I recently read the article linked to below from the CEO of Foundr magazine, Nathan Chan, about the many lessons he learned in creating Foundr over the last 5 years.
From Novice to CEO of a Multi-Million Dollar Media Company: 37 Lessons from 5 Year of Building Foundr
I urge you to read the article as all of the lessons are good, but here are the Top 5 that I think are most important and why you should embrace them in your life and entrepreneurial journey.
#7: Your best ideas are the ones that keep coming back to you.
You’re not going to come up with a genius idea on the spot. It has to keep coming back to you, and you have to mull over it like a good glass of red wine and let it sit with you before you execute on it.
I wholeheartedly agree with this. It is the ideas that keep burning a hole in your mind and that you can't get rid of that end up being the best, no matter how crazy they sometimes sound.
#12: It takes 7-10 years to build anything of true worth and significance.
Any company that you truly admire took over a decade to build. I’m prepared to play the long game with Foundr.
As I've written about and spoken about many times, it comes down to the DCP formula. Discipline. Consistency. Persistence. If you have those day in and out for years, you will win. You will outlast. And you will flourish.
#14: Never rely on one single customer acquisition channel.
At Foundr, I’m always extremely cautious of dominating one channel, and always work to layer in more over time. For us, first it was Instagram, then it was email, then it was podcasts, then it was organic SEO and blog, now it’s PPC (pay-per-click advertising) and soon YouTube. The more channels we can use to generate a significant amount of traffic, the less risk we face.
The more comfortable you get and more reliant you get on one thing that works is great, until it doesn't work anymore. In today's world, that can change in an instant. Whole businesses can be decimated seemingly overnight (Remember, Kodak?). You must always be on the hunt for and willing trying to new channels to grow your reach and customer base.
#18: Your business lives and dies by cash flow.
It’s the oxygen of your startup, especially if you’re bootstrapping and not using someone else’s money to survive. You always need to make this a focus in order to build a sustainable business.
I confess that I have had trouble getting along with the CFOs/Accountants we have had in our businesses over the years because of exactly this. Cash is king and is what matters. No matter how good your business looks on paper or from an "accrual" accounting standpoint, you cannot stay in business without cash paying the bills. Therefore, much to the dismay and frustration of my CFOs and Accountants over the years, I have always focused on cash and challenged the health of our businesses (and thus by default challenged the analysis of the CFO and/or Accountant) when things look good on paper, but I can see cashflow challenges not being focused on. It has served me and the business well and kept us alive in the hard times. Cash is king.
#26: The smartest entrepreneurs reduce risk and maximize upside however they can.
One thing my mentor Mitch Harper taught me is to always reduce risk however you can. This is something I obsess over now when it comes to making critical business decisions. How can I stack the deck in our favor on both sides of the table?
Contrary to belief, the best entrepreneurs are not huge risk takers. They take calculated, asymmetrical risks. That means that for the little bit of risk they do take, the reward is exponentially higher. They also look at all the angles and look for how they can still succeed, even if the risk doesn't pan out or fails. You should always be looking at the whole picture and for how you can get massive upside for a small amount of risk.
BONUS! #37: To build a successful business, it has to be an obsession.
You have to want it so badly and you have to be prepared to do the work.
Last week, we had an amazing group of entrepreneurs at the Grow Thrive Revive event that Evan Money and I hosted. While, we did a lot of teaching, there was plenty to learn from the group as we all worked together to help each entrepreneur put a plan in place to double their business over the next year.
Here are some of the best takeaways that you can use in your life and business.
My first takeaway is how amazing it is to watch someone become aware to a concept and "get it." Their eyes light up. Their passion grows larger. And they have a new sense of empowerment. Knowledge is power and when you get a group of hungry entrepreneurs in a room and get them out of their day to day allowing them to thinking bigger, it is amazing what can happen. We had breakthroughs happening every hour. It was incredibly energizing. My advice to you is to find a group of entrepreneurs or other people in your field and meet with them regularly to discuss the bigger picture and the possibilities for your life.
