As I think back over the course of my short life with him (he died when I was 34), I realize how much I learned from him that has helped me in my entrepreneurial endeavors. My sister and I were both adopted (and we came from different biological parents), so I was not the recipient of any of Dad’s genetics and who knows what was lurking in my biological gene pool. So, I was destined to “learned behaviors” at my father’s knee.

Dad was the most patient person I’ve ever known. As a young boy, I asked him a million questions, and never once did he ever seem exasperated about my constant grilling. Instead, he would smile and remain patient as he explained things for the 40th time. For several years, he performed extensive cancer research, injecting mice with tumor materials and then experimenting with different dosages of a formula that was designed to shrink the tumors. He even drafted my mom into returning to the lab after dinner to help him with this project. He was incredibly dedicated to iteration after iteration, always staying positive and all the while, juggling his other research and teaching assignments. My sense of urgency is extremely high. I certainly don’t have Dad’s level of patience. But by watching him, I’ve learned to be more patient over the long term – it’s patience over the short-term stuff that needs more work on my part.

Unflappable is another word for calm, and my dad was its walking definition. I’ll never forget his best demonstration of his unflappability. Way back in the day, people in my hometown would sometimes burn the grass in their yards in the springtime. The theory was that it helped kill the weeds and promoted a healthier stand of grass in a few weeks. On this particular day, the plan was to create a controlled burn to accomplish this objective. Dad asked Mom to wait for him to change his clothes and they would do this together. Unfortunately, Mom didn’t have Dad’s patience and decided to start the fire without him. A sudden gust of wind caught the flame and a cedar tree on the corner of the house ignited. If you’ve never seen a cedar tree catch fire, it’s a sight to behold. The Biblical image of the burning bush comes to mind. Mom was frantic and raced into the house looking for a fire extinguisher. She passed my dad in the basement but was babbling incoherently, and so he had no idea what was happening. Meanwhile, the next-door neighbor put out the fire with a garden hose; a fire truck showed up; a crowd had gathered, and Dad finally ambled out oblivious to what was happening. I’ll never forget how he reacted at that point. Rather than read my mother the riot act, he grinned and was amused at the commotion that had ensued. Now, some 58 years later, I always remember how I never saw my dad as anything but calm. And I try and mirror his demeanor whenever possible.

Dad was an honest man. Every fiber of his being was honest. We were traveling as a family on a vacation and stopped for fuel. It was a full-service gas station – there was no such thing as self-serve gas in the 1950s and early 1960s. After the gas was pumped, there was the normal scramble of getting kids back in the car from a restroom break; taking the dog to relieve itself and making certain the trailer was still hitched properly. A few miles down the road Dad asked my mom, “Did you pay for the gas?” It was quickly apparent that the we had driven off without paying at which point Dad turned the car around and drove back to the service station and made payment. Interestingly, the station attendant hadn’t even realized that we had left without paying. No one would have ever known that we hadn’t paid for the gas, but Dad’s integrity wouldn’t let this get in the way of doing the right thing.

My father – the non-entrepreneur – modeled many other traits that have been critical to me finding my way as an entrepreneur. His perseverance, his problem-solving abilities, his work ethic, his sense of humor and his passion were all on full display throughout the 72 years of his life. I am blessed to have been loved by him and learned valuable and enduring life lessons from him. Which non-entrepreneur in your life has made a similar difference for you?

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Podcast 132 – How to Be a Great Entrepreneur. 

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Thinking Big by Starting Small

I am a huge proponent of thinking big. I believe that entrepreneurs should embrace the practice of BHAG – that is, setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals. When I mentor other entrepreneurs, I frequently challenge them to think much bigger than they are comfortable. When we are grinding away each day it’s easy to get tunnel vision. It’s easy to become mired in the little things that consume much of our time. As a result, we may forget how big our vision is supposed to be. But here’s a little secret. We can support the notion of thinking big by actually starting small.

