The Smarty Pants Entrepreneur

Think about the most brilliant people you know. Do they own or run a company, or do they work for someone else? Chances are that they fall into both categories. For many years I have been trying to hire people who are smarter than am I. Fortunately I have succeeded several times and it certainly pays big dividends.

Across the business landscape you will find many employers who simply will not hire scary-smart people. You will hear a wide range of excuses – they are too high maintenance, they will stick around for a short period of time and then they will leave, and others in the organization will resent them. For the most part this is simply code for, “I feel threatened when I have to deal with someone smarter.” Politicians are the worst offenders. Many of them have egos that are so big that they always want to be the smartest people in the room. That is why we see so many blunders and missteps in our political and legislative process. If really smart people in much greater numbers were advising our elected officials, perhaps things might be better in the public arena.

In the entrepreneurial world we can see the result of not hiring the smartest people simply by looking at the politicians and their staffs. To begin with, we must avoid the ego trap that does not allow us to admit that there are people who have great ideas . . . maybe even better than ours! Once we get this out of the way it is a downhill run from there. The word gets around that we are looking for the best and brightest and they beat a path to our door. Right? Well, maybe, but there is more work to be done for this to happen.

First, we must truly value the opinions of others. I can tell you that I went through a period in my career where I would seek the input of others but was not convincing that I really wanted it. Rather than incorporate the suggestions of others, I simply went ahead and did things the way I wanted. I was not doing this intentionally – I just did not know how to take such input and do anything with it. Together with this problem was the fact that I was way too controlling in the decision-making process. So, not only was I not valuing the opinions of others, but I was also shutting them out when it came to deciding what to do.

Smart people want to take real responsibility. They want to be coached – not told what to do. They want to believe that they are valuable to an organization and not just another cog in the wheel. Smart people need to understand our vision for the future and what role they will play along the way. They need to be challenged. Woe be to the entrepreneur who allows smart people to become bored! Keep piling on the challenges at a manageable pace and do not stop. Above all, show gratitude on a regular basis, but do not hesitate to provide constructive criticism when necessary. Most of this advice applies for every member of the team, but it is especially critical for the high achievers.

When we get our ego out of the way, we open a world of possibilities in terms of hiring amazingly gifted talent. In so doing, we create organizations that are better able to compete and win at an extremely high level.

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 Prom Night Entrepreneur

The Holy Grail for business start-ups and mature organizations alike is customer procurement. Winning customers at a sufficient pace is critical to the survival of every company and especially for those at the fledgling stage. And yet I cannot tell you how many times I have seen entrepreneurs focus more on other aspects of their businesses rather than making sure they have enough customers to keep the doors open.

There is no doubt that we must have a minimally viable product that our customers want to buy. And implementing a wide variety of systems and processes is also an important factor. But without the customers, everything else is moot. To find the customers and convince them to spend their money with us requires pulling out all the stops. Top notch interactive websites, regular informational blogs, referral programs, social media, drip marketing, multi-media advertising and positive publicity are building blocks toward customer procurement. Yet, even with full implementation, the customers may not come in numbers or as quickly as are needed. What to do? Go back to the basics and fundamentals.

Think back to prom night – what was happening? Girls had their hair done. Guys were renting tuxedos. Corsages and boutonnieres were purchased; makeup was applied, and shoes were shined to a fine gloss. In other words, we were all trying to look our very best. Think about this with respect to our products or services. Have we done everything possible to look fantastic to those outside our company?

Do prospective customers clearly understand our value proposition? How strongly are we able to demonstrate that our product or service solves a problem and preferably one with which a lot of pain is associated? This is a major failure for a vast number of companies. Their product/service might be nice to have, but the customer cannot find a compelling reason to purchase it. Think Colgate Kitchen Entrees. Never heard of this? You are not alone. The folks that make Colgate toothpaste thought it might be a good idea to launch a line of frozen dinners. Customers could eat a Colgate meal and then use Colgate toothpaste to brush their teeth. What kind of a value proposition is that?! If we can’t nail our value proposition, then neither can our customers.