Second, we had one of the original founders of Billabong-Hurley speak to the group. He gave some amazing wisdom, but one point really stood out to me. He said that when business owners are asked what the most important asset is in their business, they typical say "their people." He clarified and made an important distinction. He said "the most important asset is the RIGHT people." I could not agree more. Make sure that you are choosing the right people or partners for you business. Be picky and make sure they truly align. These decisions can be one of the biggest determinants of your success.
Third, Evan and I covered a number of topics that we have talked together about before, but it is amazing how I still learn things. Evan gave a talk about the power of real reciprocity and said something very important. He said that you should strive to "'do things for others that they couldn't or wouldn't do for themselves." And what he meant is that you have capabilities and connections that others don't have. Use them for good and help others - but don't expect anything in return. Just do what is right and helpful. To me, this is so important because most people want a quid pro quo for helping others, especially in business. You'll get much further along in life if you focus on others and help them reach their potential, than focusing on yourself.
Lastly, believe in yourself and give yourself permission to be great. A lot of people go through life seeking permission to be who they are from outside influences when they already know what they need to do or be. They just want confirmation that many times they never get. Just remember, it is not what you get that makes you valuable, it is what you become through finding and unleashing your best self that does. I think everyone who attended became a better version of themselves last week, including Evan and I. And that is all you can hope for.
"Dave, you coach individuals throughout the world and your own companies helping them with their biggest challenges, why do you need a coach?"
It was great question and one of the easiest I've ever answered. Below is a list of all the reasons I hire the top coaches and mentors I can find each and every year.
How about you? Do you have a coach? If not, why not? If it is because of cost and you don't think you can afford to spend the money, then you are damaging your potential. Besides, if you can't afford a coach, what is going to change to make you be able to afford one, without getting help to get you to a place where you can? If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got. Maybe it's worth the investment in yourself to carry a little credit card debt or borrow a few bucks for a short period while you learn what you don't know and then use that to take yourself to a whole new level in your life. I did for my first coach years ago and what I learned paid me back 500x over. Just remember that the most important thing with any coach or training is to put what you learn into action, otherwise you are wasting your time and your mine.
If you are a high performer or hold yourself to a high standard, you have no doubt had to deal with times where you "felt" the pressure was too much. You may have had times when you just wanted to walk away from things and not deal with them. Or times when you just didn't know how you were going to make it through everything.
What you may not realize is the pressure you feel... The pressure to be the best. The pressure to do it all. The pressure to achieve more because you feel guilty that you haven't accomplished more...is self-inflicted.
And this is OK. This self-inflicted pressure can very good for us and our success. Diamonds don't exist without intense pressure. But, one of the secrets of consistent, high performers, is that they have learned to control this pressure and the emotions it brings in their lives.
I think one of the greatest showcases in life of the pressures of high achievers is the Olympics. Think about it. You get one shot to be the best - and it comes once only every 4 years. And make no mistake, every one of the athletes wants to be on the very top of that podium.
Imagine training for 4 years of your life and devoting every extra second you have, every emotion, and every ounce of energy to perfect your craft - and then you get one shot. That's it. If you don't make it happen, it is over. And for many athletes, they only make it to one Olympic games. Think about just the pressure of making it to the games in the first place. Now, being a high performer yourself and understanding the pressure you put on yourself, imagine the additional pressure these athletes self-inflict.
That is why it is always so amazing to watch the games and see the incredible stories of people that win. Some are dark horses that come out of nowhere and have that one perfect moment where they excel to levels higher than they ever have. Others start out with a mistake, but one not bad enough to knock them out of qualifying and then they win it all. And then there is that other group - the group that has the most pressure. These are the favorites and the people that have been to multiple Olympics and won. These people have the added pressure in that EVERYONE EXPECTS them to win. Think of people like Michael Phelps, Shaun White, or Usain Bolt.
These are the high performers that I love to watch and learn the most from because they have figured out how to control the pressure and use it to their advantage. You can too. Here's how.