I started my real estate career fresh out of college as an apartment manager in 1975. After several months, I had figured out how to operate my 234-unit property in a reasonably effective manner. It wasn’t long before I wanted a greater challenge, and I convinced the owner of the company to allow me to prospect for new property management assignments. I did the research on the market and identified several properties that I thought might be candidates for our services. Then I started knocking on doors. Shortly thereafter I was successful in signing an agreement with a partnership that owned an 18-unit apartment building. I was ecstatic! If I recall correctly, the management fee was a paltry $150 per month – I’m sure we lost money on this property – but I worked tirelessly to prove to the partners that they had made a good decision. They apparently thought so because they expressed their satisfaction to other property owners, and before long we landed a 39-unit building. This was followed by 64-units, 66-units and 120-units. Within a few years we were the dominant management company in that particular market.

Flip the calendar forward a few decades and our development business had been successful. We saw a void in the market for the re-purposing of historic structures into affordable housing in small Midwestern communities. The approach involved utilizing several complicated funding structures that had rarely been utilized. I was certain that the concept would work and had big plans for its implementation. However, to manage risk and to “de-bug” the program, we decided to start small. We acquired four small historic buildings – a former grocery store on the courthouse square of a small town; a couple of hotels built in the late 1800s in two more small towns, and an historic mercantile building in the downtown of a slightly larger town. When fully developed, we had buildings of nine, ten and 18-units – quite small by development standards. Today we are successfully delivering affordable housing that is much larger including properties of 93-units, 139-units and 184-units.

At one point in the early 2000s, we were fortunate enough to be asked to step into a number of smaller affordable housing partnerships as the replacement general partner. At the time the upside wasn’t obvious. We were paid a small upfront fee to take on this role, but the property management fees weren’t significant and the opportunity to monetize these assets (as in sell them) was many years away. My partner wondered several times why we were “messing around” with such small assets.

Here’s what I’ve learned. By taking small steps in the beginning, we have been able to realize big dreams. Over the course of my career, I’ve been involved with procuring the management of nearly 70,000 multi-family units. Our organization has developed affordable housing at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Those small replacement general partner positions are now resulting in substantial sale proceeds some 15 years later and more. Starting small in all cases helped us build credibility. It helped us build relationships. It allowed us to experiment in a controlled and low-risk fashion. There’s no question it helped us learn what we needed to be successful.

We entrepreneurs are impatient. We covet hockey stick growth. I can tell you that my sense of urgency is off the charts (a fact that my colleagues will attest to emphatically). And yet, had we swung for the fences and tried to hit home runs every time, I’m convinced that our success would not be at the level it is today. Climbing the mountain was hard and it would have been a lot easier for us to simply take a helicopter to drop us at the top. Except that no helicopter can fly high enough to the peaks we want to reach.

Our thinking must be in terms of BHAG. However, we are smart if we use small steps as the building blocks to realizing our big vision.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 131 – An Entrepreneur’s Primer.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Farewell to an Iconic Entrepreneur

On January 3, 2019, one of the legendary icons of entrepreneurship stepped on a rainbow. Herb Kelleher died at age 87 after living a storied life. Kelleher famously co-founded Southwest Airlines in the late 1960s. He was practicing law in San Antonio when a client brought him an idea to launch a new airline in 1967. Competing airlines did everything they could to prevent the new airline, originally incorporated as Air Southwest Company, from getting off the ground. Lawsuits were the only thing flying for several years, and at one point the board told Kelleher that the venture needed to be shut down. Kelleher offered to fight the lawsuits and pay the court costs out of his own pocket at which point the board agreed to stay in business. It took four years and victories at both the Texas and the U.S. Supreme Courts – twice – before Southwest Airlines flew for the first time on June 18, 1971. His resilience and tenaciousness are credited for enabling Southwest to persevere and become the major airline that it is today.

Kelleher was general counsel and served on the board of directors, becoming chairman in 1978. In 1981 he became the full-time CEO and built the airline into a powerhouse as a result of his vision. At the time, the airline industry was highly regulated and when an airline started losing money, it would petition the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to allow for a fare increase. As a result, it became exceedingly expensive for the public to fly – something that Kelleher saw as the opportunity of a lifetime. Initially Southwest was an intrastate carrier flying within Texas, making flying between Dallas, San Antonio and Houston affordable through ultra-low fares. Over the years the airline started flying outside the state of Texas but was hamstrung by the Wright Amendment – legislation designed to help the legacy carriers and hurt Southwest. The law required that Southwest could not fly from another state directly into Dallas’ Love Field without first stopping in an immediately adjacent state including Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico. I can remember flying from Kansas City to Dallas and having to stop in Oklahoma City to change planes because of this requirement. Eventually the Wright Amendment was defeated in Congress and Southwest was able to operate like any other airline in the country.

