Do the Hustle

The legendary Sir Richard Branson was 16 when he launched his first business venture in 1967 – a magazine called Student. He followed this with a business selling records through the mail. Thus was born Virgin Records and ultimately a multitude of companies under the Virgin brand.

Mark Cuban was 25-years old when he started software company, MicroSolutions. Seven years later he sold it at a price that put $6 million in his pocket. He reinvested his winnings into another of his start-ups, Broadcast.com which netted $5.7 billion when sold.

John Paul DeJoria bounced around in the foster system as a boy. He was involved with crime and spent time in the military before he borrowed $700 to start John Paul Mitchell Systems. His humble beginnings included door-to-door sales and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Later he founded Patron tequila, another killer brand. Today he’s worth more than $3 billion.

What did all three of these entrepreneurs have in common? They were all “hustlers.” I know that when many of us hear that term, it doesn’t have positive connotations. We have images of a smarmy, greasy, fast talking character who is constantly trying to run a con. But this isn’t the kind of hustle to which I refer. Instead, this kind of hustle is all about a desire to win.

Entrepreneurs who have hustle are resilient. They are creative and they are fearless. The easiest way to describe an entrepreneurial hustler is to look at the parallel of a hard-fought basketball game. We’ve all seen players scrambling after loose balls, flying into the stands and throwing themselves onto the floor. They are willing to sacrifice their bodies with reckless abandon in their quest to achieve victory.

When we hustle we have a warrior’s mindset. Our initial focus is on survival. How many successful entrepreneurs started from deep and dark places? Remember how J. K. Rowling faced tremendous adversity in the early days before her celebrity as the author of the Harry Potter books? Her mother passed away; she gave birth to a child and went through a divorce; was clinically depressed, and lived on welfare for a time. But her only choice was to write to survive. When we are ready to curl up and hide from the world we should remember how others were able to make it through the tough times and come out the other side stronger and ready to whip the world. Resilience is a major key to survival.

Perhaps our business isn’t growing like we planned. Maybe we’ve even seen it slide backward. Now is the time to get into “hustle mode.” This can take many forms but the most important is a mindset of renewed determination. We examine our strategy and tactics so that we can make the necessary adjustments . . . with renewed determination. We push to new levels of innovation . . . with renewed determination. And we may even do things we’ve never done before . . . with renewed determination, so that we can survive.

Eventually we begin to achieve momentum. We begin to win. And we continue to hustle. Our mindset shifts away from simple survival, and the focus is now on how to thrive. We are relentless in discovering ways to become even more creative. We absolutely, positively know that we are going to succeed. Our “hustle” now involves an even greater sense of urgency along with commitment and dedication to setting our goals even higher. We ignore our critics and all the naysayers. We work hard and we endure the pain. There is no question we’ll make many sacrifices along the way. I can remember in the early years of my career when we were building our business. We had passed the point of survival and were beginning to thrive. I would sometimes arrive at work very early – 3:00 AM. And I would meet another colleague who was leaving to go home for a few hours of sleep. We were hustling and we were winning.

The entrepreneurial hustle often begins with survival and eventually results in a breakthrough where we thrive. Resilience, hard work, creativity, a fanatically positive mindset and laser like focus are some of the more important factors to this equation.

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 65 – After the Love is Gone.

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.

Wanna Change the World?

Here’s an obvious statement – entrepreneurs want to build successful businesses. But there’s something more that drives many of us. In some cases this objective is just as important as building the business itself. It’s a notion that invokes strong emotions and can be a driving force. Yes, many entrepreneurs want to make a difference in the world. They want to help change lives in a positive way. This is especially true of the millennial generation but also strikes a multi-generational chord for many.

While making a difference sounds great, how do we go about creating a company that does good work? A strong set of core values and a vision that embraces changing the world are critical factors. But to truly move forward to effectively and sustainably implement this concept we must start . . . with ourselves. Making a difference must become a mindset and a lifestyle. Think about it this way. If we want to lose weight permanently we don’t go on a diet, we change our lifestyle. It works the same way when we want to make a difference – we must change our lifestyle.