High Performers are Self-Aware
Self-awareness is one of the most important traits for consistent success. Understanding yourself and how your mind and body operate together is critical to maximize your peaks and reducing your valleys. High performers know themselves and understand the pressure that they put on themselves is self-inflicted. It is this understanding that helps them to embrace, use it, and ultimately control it. A great example was this year’s snowboard half-pipe where Shaun White was in a big lead after the first of three rounds, only to be upstaged by a dark horse in round two falling into 2nd place. Shaun had a small crash in round two that made it a throwaway run. Then came round three. Shaun was last in the order to go and had to sit and watch while most of the other competitors fell because of windy conditions. Then the dark horse came up and fell as well.
Think about what is going through his mind at this moment. After round one, it looked like he had the gold wrapped up. No one was even close. Then, in round two this kid comes out of nowhere to unseat you with a higher score. You fall in round two and have only one more shot. Not to mention, you at 31, are the oldest by far in the Olympics in the sport and there is a good chance this is your last Olympics. You then have to wait, watching the conditions gets worse and most of the best in the world fall in the final run. Pressure anyone? But, if you watched it unfold, you could see Shaun’s self-awareness kick in. He didn’t change his routine for how he goes about a run. He did the same fist bumps and head shakes he does before each run. He settled in and as he started out, looked completely at peace. He was smooth off the drop in and nailed his first trick. I think at that point just about everyone watching knew that he was going to nail the run and win gold – which he did.
Self-awareness and understanding how to control your emotions and use them to your advantage is a must develop skill if you want to consistently outperform. To start doing this in your life, take time to examine your emotions in situations. Sit with your feelings and ask yourself how you are reacting in times of stress. Is it beneficial to you? Can you use it? Do you need to change how you react?
Lastly, always be asking yourself the following question:
How do I want to respond to this pressure/challenge/adversity?
When you are self-aware, you control your responses and thus your outcomes. Choosing how you will respond and not just reacting to things in life gives you true personal power and will ensure that you consistently succeed.
Sometimes you just need a good message. Something to fire you up, motivate you, and give you perspective. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes to get you going and inspire you!
Without a good question, a good answer has no place to go...
Many sales that could happen, never do because the right questions aren't asked. Being a great salesperson takes a number of things. Focused, results driven activity, attention to detail, relationship building, the ability to read people and personalities, etc. One of the most important, or perhaps THE most important is the ability to ask the right questions.
But, what are the right questions? There are so many you can ask! Every prospect is different. Every industry is different. My products are unique. You get it.
After 20 years of leading sales organizations and growing companies, I have found there are 5 critical questions that should be used throughout the sales process. These questions will help you not only focus on the sales with the most potential, but help you to close more of these deals.
Question #1, The Qualifying Question
Nothing is more frustrating than putting in a bunch of time working with a client, running around fulfilling requests, putting together proposals, and everything else in-between, and then having the prospect not make a decision. Or worse yet, finding out they never had an intention of making a decision in the first place. They were just "gathering information."
But how do you know if a prospect is in serious buying mode or just wasting your time? Before you start running around doing what could be a bunch of unnecessary work and wasting your time, ask them this question, "What is your deadline for making a decision?" It is a simple, but powerful question. First, you are using the word deadline which is powerful in that by it's nature, it is a set date in time. Never use "time-frame," because time frames are expandable. But a deadline is not, it is locked in. Second, this question allows the prospect to reveal the nature of their request. If they don't have a deadline (ie "We want to make a decision in the next month, etc"), and say they don't know, you know that they are not buying. By all means, give them some info, find out when they might be looking to by, but don't spend a bunch of time outside of that. This question will save you countless hours and help you narrow down the prospects who are serious buyers in your pipeline.
Question #2, The Onion Question
We are not really talking about onions here, but we are peeling them back. Most sales people ask a question, get an answer and don't go any further. And they wonder why they don't get the sale. You have to peel back the onion and get to the root of the issues, needs, and wants of a prospect. That means asking 2nd, 3rd, 4th level questions and so on.
And the best way to do that is simple. Ask them, "What else?" Or "And what else?" You have to get where you understand THEIR ideas, because it is their ideas that sell the product or service - not yours. Understanding a deep level will give you this and you can simply discuss how what you are providing aligns with their ideas.