Kelleher was a marketing genius and employed numerous outrageous stunts that endeared Southwest to its employees and to the public. He never took himself too seriously and is well known for his love of Wild Turkey bourbon and a daily dose of five packs of Marlboro cigarettes. When it came to compensation, Kelleher chose to take less in cash salary and more stock options. This approach helped considerably with the Southwest labor force (where the CEO was not receiving an exorbitant level of pay) and made him a billionaire two-and-a-half times over. He claims to have been a “flamboyant marketer but was fiscally conservative.” His shrewd financial prowess put Southwest on a path to profitability that is unmatched by any other airline – and few public companies in any industry. Since 1973, the company has been profitable every single year.

For decades, the culture at Southwest Airlines has been studied under a microscope by business schools and business leaders. It’s safe to say that Kelleher defined and sustained that culture for the 20 years he was the CEO and even after he retired in 2001 (he remained chairman of the board until 2008). He spent an enormous amount of time talking to employees and gaining understanding for what was working and what needed to be fixed. He loaded baggage onto planes every Thanksgiving Day; met technicians at 2:00 AM in a maintenance hangar; visited operators at reservation centers and spent time as a gate agent. According to Terry Maxon, in a 2015 article for the Dallas News, Kelleher dressed up like Elvis Presley, a woman, the Easter bunny, a leprechaun and a flight attendant to promote Southwest. Maxon went on to explain the corporate culture was that of a 1) scrappy underdog to the public; 2) fierce warrior to its competitors, and 3) warm, supportive and protective atmosphere for the employees.

Herb Kelleher was a larger-than-life model for us as entrepreneurs to emulate. He had all the requisite entrepreneurial traits – vision, tenacity, resilience, marketing skills, financial acumen, a cultural leader and a genuine love for people. Above all he had a passion for life. They broke the mold when Herb Kelleher left this planet. R.I.P.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link –

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

The Fearful Entrepreneur

What are you afraid of? I don’t mind confessing that I have issues with claustrophobia. This manifests when I get inside an MRI machine. Even an open CT scanner gives me the heebie jeebies. My heart pounds in my chest and my blood pressure goes through the roof. I don’t know what happened in the past for me to develop this fear, but it’s a cross I bear. I’ll never forget the time I heard about a poor soul who was exploring a cave and got stuck deep inside – upside down – and no matter how hard they tried, rescuers could not get him out. Within days of that story, I found myself in an MRI machine for 45 minutes. It took every ounce of my fortitude not to completely freak out.

I don’t know of a single entrepreneur who doesn’t experience a fear of something. There is the fear of public speaking, fear of heights, fear of flying, fear of being in social settings, fear of spiders (and snakes), fear of death and a wide assortment of other phobias that we may experience at a personal level. And then there’s what I consider to be “entrepreneurial fears.” Let’s examine a few of them and their antidotes.