Customers have many choices when purchasing a product or service. Entrepreneurs sometimes become so enamored with their own ideas that they fail to objectively assess the competition. I have certainly been guilty of this myself in the past. I would pooh-pooh a competitor and rationalize that our approach was far more sophisticated and desirable. And yet, I did not ask the bottom-line question of what customers liked better about the competition. We may have a product or service that truly is twice as good as anything else on the market, but unless we can make a clear and concise case for differentiation, we’ll be stuck with the rest of the pack. Effectively communicating product or service differentiation means life or death in the business world.

A strong uptrend for customer procurement will happen if we practice the basics and fundamentals. This can be accomplished by presenting our product or service in as attractive a manner as possible; when we have a killer value proposition, and when we effectively communicate how we are different. Doing all of this will ensure that we will be the hit of the party.

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 Sensitive Entrepreneur

We have all known hard-charging Type A entrepreneurs who have a “take no prisoners” attitude. These people are the doers. They are decisive and they know how to execute. But sometimes there is a downside to this sort of personality. Yes, sometimes those of us who are very driven may tend to be insensitive. This usually is not intentional but nonetheless it can have a detrimental effect on our team members and the culture we are trying to build.

There are many ways that insensitivity can manifest. It can be as direct as making derogatory or belittling comments to as subtle as failing to acknowledge someone with a friendly greeting in the morning. Think about an exchange like this. Team member – “I’d like to volunteer to work with Jim on the Norton project.” Entrepreneur – “No, you just need to stay focused on what you are doing.” While it may be absolutely true that the team member needs to keep doing what she’s doing, the way the entrepreneur delivered the message could be construed as insensitive. A different selection of words would make all the difference. How about this instead? “Jan – thanks for the offer. Your project is critically important, and I am counting on you to get it wrapped up. But I will take a rain check on having you help with the next one.” This statement acknowledges the team member with an expression of appreciation and affirms her value. And it gives her hope that she will be given another opportunity in the future.

So, how do we develop the appropriate level of sensitivity without going so far as to sing Kumbaya all the time? There is a very simple method that I have learned over the years. I will admit to once-upon-a-time being the insensitive Type A hard-charger that was described in the opening paragraph. I justified my behavior by believing that I was simply being expedient in my dealings with others. After all, I was moving at 100 miles an hour and the quicker I could get through with one meeting the sooner I could move on to the next. But I gradually became aware that my people skills were suffering. I was not doing anything to cultivate relationships or goodwill. Eventually I developed a new awareness by just putting myself in the other person’s shoes. How would I feel if someone spoke to me a certain way; said something in a certain manner, or failed to somehow acknowledge me?

The key is to practice, practice and constantly practice. I try to pay attention to how everyone around me is feeling. In a restaurant, I want to make sure that the wait staff is properly appreciated. At the office I try to make eye contact with members of our team as I walk by and greet each and every one of them. I pay attention to the language that I use, going the extra mile to avoid careless statements that could be misconstrued. Again, I am always testing what I say or do against the basic premise of how I would want to be treated if I were the other person. After a while it becomes very intuitive.

The mark of a good leader is how he or she treats others. Running roughshod or being humble and sensitive? The choice is easy when walking a mile in another’s shoes.

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 Mistake-Prone Entrepreneur

I have a philosophy that mistakes are simply unfinished experiments in the laboratory of life. That does not mean we want to leave unfinished the same experiment over and over. But being too tentative and too cautious to avoid making a mistake may itself be a mistake! The obvious conclusion is that we want to learn from our mistakes and turn them into productive experiences.

To turn our mistakes into productive experiences we need to analyze them in a process-oriented manner. Being a go-go entrepreneur, it is not easy for me to slow down long enough to reflect on what went wrong. Generally, I just want to get back in the game and do it right the next time. This worked somewhat well in the past, but as I have gotten older, I’ve learned that being more intentional about analyzing mistakes increases the odds of not making the same mistake again. It also has caused me to look for the “silver lining” – that nugget of information that might enable me to turn the mistake into something unintentionally positive.

Step One in my mistake analysis process involves the simple act of identifying what went wrong and writing it down. Yes, I know this takes time, but it forces us to take a hard look at what happened. Did I follow an established process, or did I deviate from it – maybe even wing it? Did I fail to build-in a sufficient margin of safety at the front end? Did I somehow ignore warning signals that were flashing at me? Was I driven by emotion or was my initiative grounded in facts? I have found that most of my mistakes came from deviating from an established process. Because of my go-go nature I want results to happen very quickly. By analyzing my mistakes, I have recognized a tendency pattern to cut corners.

