Entrepreneurs are unique breed. We spend our lives working through challenges, pushing ourselves through barriers, and figuring out how to succeed. During these uncertain times in dealing with the Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I feel entrepreneurs are needed now more than ever to help the world.
It is important that we also stick together and help each other as best as possible. Aside from doing the weekly Misfit Entrepreneur, I wanted to share 3 actions my partners and I are doing across our businesses as it may help you in yours and with those around you.
First, we are doing our best to take care of all employees and our customers. We are helping our employees with everything they need to work from home, give them timely resources to stay safe, and support their individual needs during this time. For our clients, we are doing all we can to help them both financially and with our products and solutions. We are evaluating everything we can do and give to them while making sure to keep ourselves viable and stable for them. And, anywhere we can give our resources to help them, we are doing so for minimal cost or free if possible.
Second, we are evaluating all plans and strategies and adjusting them as needed, but also positioning ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities when this situation ends. Make no mistake, on the other side of this will be one of the best environments to gain market share and grow a business in our lifetimes and we need to be prepared. For example, while others are pulling back in all areas of their business, we are pushing forward with marketing and sales and making sure that we are the solution clients go to when they are ready. We will be uniquely positioned for when things turn around. Look for ways to have your business ready for when things get back to normal.
Lastly, I am doing my best to be a resource and voice of reason to those around me and help them through things as best as I can. Now is not a time for emotional decisions or to let emotions run our daily lives. There is a place for it, but it is most important to use logic and reason in your decision making and in your interactions with others. Make no mistake, this will be hard as things most likely will get worse before they get better, but it is the right way to approach it. Remember, the way you think directly impacts you actions and results. You must think clearly at this time.
This situation is "once in a lifetime" situation, but it will pass and entrepreneurs will be there to lead the world back and help in many ways. It is what we were made for and it is what we are called to do.
Books are plentiful. Everybody is writing one these days. But, every once in a while something comes along that really separates itself from the crowd and can make a real different in your life and success. If you are looking for a book that will not only educate, but also enlighten you and help you to truly think in new ways, I suggest reading one or all of these 5 books in 2020.
1.) Redefine Impossible by James Lawrence
James is also know as the Iron Cowboy because, well he is seemingly tougher than iron. James was the guy who came up with the crazy idea of doing 50 full Ironman Triathlons, in 50 states, in 50 days. And he did. As a frame of reference, a full Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a marathon. Could you imagine doing 50 back to back and traveling every night across the country doing them on 5-6 hours sleep? James book tells the story, but more importantly shares deeply everything he went through internally and externally to reach this goal. It will make think much bigger about what is possible for you.
2.) The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather
What could be crazier than being a lone wolf fighter against the Nazi army at it's fiercest? Volunteering to go into Auschwitz death camp to try and bring it down from the inside. That is exactly what Witold Pilecki volunteered to do in 1940 years before the camp was liberated. He spent 2.5 years in the camp before his escape. This books shows us what the human spirit is capable of at it's best (and worst). It is painstakingly researched and real. This is true hero story. Warning: It does not sugarcoat what happened in Auschwitz, so be prepare to get a full view of the atrocities.
3.) Innovation on Tap by Eric B. Schultz
I had Eric on the show and really enjoyed my time with him. I enjoyed his book just as much as it explores and shares some of the greatest entrepreneur stories of U.S. history and brings them to life in the setting of the entrepreneurs sitting at a bar swapping their stories together. It is a great, inspirational read that will help you to think in more innovative ways.
4.) Everybody Always by Bob Goff
If you think you know what love is, I challenge you to read this book and learn from the adventures of Bob Goff. He truly is an amazing individual and has more in his life than most people can dream of - all in the name of goodness and love. This book will help you understand the true contribution that is possible for you to make in this world and after reading, you'll have no choice but to get started doing it.
5.) Augmented by Brett King
Brett was also a guest on the show and his work as a futurist and in the technology space, especially in the new age of banking is profiled all over the world. In Augmented, Brett shows what the future looks like with the technologies being created today. He also shows you how you can take advantage and set yourself and business up to prosper in the rapidly changing world over the next decade. You'll be amazed at what is possible and already being done in this world.