  1. Competition“I’m afraid that the competition will overtake my company. I’m also fearful that someone is going to steal my business concept and crush us.” There’s a lot to unpack here. The forward-thinking entrepreneur will see competition as a healthy factor in his or her business life. If we have the right mindset, we can use competition to make us better. How? We do this by understanding exactly what our customers need and want and tool our product or service accordingly. We know that the competition is probably studying the customer in similar fashion – we just have to do it better!
  2. Ideas “My ideas are no good. I’m afraid that I’m just not creative enough to win in this business.” No one knows our ideas better that do we. And it’s not so much about having fresh new ideas as it is our ability to iterate on those we already have – or that someone else has. Look at Facebook for example. Many students of the Facebook phenomenon point out that the company has rarely had a new idea. They simply steal ideas from other developers or companies and execute them better.
  3. Failure “I’m afraid to fail and I’m afraid of what others will think of me if I fail.” This is one of the most common entrepreneurial fears that I’ve heard during my career. Unfortunately, this fear reflects a misunderstanding about what failure is. Too many entrepreneurs confuse “failure” with “defeat.” Failure is simply an unfinished experiment in the laboratory of life. It’s part of a process that we undertake to achieve success. Success is built on failure. Without some failure along the way, how do we really know that we have succeeded in optimal fashion?
  4. Money “I’m afraid that my money is going to run out before I succeed.” There are entrepreneurial stories abound where the founder was down to a triple digit bank balance and somehow pulled a rabbit out of a hat and turned things around. I also know that there are many more stories of businesses that folded when the cash spigot turned off. In the entrepreneurial world we learn how to improvise. We learn how to stretch a buck. We barter and trade. Better yet, we always have a Plan B in our hip pocket . . . just in case. Having a little bit of the “cash-strapped” fear is actually a healthy thing as long as we use it in a positive way to maintain focus on scaling our enterprise.
  5. Talent “I’m afraid a competitor is going to steal my best people; or my best people are going to walk across the street and start their own company.” Here’s the thing. If we provide the best value for our team, they’ll stick around which is the same philosophy we adopt with our customers. Sure, employees want to be fairly compensated, but loyalty goes beyond pay and benefits. Developing a dynamic culture goes a long way toward talent retention. So does making people feel that they and the contribution they make are genuinely valued. In the companies with which I’m involved, we don’t lock up our team members with long-term contracts or non-compete agreements. Instead, it’s incumbent upon us as leaders to show our team every single day how they are in the right place with our firm.

Being afraid can either be paralyzing or motivating. Smart entrepreneurs overcome fear to propel themselves to great success.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 129 – The NPS and You.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

The Ghost of Miss Johnston

We entrepreneurs are a talkative bunch. We love to explain our ideas to anyone who will listen, and we’ll lobby the guy sitting next to us on a plane until he finally agrees with whatever position we’ve taken on our subject du jour. Our penchant as an interlocutor is an integral part of our persona. Care must be taken so as not to dilute the effects of our prose with careless or incorrect jargon, as well as gratuitous statements. All that said, I’m not suggesting that we speak in the stilted tones of a 19th century aristocrat, but merely that we appear to have paid attention (somewhat) in English class during our formative years. Here is my list of possibilities for consideration.

  1. I’ve heard some very bright and educated people use the terms “quite honestly” or “quite frankly.” For example, “Quite honestly, I believe that we are on the right track with that decision.” The implication here is that the speaker is being honest at this moment because he says he is. Does this mean that if he does not add this qualifier to everything he says, that he’s not being honest? Interchange the term “frankly” for “honestly” and the same question can be pondered.
  2. Another cringeworthy moment comes when we hear the following statement, “Her and I went to the meeting.” Or how about, “Me and him are going to meet.” I’ll never forget the steely glare from my seventh grade English teacher, Miss Mary Johnston, when we got this wrong. She made it easy to remember by reminding us to individualize the statement; “She went to the meeting, not her went to the meeting. I went to the meeting, not me went to the meeting. Thus, she and I went to the meeting.”
  3. The next was a favorite of my mother-in-law – or should I say it caused her to go ballistic whenever she heard the word used incorrectly. “Where are you going to or “Where is the cake knife at?” I think she emphasized this so much while she was alive that I became deathly afraid that she might stab me with that cake knife if she ever heard me use the prepositions “to” and “at” to finish a sentence.
  4. Here’s one that I hear surprisingly often. A “picture” is not a “pitcher.” I’m not sure how there’s confusion surrounding the fact that a pitcher is someone who throws a baseball or is perhaps a container from which liquid is poured, and a picture is a photograph or a painting.
  5. I’ve found as I’ve become older that I tend to search more for certain words as I’m speaking. I’m not quite ready to admit that age may be a factor here. Instead, I’d like to chalk it up to the fact that I have way too many thoughts swimming around in my head. Nevertheless, while stumbling around looking for a certain word, I have fallen victim at times to the overuse of the terms “like” and “you know.” I swore I would never succumb to sounding like a Valley Girl, but alas, I know there are times when I revert to Valspeak. Ugghhh! It’s maddening and I’m so glad that Miss Johnston isn’t alive to witness my shame.
  6. Now we move on to a dreaded phrase that is death to entrepreneurs. This isn’t an incorrect usage of speech. Instead it’s an incorrect usage of entrepreneurial principles. The phrase, “We’ve always done it that way.” Ralph has observed that a manufacturing process in his plant involves multiple steps and could be streamlined. When he asks the plant manager why so many steps are involved the answer is, “We’ve always done it that way.” Ralph’s head is about to explode. The obvious answer is, “Hmm, maybe we need to take another look at that process. I don’t think anyone ever thought to do so.”
  7. Finally, we must be mindful of the way we use acronyms and industry-specific jargon. When I speak at industry conferences, I often lead panel discussions. I know there are newbies in the audience and I stop panelists that shortcut their speech with the heavy use of acronyms. I ask them to explain the terms they are using for the sake of clarity. It’s important that we know who is listening to us and whether they are a civilian or “one of us.”