Question #3: The Problem Question
Once you have a done good job of getting all of a prospect's ideas and thoughts in a subject, wouldn't be nice to know which challenge you discussed is the most important - the real problem that needs solved?
You can get to it with this question, "Out of all the challenges mentioned, which one is the real challenge for you?" The key here is the "for you." You are smart enough to know you should be talking to the decision maker and if you are, you are bringing it home for them. Putting it right squarely on their sole reason for talking to you. It's time to find out what the most important thing is and asking the question in this way will give it to you.
Question #4: The Nirvana Question
Most salespeople focus on "what a prospect needs" instead of "what a prospect wants." Look, if your product can't satisfy what a prospect needs, you are in the wrong business. Solving needs should be looked at like the bare minimum. Finding out what a prospect truly wants, their grand vision - their "Nirvana," and then showing them how you can help them make it a reality, is where the magic happens and sales superstars are made.
You can do this by asking this question, "What do you truly want out of this solution? What does the perfect world look like for you?" You should quickly follow in saying, "I'm not sure if we can give it to you exactly as you describe it, but I'd sure love to hear what it is so we can try!" This does a few things. First, you get them thinking of something bigger, something that excites them, and second, you are not committing to it, but you are showing that you are willing to work with them toward it - to be a true partner. This shows them that you are more than just "trying to sell them something" and puts you into a different category vs. the competition.
Question #5: The Differentiator Question
So, let's say you go through the whole process and for whatever reason, the prospect decides not to buy. We all wish we could have a 100% close rate, don't we?? Two things to always remember, first "No, means not yet." and second, "the fortune is in the follow up." Most sales people, move on from a great prospect when they get a no. To them, that is the end, when in reality, it is not.
The prospect will continue buying products like yours, so it is your job to stay top of mind for when they are ready. Maybe the solution they bought instead of yours gives them issues 6 months down the road. Or, maybe, they find the service to be terrible. You never know, which is why you need to leave the door open and the way to do that is to ask them, "Can I follow up with you down the road? If so, when?" The last part is most important because this is how prove (if you are disciplined) that you should earn their business. If they tell you "Sure, call me in 6 months," make the note to the day and call them in 6 months. It is this discipline to follow up without fail that will be your big differentiator in the marketplace and win you even more sales over time. Always remember, the fortune is in the follow up!
These 5 questions obviously have their place in different areas of the sales cycle. Start figuring where you can work them into yours. Here's to higher close rates and bigger commission checks!
I've always stayed out of the prediction game. It's a crapshoot and most people forget you even made them after a while. So, it doesn't really matter if you are right or not. Although, if you make enough of them, by dumb luck, you are going to have a few come through. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
For those reasons, I've always shied away, but recently I was being interviewed and the host asked me what I saw coming for entrepreneurs in 2018 - what should they be focused on? I admit, I had to take a minute to think about it before answering. After the interview, it got me thinking a little bit more about the ever-changing landscape of entrepreneurship. I spent some time on it and came up with these
5 predictions of sorts for entrepreneurs in 2018.
Prediction #1: Entrepreneurship Will Replace Traditional "Jobs" as the First Choice of People for Their Work
Why is this important? Ok, this may be a little bold. Jobs aren't going to disappear, but a much larger share of people are realizing that the old industrial world ideas are fading. "Go to school, get a job, work for 40 years, and save, save, save to hopefully retire..." is being replaced by the new world view of entrepreneurship. This view is that because of the internet and the freeing up of people by technology, one can succeed in a very small niche and focus and do it from anywhere in the world. In fact Taylor Pearson writes about this in his book "The End of Jobs" and calls it the realization of the "long tail. The old school "job" is rapidly dying and people are seeing that they can be in much more control of their destiny through entrepreneurship - this is all because entrepreneurship is easier that it has ever been in history. And in 2018, it will continue to get easier.
Prediction #2: The Economy and Stock Market will Continue Their Meteoric Rise in 2018, but After That All Bets Are Off...