Fears of the spread of the Coronavirus are taking hold and it is very important for entrepreneurs to keep up to date on what is happening, but not for the reasons you may think.
While the Coronavirus is slowly evolving from an epidemic to a pandemic, the real worry for entrepreneurs should not so much be the virus itself. In fact, to put things in perspective, the common flu in the just the U.S. this year will kill more people than the trend that the Coronvirus is currently on. While any loss of life or sickness is not to be taken lightly or discounted, it is important to understand the Coronavirus is not as deadly as the common flu - at least not yet.
The bigger worry for entrepreneurs is the impact the virus will have on commerce and the ability run a business. China is the world's factory and it is currently shut down. Companies are very quickly running of inventory and the ability to produce their products because of it. In fact, companies like Land Rover are a week away from shutting down and are forced to have to go to China and bring parts back in suit cases.
The longer the virus goes and grows in China, the bigger impact it will have on commerce. Companies will begin to sell less and/or have to shut down - not because there isn't any demand for their products, but simply because there are no products to sell.
This is why you see the stock market pulling back. Investors are positioning for lower earnings in the future for companies because companies are not going to be able to sell as much product and thus have lower earnings.
But, there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs. As the fear grips the world, level-headed entrepreneurs can grow. Now isn't the time to pull-back in your business, it is a time to push forward. If you manufacture everything in China, you are going to be hurt, but you can also learn from this experience and set up back-up manufacturing facilities in other areas of the world. This is NOT easy by any means, but for those willing to persevere and work through it, the benefits long-term will help them and make them stronger. During this period, it is also the time to double down on marketing and sales. While you competition may be pulling back, you can gain market share and grow. Many of the great companies that exist today, started during the Great Depression. Companies like Proctor and Gamble, Hewlett-Packard, and Allstate, all started during the roughest economic time in U.S. history.
The Coronavirus, is going to impact business over the next year; there is no doubt - but this period of time offers great opportunity for entrepreneurs and for them to use their success to do good and maybe help people affected by the virus. Make the most of it!
Rejection is part of being an entrepreneur, but even the strongest entrepreneurs can reach the end of the rope after a long string of rejections. It's at that point that you need inspiration and perspective. So, in that spirit. Take a look at the notices below. These are all rejection notices from VC's when the founders of AirBNB were starting out. They were trying to raise just $150k on a valuation of $1.5 million meaning that $150k investment would have give the investor a 10% stake in the company. I bet these guys wished they had gotten their 10% now!
The next time you deal with a string of rejections, just remember what the founders of AirBNB went through over the course of almost a year before someone took a chance on them. Your time will come if you just keep pushing!
The little things matter. In fact, many times, it is the littlest of things that can make the biggest difference in our success. This is one thing I've learned in hosting the Misfit Entrepreneur. It's amazing how the little details can make such a big difference. But, the trick is that the little details are only important in the context of going after something truth big and worthwhile.
Most people think small. In fact, most don't think beyond the next 10 minutes in their lives - especially in the instant gratification world we live in. And for most this is just fine. But, for some of us, it's not. We want to do big things, make tremendous impacts, and have our chance at potentially changing the world around us.
To do that, we have to think BIG and thinking BIG is an art unto itself. Here are 3 things I've learned in my life on how to truly think big.
The first step to thinking big or bigger than you do now is to stop thinking. Wait, what? In order to think big, you need to get your mind out of the way and out of the day to day and let it wander. We get so bogged down, by the minute by minute things in our lives that they consume our thoughts throughout the day. In order to get to a place where you can think big, you have to get out of that day to day and let your mind have the ability to go big and look at life, the world, business, etc. without the distractions. In order to do this right, you need to schedule the time for it. I suggest at least 4 hours a week and in one block where you don't let yourself be interrupted. For example, every Friday from 1pm-5pm or whatever works in your schedule.