There is a simple yet powerful method that will help us move in the direction we desire. It revolves around a daily journal that we keep in which we record each attempt we make to do something that positively impacts one or more people. Here’s something else to think about. Making a difference doesn’t have to involve massive sweeping changes in the world. It starts with a lot of little steps that eventually have a cumulative effect. One of the mistakes that lead to frustration for entrepreneurs is believing that they can be the catalyst for major transformations overnight. Sure, every once in a while this can happen. But shooting for the stars without enough fuel is certainly going to end up in a fizzling disappointment.

What sort of baby steps should we be taking to develop a difference-making lifestyle and mindset? Look at all of the opportunities we have to make a positive impact on the lives of others every single day. In the restaurant where we are having breakfast or lunch, we can compliment our waitperson on providing excellent service. We can hold the door open so that another person can enter or exit. Perhaps we even anonymously pay for someone else’s meal in that restaurant from time-to-time. Maybe we handwrite a thank-you note to someone who has done something nice for us. Or we call a person with best wishes for their birthday. Do we always remember to acknowledge others with a smile and a warm greeting when we see them? Are our “please” and “thank you” manners always on display?

The little every day habits we develop to brighten the day of another individual are foundational toward taking bigger steps. Suppose one of our team members is apparently in distress. We can lend a sympathetic ear. Volunteering is a terrific way to make a positive difference in the lives we touch and can run the gamut of activities. Helping at a homeless shelter, mentoring other entrepreneurs, reading to sick kids in a children’s hospital and providing assistance to scouting organizations are examples of such bigger steps.

To keep ourselves on track, we utilize the Daily Difference Journal to record what we have done each day toward our lifestyle change. While it may seem trite to make an entry like, “told Olivia that her smile brightened the day,” the act of keeping such a tally reinforces the intentionality of our desire to do good things for our world. Repeating this process day-in and day-out helps set the pattern that we desire. Initially it pushes us to remember to look for opportunities to say and do things that create a positive experience for others. Eventually it becomes second nature and we don’t have to remember anything. We simply live each day looking for ways to make others happy and live better lives.

Making a difference in the world is a terrific benefit of being an entrepreneur. A Daily Difference Journal puts us on the path to accomplishing this with gusto!

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 55 – F-.

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.

Civil War

Saying that our society has become very polarized is a massive understatement. The 2016 political campaign was one of the nastiest and most vile election cycles I’ve ever seen. Personal attacks drowned out any attempt to discuss the issues and it was pretty clear that up and down the ballot, the candidates really did not like each other. There are many reasons that we find ourselves in this mess – but that’s not the point of this blog. Instead, I’d like to explore the long lost notion of respectful disagreement.

Many of us entrepreneurs have a healthy ego drive. This is a good thing and should not be confused with the self-centered, destructive aspects of ego. Ego drive is our desire to persuade someone to agree with us. When an entrepreneur hears the word “Yes,” it’s music to our ears. We develop marketing strategies, sales pitches and a variety of other theses to convince others to see things our way and buy whatever we’re selling. This might be an idea, a product, a service or whatever. We all know that things go relatively smoothly when heads are nodding approvingly and the Yes-word often finds its way into our eardrums. But we are also aware – sometimes painfully so – that others don’t always agree with us. And if we aren’t careful, that’s where the trouble begins.

Respectful disagreement is guided by the ageless precept of the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you. Pretty simple – right? Yet, our strong ego drive sometimes makes it difficult to practice the Golden Rule. We struggle to understand how it could be possible that someone else doesn’t see the logic that we have offered. We can’t believe that another person actually has a counter perspective that is possibly 180˚ different than ours. Tempers may flare, veins in necks begin popping, faces get red and jaws are clenched. The whole situation can quickly devolve into raised voices, hurt feelings and a completely unproductive encounter.

