You win in your mind first before anywhere else. Your mindset, attitude, and way of approaching everything has the biggest impact on your success. But, even if you understand this, sometimes it is easy to get stuck in a rut or pattern where you are comfortable and don't challenge yourself to up your game and reach higher levels of thinking.
Here are 22 ways to up your mental game and breakthrough to new levels of success in your life.
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.
Kids are some of the best teachers. Seemingly out of nowhere, they will do or say something that is such a great lesson for life, without even realizing it. The innocence of it all makes it that much better.
Take my 5-year old daughter, Hannah, for instance. The other day, we were driving down the road and we got onto a topic of one of the kids in her Tae Kwon Do class that dropped out of the class. She was peppering me with questions as to why this kid had left and wasn't coming back.
We went back and forth for a while (if you are a parent, you know this routine), to where I finally said, "Sometimes people just give up."
Hannah sat in silence for a while as I continued driving. I could see her in the rear view mirror and could tell she was thinking and pondering on the subject. It was total silence for 3-5 mins.
Then, she spoke up. She said, "Daddy, people need to give up on giving up!"
Immediately I smiled in only the way a proud dad can and said, "Honey, you are right. Yes, they do."
It is amazing how one little innocent sentence from a 5-year old can carry so much weight, wisdom, and importance. That one sentence is one that everyone in the world should hear. You need to hear it. You need to give up on giving up.
Is there something that you have given up on or considering giving up on? Why? Can you change your way of thinking and actions so that you can succeed with it? If you are committed to something, then be committed. Go after it with tenacity and tell yourself that giving up is not an option. Make "Give up on Giving Up" you daily mantra and go make it happen!
OK, first off, let me say that this show is disturbing on many, many levels. It is essentially about how far peer pressure, social compliance, and coercion can take an individual. And in the case of this show, which is basically a social experiment and reality show all in one, it is "pushing" someone off the roof of a building and murdering them.
As many of you know, I am a voracious student of the mind, the subconscious, and our conditioning; and as I watched this show to dissect it to truly understand how a normal human being can reach the level of actually considering killing someone - in 1 hour, a number of things dawned on me - some great lessons for both life and business.
First, is how easily we can be manipulated through social pressure to do things. In fact, the opening scene of the show is a tiny experiment to show how easy it is to manipulate someone just by impersonating an authority figure. A total stranger is persuaded to essentially kidnap a child in minutes because they think a well-rehearsed actor, playing a police officer, is real, so they follow the instructions of the "officer."
It was amazing to see how easily it was for someone to impersonate an authority figure under the guise of an emergency and get someone to comply. The lesson I took from this is how readily we can turn over control of our lives - especially in an instant age where things move so fast. We almost forget to stop and think because our minds are moving non-stop. For me, it highlighted the fact of how important it is to practice and work on our emotional intelligence and control over our emotions - being careful not to let them "just run us," but instead choosing whether we let them dictate our reactions and actions.
The next lesson I took from this tiny little experiment is that we must be healthy skeptics. We must, as Thomas Jefferson said even in his time, "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear." Now, my point is not so much about religion, but about the fact that we must not do things blindly or out of fear, and get back to using reason in our lives and business pursuits.
Now, granted the show is a total setup for the target person, with every psychological trigger choreographed ahead of time, it does highlight some very important issues with societal pressures. First, the size of social presence has a huge affect. The bigger the crowd doing something, the more likely most people will go along. For a great example on this (besides watching The Push), check out this video of the "Dancing Guy."
The second thing I took away is how much the need to "fit in" for people can blind us to doing the right thing. The thing we know we should do. There are so many times in the episode where you can see the target of the show agonizing over doing what he knows is right and sometimes even vocalizing it...only to cave and go along with crowd.
Lastly, is something we already all know, but maybe don't necessarily think about - when you proceed in a lie, the deeper you go into it leads to a terribly tangled web that is almost impossible to get out of, eats at you, and impairs your judgement. (Well, only if you have a conscience of any kind).
I urge you, if you watch the show, ask yourself at what point you would stop and not continue to follow the crowd.
My biggest takeaways and lessons for life and business were the following:
The biggest lesson? Stand up for yourself and make a stand to do what you know is right no matter which way the herd or lemmings are going.
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.
Recently, my family escaped the cold northern winter and jetted over to Aulani, Disney's Resort on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It was what you would expect - A top notch resort with all of the Disney charm and magic in one of the most beautiful settings on earth.
We enjoyed all types of fun from scuba diving and cage diving with sharks, to traversing the island and seeing where Jurassic Park was made, and of course, spending lots of time chasing our 5 year-old, Hannah, chasing Disney characters all over the resort.
One evening, we discovered a nightly event the resort puts on where a Hawaiian "Uncle" tells stories by the large fire pit overlooking the ocean and the beach. I'll admit, the first time we attended, I thought it would take about 3 seconds for Hannah to get bored and run off to look for more characters. But I was pleasantly surprised by the "Uncle." He told one of the most engaging and captivating stories I've heard in years and kept the audience on the edge of their seats poised for more, including my 5 year-old. From that point, we made it part of our nightly ritual after dinner to go hear a story. And each time, it was the same result - mesmerizing and captivating.
Storytelling, or I should say good storytelling, it one of the best ways to connect with people. It is
hard-wired in our brains and for much of our evolution, things were passed down through story. So I started to take note of the way each "Uncle" told us their story every night and I noticed these 4 powerful elements that you can use to help engage, mesmerize, and captivate others when telling your story or the story of your business.
1.) Grab Attention Right Away with Something the Audience Does Not Expect
The "Uncle" typically did this by playing a song on a ukulele or by asking the audience if they knew what something was that related to the story they were about to tell. It might have been a Hawaiian term or tradition (which most or all did not know the answer to). This got attention and created curiosity which got people (and 5- year olds) listening. This can also be called a "hook." If you are going to tell a story, think of a way you can grab the audiences attention in a unique way quickly and keep them listening.
2.) Make the Audience Part of the Story
The other thing each "Uncle" did was to find creative ways to make the audiences part of their story. They would do this by either involving them in a song that was sung at opportune times during the story or asking them to point out certain Hawaiian words, or alert them to when they did something while telling the story. This kept the audience engaged and keeping up with the story. When you are telling a story, you should always strive to find ways to have your audience participate and be a part of the story. People support what they help to create and giving people a chance to be a part of that makes them that more excited to listen.
3.) Work the Crowd
This is probably obvious, but if you just stand in one spot and don't engage the crowd in memorable way, you will probably lose them. Each "Uncle" had their own way of working the crowd from going throughout the audience in different areas to jumping up on the lava rocks surrounding the story telling area to even playing the ukulele throughout while going to different areas of the crowd. The lesson here is to make sure you are watching your audience and meeting them where they are to bring them into your story. I would watch each "Uncle" pick out the area of the crowd that had kids that were losing interest and find unique ways to get the kids back into the story. You must do the same with your audience.
4.) Make it an Experience
This was a little easier with the backdrop of Aulani and giant lava rock fire pit, but nevertheless, each "Uncle" did a great job making it a unique experience to listen to them and their story. No two were the same. And no story was ever the same either. When you are telling your story, look at how you can make it a memorable experience. What is the one or two most important points that you want the audience to take and ask yourself how you can make those lasting memories for the audience to take with them.
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!