Step Two requires that we consciously determine what we need to do differently and commit to do it. Knowing that I have the propensity to cut corners, I have become committed to following established processes. Before I move forward with anything I am doing, I stop myself and ask the simple question, “What is the process that needs to be followed?” I make certain that I know exactly what the process should be and then I affirm, “I know the process and I will follow it.” Sometimes I may even make this pledge to a close colleague for accountability sake.

The final step in mistake analysis is that of looking for the “silver lining.” History is littered with mistakes that resulted in brilliance. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin due to a mistake he made in his lab. Another famous mistake at the 3M laboratories turned into Post-it Notes. Plastic was invented as the result of a mistake – some say that Charles Goodyear left a mixture of rubber and sulfur on the stove too long and found that he had created a new material. Wilson Greatbatch was building a heart rhythm recording device in 1956; used a wrong part and realized that the device would maintain a heart rhythm – thus the pacemaker was born. If we do not look for the silver linings in our mistakes, we may never find that little (or big) something that manifests into a positive development. Finding the silver lining requires a creative mindset – perhaps this is an exercise that can be done with others. Take the mistake and purposefully look through the “rubble” to see if there is anything of value that might be useful.

Mistakes don’t have to be the end of the world for us if we take the time to find out what happened; how we’re going to act differently in the future and committing to such different action, and finding the silver linings that may be hiding in plain sight.

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 Unlimited Entrepreneur

Let us count brick walls. They are everywhere. We encounter them at work and at home. We find them in our personal and business relationships. Brick walls seem to be a part of our lives. But do they need to be?

We tend to be great masons and build some very elaborate and impregnable brick walls. The brick walls to which I refer are the limitations that we impose upon ourselves. Sometimes we believe that these limitations are imposed by others but if we really examine them closely, they are more often than not, self-imposed. It is critical for us as entrepreneurs to avoid allowing thoughts of lack or limitation to creep into our psyches.

Let us look at some of the things we speak to ourselves and say to others. Anytime a sentence contains the words “I can’t,” “I don’t” or “I won’t” there is a strong possibility that limitations are in play. Certainly, there are some limitations that are rational and necessary – I am not talking about those. Thoughts of lack and limitation that prevent us from achieving our greatest potential and success are what we need to train ourselves to eliminate.

I can recall several times over the course of my career where a rookie entered the commercial real estate business and completed a series of amazing transactions. Everyone looked at each other and said, “How did he do it?” Well, I know how. This rookie did not know what he did not know. Make sense? In other words, he did not know to place limitations on himself that many veterans of the industry had imposed upon themselves. As a result, he made cold calls on clients that others thought to be untouchable or intractable. And guess what? He got deals done.

Why do we limit ourselves in the first place? Often it is the result of fear or a lack of knowledge. Analyze the following statement. “I can’t pursue that business opportunity because I don’t have the money to do so.” This statement contains both the “I can’t” and “I don’t” negative affirmations which will probably result in this person not pursuing the business opportunity. Most likely the underlying reason for the statement is that this person either has a fear about the business opportunity – perhaps it’s a fear of failure – or he/she simply doesn’t know how to find the money needed. Regardless, the opportunity will not be pursued because this person has built a brick wall around it.

So, what is the truth? We have a choice to either create reality or face reality. If we choose to create our reality, we can do so by removing all thoughts of lack and limitation. We tap into our creative energy and identify the resources that we need to succeed. We pursue that business opportunity because we find a way to raise the money that is needed. In several of the companies with which I am involved, we regularly complete apartment developments and acquisitions utilizing very complex financial structures. We have rescued many a deal from the scrap heap because we not only have the knowledge to figure out how to make them work, but we also have no fear of failure. Do we fail? Sure, we do. But our failures are simply steps toward our ultimate end goal. And we manage our risk so that none of our failures are fatal.

We can go through a life full of brick walls that are of our own making, or we can create our own reality by taking the simple yet powerful step of eliminating thoughts of lack and limitation. Whenever these thoughts start to become a part of our mindset, we recognize them; we release them, and we replace them with the truth of unlimited possibilities.