Paying attention to what we say when we communicate will help us be more precise in conveying our ideas and will promote a clear understanding of what we mean. It will also keep us from being haunted by the ghosts of Miss Johnston and her brethren (and my mother-in-law).

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 128 – Cheat to Compete.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Coin-Operated Salespeople

Jeff sells office equipment. He eats, sleeps and breathes office equipment. His product line is significant – copy machines, postage meters, calculators, file cabinets, laser printers, desks, chairs – you name it, he sells it. Jeff has taken every sales training course known to mankind. He has read every book on selling techniques and attended a gazillion seminars. His lexicon includes words and phrases such as targets, sales funnel, objections, buying signals, gatekeeper, closed-end questions, open-end questions, deal flow, decision maker – you get the picture. And every day Jeff puts into practice what he has learned. But is he successful at what he does? Sure, he makes a decent living but while reaching for the stars, he’s lucky to make it to the McDonald’s on the last exit out of town. While not exactly a Willy Loman, Jeff can be classified as a coin-operated salesperson.

The world is full of coin-operated salespeople. They all want to be superstars and almost every single one of them will never be. They hew to the traditional basics and fundamentals of sales. The Jeffs of the world will absolutely try and close the deal seven times because that’s what the experts say must be done. They will sweat their quotas and worry that the last deal they did will be the last deal they’ll ever do. Their ultimate goal is to ring the cash register. Move that product in every increasing numbers. Numbers, numbers, numbers! What a shame. It doesn’t have to be this way. Jeff and his ilk could take a much easier road – one that would be far more productive for them and their customers.

First and foremost, real “sales” isn’t about selling. It’s about helping people buy. What’s the distinction you ask? It begins with the real reason for a sales encounter. If that reason is to put money in my pocket as a salesperson, then the motivation is all wrong out of the gate. Instead, we might want to see the sales encounter as an opportunity to help someone else. To do this we need to build a genuine relationship with the customer. We need to understand what the customer needs. Far too many sales people are unwilling to invest the time and effort that is required to really understand their customers. If they can’t get a sale quickly, they are ready to drop the customer instantly and move on to the next one. After all, they rationalize this behavior because they have a family to feed.

We can hone our entrepreneurial approach to avoid being the coin-operated salesperson. As entrepreneurs, we’re always selling. But if we adopt the attitude that we’re going to help people buy, our mindset will be so different that we’ll avoid the coin-operated traps. For starters, we are customer-centric instead of product-centric. This means that we will do whatever it takes to make sure that we are being of service to our customers. We aren’t going to try and foist our products or services on them if they aren’t interested in buying from us. And yet we’ll continue to work to build a relationship with them over time – even if they aren’t buying today. Relationships are kings of the castle.