Why is This Important? This one is near and dear to me since I have coached traders and investors for almost a decade. Markets go in cycles. These cycles have 4 stages. Disgust, Disbelief, Acceptance, Euphoria. Disgust is typically the market crash (think 2008). People lose big, are disgusted and just want to walk away from it all. Disbelief is the stage of the cycle where the market starts to rally "to the disbelief" of everyone. Everyone is a skeptic. (think 2009-2016). After a while, that disbelief and skepticism gives way to Acceptance. "Gosh, I guess the market really is back. I should invest." (2016-Present). And the last stage is Euphoria. Everything from the past is pretty much forgotten, they are popping champagne corks on CNBC every time the market hits new highs, and suddenly every one is a successful investor. Your hair stylist is giving you stock tips, etc. The market rallies like never before and it seems like it will never stop....until of course, it does - plunging back into the disbelief stage. In my view, we are just getting into Euphoria and it go a while. I would not be surprised for it continue for a couple years - but we are closer to the end of this market run, than the beginning. Remember, stocks markets trade on the future and the earnings they will think companies will have in the future. The recent tax cut in the US is a huge boon to earnings. Without doing anything, just because of tax cuts, companies are getting an over 20% boost in earnings and this will fuel markets into newer and newer highs in 2018. This graphic from Agora shows you how the 20% increase comes to fruition.
So, make your money while you can. Keep a healthy paranoia, build a rainy day fund, and always be prepared. All good things come to an end, but for now enjoy the ride.
Prediction #3: More Businesses Will Become Obsolete and/or Obsolete Before they Even Get Going
Why is this important? Kodak was reduced to rubble in about 3 years from the time the digital camera came out. GE, a 125 year old company, is currently on the ropes and it looks like they may have to break the company up to save it. The speed of change is overwheming and getting even faster. Whole industries are getting turned upside down in just a few years. Uber is the largest transporation company in the world, yet owns no cars or has employee drivers. AirBnB is now the largest hotel company in the world in terms of "rooms" available and they own nothing. Are you prepared for incredibly rapid change in your business? You need to be, because very quickly your business could be obsolete. If you were going to create something that put your current product/service out of business, what would it be? Do it now.
Prediction #4 The Overwhelming Majority of People Are Not Ready for the Changes the World is about to Experience
Why is this important? Because the world and general public are not ready for the monumental change that is happening and will become very evident by end of 2018 Whether, it is in transportation,
AI, Augmentation, or in just about every other industry - You must be ready. The world is on the cusp of a great upheaval where the industrial phase takes it last gasp and dying breath, and the technological age takes full root. If you want to thrive in this world, you have to prepare and be ready for it. I recommend that you read the following two books as a starting point, "Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane" by Brett King and "Our Final Invention" by James Barrat. You'll be shocked at what already exists when it comes to AI, technology, augmentation, and how fast it is all moving.
Prediction #5 Blockchain Will be Adopted on a Mass Scale and Cryptocurrencies Will Become Ever More Prevalent. Governments Will Not be Able to Stop Them.
Why is this Important? Saving the most talked about for last. Technology is disrupting every industry and it is going to cause major issues as large organizations and entities that are stuck in the past come to grips with it. They will fight change until they cannot any longer. It is the nature of large bureaucracies to do so. We will see major disruption in banking and in world currency markets because of this. The current banking system was put in place in the 1940's and then revamped again in the '70's, but I'll spare you the history lesson.
Here is what you need to know. People have figured out that fiat currencies are a depreciating asset (the US dollar has lost over 90% of its value since the 70's) and the banking system has dangers (as we saw in 2008), so naturally, they are looking for an alternative. This is where cryptos come in and will change banking. They already are with the ability to transact in seconds compared to what takes the SWIFT system days for cross-border payments and settlement. And cyptos are not regulated by anything but the free market. No government or central bank has control or can manipulate them. Combine that with that fact that you will be able to pay for more and more with them in 2018 and beyond, and be able to use them universally across the world, and you can see why they are a threat to the old systems.