Here’s what I’ve learned about respectful disagreement. It starts with understanding that we’re all equally entitled to our opinions. Thus, while what I believe may or may not be right, it doesn’t entitle me to become a flaming you-know-what when making my case to others. Further, I need to remember that positive persuasion is much more likely to produce the outcome I desire than is a negative approach. Remembering to smile before engaging in a persuasive moment helps set a positive tone. I also work hard to avoid making inflammatory statements. For example, saying “You obviously don’t understand what I’m saying,” can sound accusatory. A better approach might be to say, “Let me explain things differently,” or “I’m sorry, I’m not being very articulate with what I’m saying.” Being mindful of my body language is also important. I try to make sure that I maintain an “openness” at all times. I use non-threatening gestures; keep from crossing my arms; eliminate the urge to sigh or roll my eyes, and retain a passive facial expression. When we nod and say, “I understand what you are saying,” whether we agree with it or not, we are signaling the desire to preserve and continue a dialogue.

If we want to get to Yes, we do everything we possibly can to make the other person feel important and respected. We fail at this when we are manipulative, have hidden agendas, or take an approach that makes that person feel small or angry. Sometimes it’s hard work to stay positive and courteous throughout the encounter. Maybe the other person doesn’t choose to follow the Golden Rule. But that doesn’t mean we should do the same. If we don’t end up on the same page, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Let’s just agree to disagree.”

Civil and positive discourse is still possible. Practicing it will dramatically increase our chances of success as we work to persuade others to say “Yes.”

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 – Audio Episode 21 – Fortune Telling

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.

civilwar

Bridge Building

Recently I was in a meeting with a group of entrepreneurs. One of them has been struggling to get traction with his entrepreneurial venture. His stress level was quite high and he indicated that he was under severe financial pressure. And to cap it off, his spouse was suffering with some anxiety issues that rendered her unable to care for their children at times. This all was adding up to a perfect storm of events that was creating considerable negative energy in his life.

This individual wants his entrepreneurial idea to work in the worst way. Obviously that is adding to the pressure. But he must clear up the various issues he’s dealing with in order to achieve the success that he desires. I suggested that he initially do only three things. First he needs to put his idea on the shelf for the time being – simply let it go. This doesn’t mean that he abandons it permanently but simply takes a breather with it. Second, I told him he needs to get a job so that he can provide for his family and relieve the financial pressure he is experiencing. I recommended that he live as frugally as possible and try and save some money that can be utilized when he resumes the pursuit of his entrepreneurial venture. Finally, I advised him to make a consistent practice of meditation – finding a quiet time each day to clear his mind and work on deep breathing. The purpose here is for him to become centered and release his negative energy.

Another entrepreneurial friend had been trying for quite some time to raise money for her venture and was having no success. She was extremely frustrated and was very emotionally invested in her idea. I had been following her situation for quite some time and suggested that she move on and do something else. She went home and took everything related to the idea; put those items in a clear plastic tub and stashed them in her attic. She had completely released her idea at that point. Within days she received a call from another investor asking her to reconsider. She revived her idea at that point by pivoting and re-tooling her concept. Today she is well on her way to raising the necessary funds for her revamped business concept.

I liken the steps I recommended to my friends as bridge building. When we are pursuing success it doesn’t just happen instantly. There often are obstacles that we must face, some of which can create significant adversity. Sometimes our instinct is to continue “fighting the fight.” By trying to muscle through, we constrict our flow of positive energy and end up wallowing in our circumstances. And when this happens we remain stuck on the wrong side of the river.

To cross the river we must build a bridge. That requires that we take the necessary steps to restore positive energy and an optimistic outlook. One of the hardest things for an entrepreneur to do is to let go of his or her idea – even if it’s just momentary. But we know that when we continue to try and hammer, hammer and hammer – we’re not actually building the bridge. Instead we’re just stuck in the mud.

The entrepreneurial journey will periodically require the building of bridges to reach our success. To build the bridge we need to pause for a moment and identify forward-moving actions that will eventually ensure that we succeed.

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.

Bridge Building

A Road Less Traveled

I’ve 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 don’t pay attention, it’s easy to end up there.