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 Entrepreneur Negotiator

Harrison Ford starred in the classic movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson starred in Lost in Translation. Richard Dreyfuss played the lead in Lost in Yonkers. The television show Lost in Space ran from 1965-68. And entrepreneurs star every day in the Lost Art of Negotiation. Why is negotiation a lost art? I believe that too many of us see negotiating as a competition.

Google gives 90,500,000 results for the word negotiation so there is no shortage of material about the subject. But I do not want to focus on negotiating techniques – that is not the point of this blog. Instead, I would like to offer some ideas that may be helpful in making the negotiating process more productive.

If we start with the premise in a negotiation that we want to win, then it becomes a competition where someone (not us) is going to lose. From here we harden into our “positions” and the tension begins. There is a better way. First, we need to see a negotiation as an opportunity to solve a problem. It is a dual problem – one for us and one for another party. Trying to solve just our problem may be far more difficult than figuring out how to solve for both parties. What do we do when we solve a problem? We start by clearly defining all elements of the problem. Then we catalog all the possible solutions. Our innovation and creativity come into play at this point.  

In the process of attacking the problem we establish our bedrock principles. For example, we may resolve that no matter what, we will always be respectful. Perhaps we commit to avoid getting hung up on personalities. Or we may decide that regardless of how dirty the other party may play our approach will continually reflect total integrity. Ultimately our analysis leads us to the bottom line for the most critical factors to the outcome we believe will best solve the problem for both parties.

Recently I was coaching a business owner about the potential sale of her company. I asked her what her bottom-line number was, and she gave me a figure. Then I asked her if negotiations led to a value that was $50,000 less than her bottom-line number, would she sell. She replied in the affirmative. So, we went back and forth with the $50,000 question until we finally reached an amount that she absolutely positively would not accept. The takeaway for her was that the initial figure she thought was her bottom-line number actually was not.

As we engage in a negotiation we listen to and understand what the other party is telling us. This information is then overlaid onto the problem we have identified, and our array of solutions is applied. We avoid confrontation by working from a set of facts; seek agreement wherever possible, and constantly narrow the scope of issues.

Being in the commercial real estate business I have been in continuous negotiations in one form or another for more than 45 years. You can read all the books you want and watch all the videos in the world on negotiating strategies. And if you pay attention to them you can easily end up getting too cutesy. I have found that a fairly straightforward approach has been extremely successful for me. I do not try to outthink the other party or construct a series of chess-like moves. Instead, I know what my bottom line is, and I know the principles that I want to maintain. If I must violate my principles to get to my bottom-line, I’ll withdraw. And I have learned that transparency and respect have been more valuable than anything else.

Entering a negotiation as a creative opportunity to solve a problem for both parties puts us on the same path. Bedrock principles and a clear understanding of our bottom line is then the recipe for a positive outcome.

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 “On It” Entrepreneur

I have the good fortune to regularly mentor several amazing entrepreneurs. One question I frequently ask is, “how much time do you spend working on your business versus in your business?” A similar question is, “how much time do you spend working on strategy vs. tactics?” Usually the answer to both questions is, “not much.” The problem is easy to identify. Entrepreneurs find themselves sucked into the daily grind of firefighting and there is no time left to do much else.

So how do we focus on strategy and vision when the bullets are flying, and we are hunkered down in our foxholes? For starters, we need to examine exactly what it is that we are doing. As part of my mentoring process I inquire on specifically what an entrepreneur is spending his or her time. It is interesting to listen to the responses which often reflect the fact that entrepreneurs are handling things that really should not be their responsibility. Mostly this includes performing tasks for which others should be held accountable. And it is not just about the failure to delegate. Some entrepreneurs take the position that “if I want it done right, I need to do it myself.” Or “I really don’t have the time to show someone else how to do it – it’s more efficient for me to bang it out.”

To solve this, we need to understand what prevents us from delegating that which should be handled by others. Do we have the right people on the bus? Do we have enough people? Are the right people properly trained? Are we too high control? When I have experienced problems with delegation in the past it is usually been the result of not having the right people to whom I can delegate. Getting to the root cause of our inability to delegate is crucial. If we do not have the right people, what is more important than solving this problem? One of the nice things about having the right people on the team is the fact that they may not need as much training – bright, right people figure out a lot of things on their own.