As I write this, Bitcoin has had a 40% decrease because South Korea is trying to outlaw it. How? How can you stop something that lives across millions of servers all over the world? You can't. In some ways, it is like a virus in that it moves from one server to the next if it encounters issues and keeps itself going (Yes, you cyrpto diehards probably don't like me using that example, but it is true). What about access? You can shut down the access points on the web, can't you? Yes, but every time you shut one down, a new one can spring up. You can see how this carousel is going to go round and round as cryptos threaten the monetary system and government control. Governments will continue to try and stop it, regulate it, etc. and that will cause wild swings in cyrptos, but the technology will win out over time. I advocate owning some crypto. For now, look at it like your casino money that you can afford to lose, but having a little is good idea. I am buying on the major dips like we just saw.
In the end, some form of cryptos will win out because of the underlying technology - Blockchain. And that is the real disruptor. Blockchain will be embraced by companies all over the world for tons of different uses in 2018 and that will further the use of cryptos and change whole industries and the way we do things.
Here is a great article that explains blockchain in an easy way to understand.
If you are interested in cryptos, one of my good friends and original investing mentors, Doc Severson, has put together a ton of free resources on Cryptos for people. You can get them here.
Grit, guts, belief, hard work, smart work, action, and a number of other things are needed on the path to success. But, there are 3 ingredients that I believe are most important and essential. They have been proven time and time again to be the key aspects of the winner's quality.
Each of them by itself makes a major difference, but all 3 together make you unstoppable.
Discipline is your ability to manage yourself and do the things you need to do to succeed and win. It is one of the hardest ingredients for people to do. Discipline takes sacrifice. It takes overcoming your own mind's conditioning, habits, and the inertia of life. It means doing things when you really, really don't want to or feel like doing them - no matter what. Whether you are sick, hurt, on vacation, whatever; your ability to maintain your discipline and routines and what you know you need to do to succeed cannot falter.
It may not sound like fun when described that way, but that is what it takes. And it really is fun. When Michael Phelps got in the pool on Christmas Day for 4 hours of training, he knew that it was this discipline and the actions he was taking right then and there that were the difference at the finish line. The difference between winning and losing. And that energized him and fired him up. How about you? Can you up your game when it comes to your discipline?
The next ingredient goes hand in hand with discipline is consistency. You can be disciplined - for one day. But that isn't going to give your what you need to win. You have to be consistent. Every day. Consistency is what breaks down barriers and wears out competition. It is how you outlast - even if you are not as talented. Those that are consistent in their routines, in the quest, and who they are win. Period.
Ask yourself, "Am I consistent in the way I approach my success? Can I count on myself to always be there and stay the course?" If you are honest with yourself, it may surprise you and also show you some things you may need to change. Just remember, consistency is key to lasting success.
Alongside having solid discipline and an unwavering consistency, you must be persistent. How does being persistent differ from discipline and consistency? Well, discipline is what you you do. Consistency is how you do it. And persistence is your commitment to doing it. As mentioned above, you can be disciplined and consistent for one day, a week, a month, etc. But persistence is your unwavering commitment to keep going in spite of challenge, fear, emotion, and all obstacles that come your way.
Many people can be disciplined and consistent for a short time, but when they come into real, serious adversity, they stop or give in. This is where your commitment, your persistence pays off. You will keep going where others fail or give up.
Have you ever given up on anything? Have you thought and considered what would have happened if you persisted through?
When you put them all together, you can see why they are the critical ingredients they are. If you have discipline to do the things you need to succeed and are consistent each and every day in doing them...and then persist through any adversity that comes up as you are going, you will win. And you will win consistently. Take some time and look at your life and see where you can add more discipline and consistently. And then always remember that when you encounter a challenge, your ability to persist through gets you one step closer to your goal and keeps you winning over and over again.
Throughout the year, I am always looking for standout videos and messages that really make a difference and make you think. I save them and use them at times where I need their message or a little inspiration.
Below are the Top 5 most impactful videos I found to inspire you, make you think, and spur you to action in 2018. I hope they help you as much as they have me throughout this past year. Here's to your success!
Top Video on Mindset and Mental Toughness