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

“I just can’t win.” There’s 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’s 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’ve most likely said it once or twice (or more). But again, why would we want to affirm something so negative? Here’s 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’ve been guilty of self-fulfilling prophecies and this one sure qualifies. It’s 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’s 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’re only victims of our own mindset, and that’s something we can control. When we are willing to take responsibility for our own actions we’ll say, “I am going to make a positive difference in the lives I touch.”

Yes, it’s possible that these positive statements may sound hokey. But here’s 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’s 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.

road

Resolute

Question: It’s time for another New Year’s resolution.

Answer: Over the past year I’ve written a great deal about how the mindset we have means everything. For the coming year I resolve to hold a positive and productive mindset about everything and everyone. We’ve all heard that our minds are incredibly powerful. Undoubtedly we’ve seen numerous examples of how this impacts our lives and the lives of others – so we know it works. Our opportunity in the New Year is to commit to put this into practice.

If I encounter a health challenge of some sort, I will hold a positive and productive mindset to see myself as healthy and whole. I know that the power of my mind will enable my body to heal. A negative mindset will block the healing process.

If I face difficulties in my relationships I will hold a positive and productive mindset to bring about peace and harmony. When negative thoughts about another person creep into my mind, I will recognize them; release them, and replace them with positive thoughts.

Should I face financial difficulties I will hold a positive and productive mindset in order to find the right and perfect solution. This will give me insight into a window of creativity that will lead me to a state of abundance and prosperity. Negative thinking will constrict the creative flow that I need.

When I find myself in a funk I know that this can turn into frustration. I will hold a positive and productive mindset in order to become relaxed and refreshed. Frustration is pure negative energy and will prevent me from returning to a place of balance and order.

If I experience fear, I know that a positive and productive mindset will allow me to shine a light into the shadows and chase the fear away. Negativity and fear are twin siblings and I have no use for them.

I am solely responsible for my own thoughts and I accept the consequences of those thoughts. I know that positive thoughts produce positive results and negative thoughts produce negative results. Thus, I make the choice to hold a positive and productive mindset in order to live a happy and successful life. The equation is simple and straightforward.

Happy New Year!

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.

New Year Image 2

Grrrrrrreat!

Question: Is there a secret formula for “greatness?” Some people seem to be destined that way. The rest of us . . . I’m not so sure sometimes.

Answer: Think about the people who you might consider being great – they can be living or dead. Who do you include? Albert Einstein? George Washington? Jonas Salk? Mother Teresa? What do all of these people have in common? They were all human beings, just like you and me. Each of them faced trials and tribulations similar to our own. None of them set out to be great. So just how did they rise to the level of respect and achievement that they did?

Each of these great people worked hard to live to their full potential. No one actually does this completely. But some people seem to get closer than others. So what does this say about mankind? We all are meant to do great things. When I was a child my parents pushed me hard to be better. My teachers did the same. On the basketball court my coaches rode me hard. There were times when I resented this but as an adult I realize that each parent, teacher and coach saw that I had potential and wanted me to achieve it. I attribute some of my success to having these people believe in me and encourage me to reach for the stars.

Some of us weren’t pushed as hard during our formative years as was I. So how do we do great things? Here’s the formula:

(Big Dreams + Risk Something) + (Resilience + Perseverance) + Positivity = Greatness

We can’t do great things if we don’t dream big dreams. Why don’t more people dream bigger? Because often there is risk involved or they don’t believe they can realize their dreams. But when we dream big and we put ourselves at risk, then we have a chance to make a real difference. And there’s no doubt that when we do both of these things we may not always succeed immediately. So it’s imperative that we bounce back and keep on trying. In the immortal words of Winston Churchill – we never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. Finally we must maintain a positive outlook on everything we’re doing. Negativity blocks the flow of positive energy that we need to make the formula work. There’s one word that describes all of this . . . mindset. Great people who do great things have a great mindset.

You and I can have a great mindset. It requires practice every single day. Our DNA is programmed for us to do great things. When our mindset is in the right place, our greatness will manifest.

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.

Einstein