How is an entrepreneur who has a very small team able to delegate effectively? In other words, he or she is a player/coach and is on the field for every single play. This is where blocking out specific amounts of time to plan and strategize can be invaluable. Perhaps this occurs every morning from 8:00 to 9:00 without fail. During that timeframe, the entrepreneur takes no phone calls or any other interruptions and refines the strategy for the enterprise, reviews key performance indicators and determines if the business is on track with respect to vision and mission. Then the entrepreneur suits up and runs out on the field with the rest of the team to face another day. I cannot emphasize enough how absolutely nothing can be allowed to disrupt this daily routine.

We can ill afford to procrastinate when it comes to working on our business because we are too busy working in our business. The more this happens the more likely it is that we will get caught on the hamster wheel. Around and around we go as fast as our legs will churn – but we are not making any headway. Why exert so much energy (and money) to end up right back where we started?

Learning how to delegate and hold others accountable will allow us to strategize and envision the future for our enterprise. And sequestering ourselves for a specified period of time every single day will enable that planning and visioning to happen.

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 Coach-Entrepreneur

There is a lot of talk these days about mentoring. Many members of Generation X and Generation Y (Millennials) have told researchers that having a mentor is of high importance to them. As a Baby Boomer, I take great pleasure in being called upon to mentor other entrepreneurs. But as the CEO of our family of companies, I made the mistake of also thinking that I could be a mentor to some of the up and coming leaders in our organization. Over the years, this realization has become more apparent to me and its subtlety is what tripped me up.

By my definition, a mentor is an advisor and nothing more. The mentee can take what the mentor offers and do with it what he or she wishes. A mentor typically has no “skin in the game” where the mentee is concerned. As a result, the mentor freely dispenses advice and opinions without an agenda. CEOs should not try to be mentors within their own companies. Why? Because they clearly have an agenda which is first and foremost shaped around what is in the company’s best interest. In my experience trying to be a mentor to a handful of leaders in our firm has not worked effectively. They are deferential to a fault because I am the CEO. They listen to what I have to say differently than if I were outside the organization. For example, when I challenge them with a particular question or premise, they take it as gospel. The relationship of the CEO to any member of the team is going to be such that a true mentoring relationship will be very difficult.

So, what is an appropriate role for a CEO to play in developing leaders within his or her company? I have found that becoming a coach is the right path to take. Let us use sports as the metaphor here. The coach is a teacher. He/she may call the plays from the sidelines until a sufficient level of expertise and trust is developed with the players to allow them to call their own plays. A coach should be wise and compassionate; yet there are times when he may be appropriately demanding and exacting.

Gen Xers and Millennials are well-served to understand the distinction between coaching and mentoring. I believe that a future leader should have both. Find a mentor who is older and has plenty of experience outside the company. By building extensive relationships throughout the community, one can usually connect with someone who may be willing to serve in a mentoring capacity. Then, try and establish a coaching relationship with a superior inside the company, assuming the individual has a coaching personality. Unfortunately, this is not always the case with certain people in positions of authority who are insecure and have power issues. I submit that it is healthy for the organization to move away from the boss-employee mentality and develop an attitude of coach-player.

CEOs and members of their teams can be fulfilled by a healthy coaching relationship. And an outside mentor can be the icing on the cake.

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 “Paladin” Entrepreneur

I grew up in an age where the hero of the day was a cowboy or someone like Superman. I think my favorite was a character named Paladin played by Richard Boone in Have Gun Will Travel TV western series that ran from 1957 to 1963. Paladin wore a black hat, but he was definitely a good guy. He took care of the bad guys with his cunning and his fast gun. He wore a stoic expression and generally solved the problems he faced by himself. You never saw him flinch. There were no high fives; no fist bumps; no complaints, and he was always the gentleman. Many of us grew up idolizing macho heroes of this sort.

Paladin is a wonderful metaphor for today’s entrepreneur. How many of us take the “never let ‘em see you sweat” approach and soldier on to the finish line regardless of the obstacles we encounter? I know that I certainly have felt responsibility for the hundreds of employees and their families that are integral to the success of our companies. And as a result, there have been times when I have sacrificed mightily to make certain that my colleagues are safe and secure. After all, isn’t that what a leader is supposed to do?

