In the early years of my first business, I spent $17,000 on print advertising, resulting in exactly $0 in sales. I also invested $50 for someone post flyers on newspaper boxes on the streets of NYC, resulting in tens of thousands in dollars from what turned out to be long-time loyal customers in the following years.
I’m grateful to have had both experiences for the valuable lessons I learned in the process. While nobody can say for sure what works, there is one thing that unequivocally doesn’t work- and that is never taking a risk at all.
In the list of traits of successful entrepreneurs, perhaps the most omitted is empathy. Far from the touchy-feely-ness commonly associated with the word, empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
An entrepreneur’s job, in my view, is to organize resources in the form of a business in order to create value for their customers. It’s crucial to empathize with your customers and employees, at the very least. Without empathy, you are doomed to create products and services that nobody wants with people who don’t want to create them.
It’s difficult to be grateful for life’s blessings and achievements if your measuring stick is the person at the top.
This is why high achievers often fail to appreciate what they have. The same quality that makes them successful also causes them to be ungrateful: the ability to set their sights impossibly high and accept nothing short of success.
If you want to be successful and unhappy, always compare yourself to the very best. The secret to being grateful is to compare yourself to those with less, or, even better, to the person you were yesterday.
Is it possible to have too much information when making an important decision?
Colin Powell speaks often about his 40-70 rule. He advises obtaining at least forty percent of the available information, but no more than seventy percent, when making a decision. From there, he says, let your gut make the final call.
According to Powell, having too much information slows down the process and discourages the use of human intuition- a very powerful ability.
His advice explains why “trusting your gut” can either be good or bad advice, depending upon the situation and how much information is known.
Did you ever notice that the most fulfilling moments in life center around creating new things? I often think about trying to spend more time creating (writing, launching, building) as opposed to consuming (reading, watching, playing).
Creation need not be artistic in the traditional sense. Cooking a meal from scratch creates nourishment and enjoyment for yourself and others. When raising a child or mentoring someone, you shape who that person becomes, and what they may someday create.
We are all expert creators in some sense. What have you created today, and what can you create tomorrow?
How do you define effective leadership? After ten years of pondering and practicing, here is my working list:
- Exhibits self-control
- Is fair and just when dealing with other members of the team
- Takes actions that are clear and decisive
- Follows a plan
- Is willing to put in extra work to get the job done
- Maintains a positive outlook
- Has a pleasant personality
- Shows empathy and understanding for others
- Has a strong knowledge and command of required skills
- Takes responsibility for team failures
- Gives due credit for team successes
- Leads through shared interest and cooperation, as opposed to force
- Starting your own business
- Cooking a homemade meal from fresh ingredients
- Writing a book
- Climbing a mountain
- Shopping local
- Receiving a steady paycheck from an employer
- Frozen TV dinners
- Binge watching Breaking Bad on Netflix
- Hitting the Stairmaster
- Free 2 day shipping
Convenience is the lens through which we view everyday decisions. Therefore, the inconvenient alternative is rarely chosen. However unfortunate, this rarity creates an opportunity for you.
It happens that the most rewarding experiences in life are almost never convenient, so try doing at least one inconvenient and rewarding thing each day and watch what happens.
Connecting outcomes to beliefs
When something bad happens to you, instead of criticizing, ask: What actions led to this outcome?
What decision led to those actions?
What was the thinking behind the decision?
What emotions gave rise to that line of thought?
Finally, what core belief do you hold that triggered the emotions which inspired the thoughts that led to decisions and actions, and ultimately a result?
The inner work of tracing outcomes through this chain of consciousness back to our core beliefs is difficult and important. It is also a necessary step towards turning our deepest desires into reality.
The best thing to have when launching a business is hunger. We are at our best when our back is up against the wall. When we burn our boats the only path forward is to succeed.
The worst thing to have is too much money. Excess capital is the enemy of creative problem solving. As soon as we get cash in our business accounts, we lose that MacGyver-esque ability to bend the universe to our will.
Want to succeed? Dare to set impossibly ambitious goals with unbelievably limited resources.
How dare you… play it safe.
How dare you… listen to naysayers.
How dare you… make excuses.
How dare you… take no for an answer.
How dare you… accept the wisdom of the crowd.
How dare you… keep knowledge and wisdom to yourself.
How dare you… regret what you didn’t do.
When you give up on a dream, you don’t just let yourself down, you let the rest of us down. You owe it to the universe to lay it all out on the table. Are you going to put that off until tomorrow? How dare you.