Building lasting relationships requires a lot more than what we learn from standard sales training. It taps into our intuition and forces us to “read” people in such a way as to understand them and the complexities of their lives. Building true relationships avoids manipulation. It avoids quid pro quo. We’ll do things for our customers because we are here to serve the relationship – regardless of whether they buy from us. And as I’ve said many times, this is not a Pollyanna-ish concept. I’ve lived my life this way and have countless examples of relationships that I’ve served that never bought anything from me. But great good has come into my life as result of these relationships whether from the referral of other customers, new team members or opportunities of which I would never have been aware. I know that it’s hard not to be a coin-operated salesperson when there’s a mortgage to pay, the kids need braces and the car is on its last legs. But that’s even more reason to dump the “paint-by-numbers” approach and focus on relationship-building and being customer-centric.

We will have much more success when we help people buy what they need than when we try to sell to them. This requires the long-term process of building and serving relationships. But the payday in the end is far greater than the coin-operated method of selling.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 127 – Chips and Shoulders

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

Stacking the Deck

We entrepreneurs are winners at heart. Every day is like the Super Bowl or the World Series for us. It kills us when we lose on a last second shot. We train like we’re going into battle. We sweat and bleed and play through the hurt if there’s a chance to score a touchdown. We endure winning streaks that we are convinced will never end and losing streaks that create the lowest of lows. Whenever possible we want the deck to be stacked in our favor. Here are some ideas for doing exactly that.

  1. Admit mistakes. I’ve always said that mistakes are simply unfinished experiments in the laboratory of life. But this can be a trap for entrepreneurs. Why? Because false pride and arrogance can sometimes prevent us from quickly admitting our mistakes. We simply refuse to be wrong. And when it’s painfully obvious to others, we lose our credibility. The moral of the story is this. We admit our mistakes immediately, learn whatever there is to learn and move on. Doing so also garners more respect from our team when they see us take on this mantle of vulnerability.
  2. Always do the right thing. We always do the right thing – even when it’s to our disadvantage. This is all about integrity which is doing the right thing when no one is looking or will ever notice. This is all about looking in the mirror at the end of each day and knowing that we don’t have any regrets about how we treated other people.
  3. Show appreciation for others. Here’s another trap for us entrepreneurs to avoid. There are times when we can tend to believe that we are all important and single-handedly carry the day. In the process we may be seen by others as being arrogant. Very rarely is there a situation where the Lone Ranger-effect is a reality. Instead, our success is almost always the result of a team effort. As such, it is incumbent upon us to express gratitude and appreciation for the many things that others have done to contribute to our success.
  4. Be humble. I’ve always said that the bigger we become in terms of success and personal profile, the more humble we should be. While showing appreciation for others is part of this there is much more to it. We do our best to shine the spotlight on others. We are as gracious as we can possibly be. Rather than crashing around with our Type A personalities, we try and walk as softly as we can – almost to the point that others aren’t even aware we are there. We have enough self-confidence and self-awareness to know that we don’t have to be the center-of-attention to be highly successful.
  5. Always have a positive mindset. I have never encountered a situation where negativity produced a viable solution for anything. Positivity is contagious and is ours to model. When our team members see us remaining truly positive in the face of great adversity, they may be more inclined to do the same. Positive energy propels – negative energy repels. Who among us want to be around a negative person? When we can adopt the belief that what seems like failure in the moment is actually an opportunity for something bigger and better, we are well down the road to continued success.
  6. Persevere. The entrepreneurial game is a tough one. We get knocked down a lot. There are plenty of times that nothing seems to be going our way. But we always have a choice. We can throw in the towel or we can live by Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in to convictions of honor and good sense.” Endurance becomes our ability to outlast every challenge that comes our way.
  7. Laugh and have fun. We don’t always have to be so serious . . . and we don’t have to take ourselves seriously either. Entrepreneurship is not a life sentence to drudgery and misery. We should savor every breath we take as we walk this incredible planet. Laugh, laugh and laugh some more. And when we can laugh at ourselves that’s even better. The more our entrepreneurial journey can be fun, the more likely we are to be living our passion.

When put it altogether – admitting mistakes, integrity, appreciation, gratitude, humility, positivity, perseverance and laughter – we are clearly stacking the deck in our favor. This “extra edge” then sets us up for the success that is ours to claim.

You can also listen to a weekly audio podcast of my blog. What you hear will be different than what you read in this blog. Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also click on this link – Click here to listen to Audio Episode 126 – Easy Lifting.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.