The second step in thinking big or bigger is to change your state and location. If you schedule your 4 hours and do it at the desk you do your work from all week long, your brain will not focus on the bigger things. It will instead do what it's been trained to do at your desk - work on the day to day and those things that you do at your desk. If you truly want to give your mind the opportunity to think bigger. You have to change your state and location. By changing your state, I mean getting out of anything that resembles your normal day to day. And by location, I mean doing this in a place that you don't normally work. It could be going to a park and splitting time between walking trails and writing in a journal. Or going to the library and grabbing a room with a white board. Whatever you do, do not do your "thinking big time" in the same place and state where you work daily.
The third step is to keep track and share it with others that think big as well. Keep a journal of your ideas and what happens in your weekly sessions. Take some time to review it each week before you begin your thinking time. Be open to sharing it with those that think big like you as well. Better yet, schedule separate time with them to have a thinking session together and share your ideas and discuss them.
Remember, everything begins with an idea. Every business begins with an idea. The United States began with an idea. Ideas are what change the world. And those ideas come from brains like yours thinking big, so take the time to let your brain do what it was designed to do - Think BIG!
I have always thought that kids are a wonderful source of wisdom and lessons for life. It is their innocence and truthfulness that shines through without a filter that, whether they realize it or not, teaches some of the greatest lessons.
Recently, my 7-year old daughter reminded me of this. Each day in her class at school, they write in their "Gratitude Journals." And as you can expect, normally you see things like "I'm grateful for recess" or "I'm grateful for candy" and things like that. But, every once in a while, it's like Aristotle takes over and some amazing wisdom comes out. Or in my daughter's case, maybe God was speaking through her to all of us.
Here is what she wrote:
I am happy for who I am because it is not right to pretend who you are really not. If I was not me, I would not like singing and I would change. If you pretend who you are really not; then at some point, somebody will find out who you really are. It is important to be yourself. It is really important to be your self.
I love being myself. Yourself, you are great. You are strong. You are brave. You are perfect the way you are. You know, you should be proud of who you are.
My dad says all the time, “I love who you are.” He says that all the time. Just be you. And when you find out, you will feel proud. I am happy to be who I am and I will never change.
You know, you are amazing. You are cool. You are lovely. You will never change. You should love who you are. I love who I am. Do you love who you are? Because you should love who you are. I am grateful for who I am.
Seriously, my kid just mic-dropped on me. Aside from the absolute "proud dad" moment I had when I read this, I was choked up. I could not deliver this message as simple and elegant as that. As parents we all know that our kids are "always listening," but we often wonder if they truly hear what we say. To know my daughter has heard this message and believes it for herself is an amazing milestone in our lives.
Please share this life-changing wisdom from a 7-year old with those in your life!
Entrepreneurship is full of peaks and valleys, Most of the time, the valleys are larger, longer and take longer to go through than it does to get to a peak.
But, it's worth it. For all the grueling work, challenges, setbacks, emotional toil, and everything that comes along with going through a valley, when you make it through and get to your next peak, it makes it all the more worth it. I see it like a game. A game of fortitude and perseverance that tests us at every level. And each time we power through, we hit a new peak...enjoy it for a short time, and then get ready to fight through the next valley. After all, this cycle of peaks and valleys is one of the biggest things we sign up for in our lives when we make the decision to become entrepreneurs.
But, how do you power through? How do continue to keep going through each valley that is seemingly bigger than the next? I'll admit that there is no step by step formula and each of us will have to find the things that work best for us. But, I have found a few things I think are key for any entrepreneur to be able to power through their valleys.
First, you must have a long-term perspective or learn to take a long-term perspective. Because we never know how long a valley can and will last and we need to have the right perspective, long-term thinking is critical. The best entrepreneurs focus on the long game because they know, at minimum, they can outlast their competition with that view. Every valley you go through in your entrepreneurial journey will be different than the last and will require you to figure out how to overcome it. If you don't take a long-term view, you will become frustrated to quickly and have a bigger chance of giving up. Just know that each day you focus on getting one step closer to overcoming the challenges of the current valley, you are getting one step closer to your next peak. Trust in yourself and have a long-term view.
Second, get and keep yourself in great mental and physical shape. You will need it to power through. Each valley's challenges will test you. They will test your emotions, your mental fortitude and your physical ability to keep going with the burden on your shoulders. By keeping yourself in great mental and physical shape you will be ready for things that come your way and you will have the energy and ability to keep going when you have to. Have a great routine for your mental and physical fitness is also a great outlet for stress and to give you a break from each valley's daily challenges.