We entrepreneurs often spend more time working in rather than on our businesses. I will stand at the head of the line to admit that in the past I handled things that others could have been doing because I a) wanted to set a good example, b) figured that I could get it done more quickly than showing someone else how to do it, or c) wanted it done properly. After a while I began to wonder why everyone stepped back and let me do these things not realizing that the example I was setting was encouraging people to believe that I would handle it! I suppose at the time that there was a feeling of indispensability on my part. I needed to be in the middle of things to pave the way to victory.

So, what did I learn following this path? I learned that no one saw me as “the hero.” They became reliant upon me and they also felt that I did not have confidence in them. Apathy became a real problem. The quality of work slipped because the “Lee will fix it – he fixes everything” syndrome was in full swing. I was burning out and not having as much fun as I had in the past.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to realize that if I really care about my team members and their families – and I really do – the most important thing I can do for them is to create a sustainable organization. Companies where the founder or key principal micromanages everything and strangles everyone are doomed to die when the leader retires or dies. I cannot bear the thought of that happening to the people I have worked with for decades. My solution has been to develop a culture of empowerment and coaching. I now spend time helping my teammates learn how to fish as opposed to doing the fishing for them. It is my responsibility to hold the vision for our companies, but that has become a shared vision rather than just my vision. Delegation is a key element to sustainability and all team members now have clearly defined roles and accountabilities with training and resources devoted to helping them succeed.

Heroes come from the battlefield or burning buildings and not from the boardroom. Sharing responsibility is the best way to create a sustainable organization.

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 Self-Talking Entrepreneur

I have written a lot about mindset and how much it influences our lives. Embracing a positive mindset is empowering but it requires us to establish new thought patterns. I thought it might be helpful to catalog some of the more common things that we may say from time to time and offer an alternative. I find that when I intentionally pay attention to what I say verbally and silently, I catch myself before I go down the “negative road.” But if I do not pay attention, it is easy to end up there.

“I never have enough time.” Each of us has the same amount of time. It is all about how we prioritize. I now say, “I have time to do what I choose.” Notice that I am in control now rather than allowing myself to be tugged and pulled along the river of life.

“I just can’t win.” There is no way we can win if we affirm defeat from the start. How about this instead? “I will continue to do whatever is necessary until I win.” There is a hint of perseverance in this statement . . . which often is the secret ingredient to winning.

“I’m sick.” We all probably hear this quite often. In fact, we have most likely said it once or twice (or more). But again, why would we want to affirm something so negative? Here is an alternative. “I see myself as healthy and whole.” Perhaps we are feeling a bit under the weather, but aren’t we better off affirming a positive vision of ourselves?

“I’m struggling with my finances and never have any money.” To allow good things to come our way we need to shed all thoughts of lack and limitation. Why? Because they block the flow of the positive energy, we need to be prosperous. This statement (said with gusto!) will fully open the fire hydrant of creative energy. “Abundance is mine and I claim it!

“Something bad is going to happen, I just know it.” Hmmm. I know that I have been guilty of self-fulfilling prophecies and this one sure qualifies. It is as simple as this. If we expect something bad to happen, it probably will. “I expect everything to proceed in perfect order and visualize the end result that I am seeking.” There is no better way to inoculate ourselves from negativity than with a strong positive affirmation such as this.

“I don’t understand why so-and-so is treating me this way. It’s so unfair.” Conflict with others can lead to a feeling of victimization . . . if we let it. The truth is, we are only victims of our own mindset, and that is something we can control. When we are willing to take responsibility for our own actions we will say, “I am going to make a positive difference in the lives I touch.”

Yes, it is possible that these positive statements may sound hokey. But here is the point. The only way to break out of an undesirable mindset is to replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations that we really believe. The best way to accomplish this is to understand exactly what we say that we want to change, and then be prepared with our replacement thoughts. Having practiced this for years, I can tell you that I still catch myself moving in the wrong direction at times. But that is the key – we catch ourselves and move back into a positive state of mind.

Life is too short to live in anything but a positive mindset. For me, the “negative road” has become a road less traveled. I see this as so for you too.

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.