Third, resolve to endure. One of my favorite scenes from The Dark Knight (Batman) is when Bruce Wayne decides to turn himself in to meet the Joker's demands and Alfred tells him to "endure and take it" (clip below)
This is great example of a valley that Bruce Wayne was going through as Batman and the best advice from someone who knew him his whole life was to "endure and take it." He ultimately does and you know how it goes from there. He goes through a lot of pain, but he defeats the Joker coming out on top.
It's the same in our valleys. We must resolve to endure. To take it. We must continue to take it until we no longer have to because we've conquered it. This may be the biggest secret. It's more than never giving up. It's more than never giving in. It's that place that no one else dares to venture because it is too hard. It is too much. It's when we steady ourselves and commit to going through these times when we reach our biggest breakthroughs, our biggest peaks.
Put all three together with whatever else you know you need to do when you hit an entrepreneurial valley and you'll power through.
Last week, in Part 1 of this article series, I detailed out the story of a conversation I had with an Olympic hopeful about performance and how we isolated one major thing that was holding him back. Click Here to Read Part 1.
To continue the story. Once he asked the magic question, "How do I overcome this?" I gave him some simple, yet powerful things he can do (and has already said they are making a difference). First, I asked him to tell me what he really believed about his ability to succeed. I asked him deep down if he really thought he could be an Olympian. He told me that up until recently, he wasn't sure, but he had done some serious soul searching and truly believed he could do it. This is step one to overcoming issues with the subconscious. What you believe becomes your reality, so if you don't believe you are destined for success, you simply won't succeed. And it needs to be a deep unshakable belief. So, first, get clear on what you believe.
Because, he had already done the deep work, the next part was easy. I asked if him if he was able to determine what he believed, if he realized that that means he can control what he believes and thinks. I told him he has all the power. He stopped for a second and said, "You are right, but how do I make it a habit." "Easy," I said, just practice Stop, Ask, Choose. He looked at me a little confused. I asked him, "When you start to feel anxiety, you know it right? It doesn't just happen and you don't know it is going on. You are conscious to it." He said, "Of course I know." To which I said, "Great! When you feel it happening, Stop yourself in the moment, Ask yourself if this is the feeling or belief you want to have in that moment, and then Choose to keep it or change it to the feeling you want to have." That is how you begin to re-train the subconscious to replace the negative response with the response you want it to have.
He thought about it for a minute and then said, "I get it and it totally makes sense. It is so simple. But, how do I make sure it sticks and creates a new response from the subconscious all the time." My answer was that he would need to continue practicing Stop, Ask, and Choose and eventually over time, it would change the response. But, in the meantime, he will still feel some anxiety, even though he can now recognize it and change it. I told him the other thing he could do is create a trigger that associates the feeling of calm that he has before his best races. It could a phrase, a simple thought, or even a physical gesture (except the one you are thinking about right now!). Every time he is in that place of calm, he needs to recite the phrase, thought, or gesture to associate it with the positive feelings and success he has in that state. So, for example, if when he is his calm state, he decides that he wants to fold his hands, that will be his trigger. And he will fold his hands every time he is in that state to associate folding his hands with it.
Then, when or if the anxiety feeling shows up, all he has to do is fold his hands in that specific way to trigger the feeling of calm. Triggers are a secret of many top performing athletes, but they can be used just the same for you in all areas of your life and business.
At that point, things really clicked for him. He realized the following:
At the end of the day, all that was needed was for him to get out of his own way and put his mind in check. Together, we figured that out in about 15-20 mins. And you can do the same for yourself. Follow the same process: Determine what you believe, Choose the thoughts you want to have, and Associate the positive to something you can use to trigger it in your life. Once you learn this process, you can continuously coach yourself to higher levels of success and achievement.
Sometimes the best conversations come in the most unlikely places.
I was recently at my fitness center, which is a world class center with an Olympic pool, etc. A lot of the top athletes from the area train there - Pro-Athletes, Top College Athletes, other Ironman competitors that I train with, and even a few Olympic hopefuls.
After finishing a training session the other day, I was happy to find myself with time to spend 10-15 minutes in the sauna (a great benefit to your body after a training session). One of the Olympic hopefuls for swimming, who I've spoken with from time to time, happened to be in there and we got to chatting.
I asked him how things were looking as he is getting into race season and readying for the Olympic trials in early summer. He explained how physically he was in a good place and was starting to focus more on studying the times when he races his best to get more of an edge. I asked him to tell me more and he detailed how the best races he has are when he feels calmest before the race - almost at peace. I listened and asked, "Isn't that how you feel for most races at this point?" Ironically, he said "No." He went on to talk about how he has always had an issue where gets anxiety before races and at times it has derailed him from performing at his best.
Now, I swim a lot in training for Ironman racing and I've seen this guy workout in the pool - he's the prototype, Michael Phelps like swimmer with perfect technique, everything. Physically, he's as good as anyone trying out for or going to the Olympics. Right away, I could tell that this challenge of anxiety weighs on him and something he knows he needs to overcome to be his best...so I dug in a little and asked him to tell me more.
After several rounds of questions, we finally got to the cause. When he was in his early teens and an up and coming swimming phenom in the area, he wrote down some pretty lofty goals of what he wanted to do and the times that he wanted to reach as a swimmer - even at a young age. When he showed them to others that he respected and were close to him, instead of building him up and giving him encouragement, they shot him down. They told him that those goals were too big and that he should be more realistic. And, of course, after getting that feedback, when he didn't reach the goals he had put down that year, he developed a set of beliefs around what was possible for him that got cemented into his subconscious.
So, ever since, when he gets to the moment of the major race, the one in which he knows he can have a breakout performance, he feels the anxiety. I told him that I expect it is his subconscious drawing on that conditioning from years ago from that specific incident that still haunts him. His subconscious is giving him anxiety because if he really goes for it and fails like he did when he was in his early teens it will be another, "I told you so" moment for him. Another failure for those he respected to see and cement that he can't reach his lofty goals. Essentially, his subconscious is sabotaging his ability to break out - even though he is basically an Olympic-level swimmer!
When I said this, he paused and then asked me the magic question, "Then, how do I overcome this?"
I'll cover that in Part 2, but the BIG lesson you should learn to this point is that your subconscious, your mind, most often is the biggest obstacle to your success. And many times, it sabotages us without us even realizing it. This Olympic hopeful had this specific incident rattling around in his mind haunting him for over a decade and has still yet to release himself from it's impact on him. That is how powerful the mind is.
In Part 2, I'll cover how, in about 15 minutes, we worked through this and he now has the tools to help him overcome this debilitating influence in his life.
I love history. Aside from the fact that it is enjoyable to learn about the incredible things that have happened in the short span of human history; there are incredible lessons and amazing wisdom that you can apply to your life and business. History holds a lot of the answers that you seek in life.
With that said, I've pulled some of my favorite quotes the WWII battlefield that apply to entrepreneurship and want to share them with you.
1.) "…we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…" - Winston Churchill
2.) "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." - FDR
3.) "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking." - Gen George Patton
4.) “Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.” - Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower
5.) "Which would your men rather be, tired, or dead? - German Gen Erwin Rommel
6.) "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. - Pastor Martin Niemoller
7.) “Nuts!” - Army Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe
He led the 101st Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge. The Americans were outnumbered, surrounded, and running short on supplies when a German delegation requested their surrender. McAuliffe was awoken with the news and sleepily responded “Nuts!” before heading to meet his staff who had to draft the formal response to the German commander. The staff decided that the general’s initial response was better than anything they could write. While under siege and near constant attack, the paratroopers typed the following centered on a sheet of paper:
December 22, 1944 To the German Commander, N U T S ! The American Commander
8.) "It is fatal to enter a war without the will to win it." - Gen Douglas MacArthur
9.) "Live for something rather than die for nothing." - Gen George Patton
10.) “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” - Winston Churchill
Each of these quotes holds a great lesson and wisdom for entrepreneurs and business leaders in general. Think on them and decide what they mean to you!
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