Lessons I Learned Today 6/1/09 – Maybe Father Does Know Best!

This is a digest and recap of highlights, quotes, and comments from articles and discussions posted on this date on the Applied Entrepreneurship, LinkedIn group site.

 

*Want To Stay Motivated? Avoid Doing These 5 Things by Evan Carmichael

 “Do you have peaks and troughs in your levels of motivation? What do you think the top 5 motivation killers are?

 What would change in your business if your motivation levels were at 100% all of the time?”

 For each motivation killer there is a solution.

  • Getting a Knockback
  • A quiet period
  • Don’t know where you are heading?
  • Pain and Pleasure
  • Fear of Failure

This article provides a nice set of “secrets of keeping high on motivation” to defeat each “motivation killer.”

 

*Behind Every Great Company Is A Great Team – Jim Treliving by Adam Toren

“Jim Treliving is just your average guy who found something he loved and went after it.” Since this article is YoungEntrepreneur.com’s part 3 of 5 in their Canadian Dragons Series, perhaps it is not so surprising the “average guy” is a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who took over the Boston Pizza restaurant chain.

“Treliving is proof positive that you should always keep an open mind and be receptive to new things because your destiny could be waiting for you where you least expect it. For Treliving, his entrepreneurship was awakened when he took his first bite of pizza at Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House in Edmonton, Canada. After reviewing the finances and convincing his father to co-sign a loan, Treliving traded in his badge and job security and bought a Boston Pizza franchise.”

“Some might consider the franchise purchase a rush decision and a gamble, but Treliving was familiar with the company and liked what he saw. He stayed focused and diligent and soon he and his accountant George Melville purchased the entire company. From the very beginning, his motto has been: ‘Think like a customer, deliver outstanding food value and work closely with your partners.’”

“Treliving runs his business with the same attributes learned in his law enforcement career. He is disciplined, tough with establishing streamlined operations and loyal to his team members. ‘The very first thing you need is a good business plan. The second thing is to figure out exactly what will cause your business cash flow to jump to the next level. Then you project your cash flow. And then you sit down and say: this is what I’m going to do, and this is how I’m going to do it. And then you go out and work and work till you get it done. It’s all pretty simple, actually, if you just stop and think about it!’”

 

*Don’t Try To Be Perfect – Anthony Robbins

“’Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want,’ says Tony Robbins. For the past 15 years, Robbins has been doing exactly that. As one of the most celebrated motivational speakers and life coaches in the world, Robbins has come from humble beginnings to rise to the top of his game.”

Tony Robbins has become one of the world’s most recognized authorities in the life coaching industry, as well as being Chairman of five private companies that together generate over half a billion dollars. In typical Robbins style, he says:

“You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make. Forget your past. Who are you now? Who have you decided you really are now? Don’t think about who you have been. Who are you now? Who have you decided to become? Make this decision consciously. Make it carefully. Make it powerfully.”

Some of his other points, in a short article worth reading, are:

  • life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment
  • life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve
  • an entrepreneur’s resolve must be constant and consistent
  • for changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent
  • any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards
  • clearly decide what it is that you’re absolutely committed to achieving
  • take massive action
  • notice what’s working or not
  • continue to change your approach until you achieve what you want, using whatever life gives you along the way
  • all personal breakthroughs being with a change in beliefs

One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.

 

*It comes down to basic skills our moms and dads taught us. Show up early, work hard, be disciplined – Robert Herjavec by Adam Toren

Multi-millionaire, Robert Herjavec, son of Croatian immigrants, grew up poor but overcame the odds. His family’s lack of money was the driving force behind his desire to become an entrepreneur and control his own destiny. “It was about getting away from where my family was. I imagined how much better it would be if we had money.”

After waiting tables at an upscale restaurant by day, he spent much of his evenings working on his technology idea. His first technology company, BRAK Systems, quickly became the leading provider of Internet security software in Canada. BRAK Systems was worth over $100 million when he sold it to AT&T. He could have lived a life of leisure after the sale, but instead became vice president of Ramp Networks, where he was instrumental in its $225 million sale to Nokia.

“Some people need good advice more than they need money. If you keep doing stuff you love to do, the money will follow.”

 

*The Essential Marketing Action Plan by Matthew Toren

What your business is, who your target audience is and how you attract your target market are essential elements to a successful business plan. A marketing plan also enables you to focus your action steps on these key areas.

The key is to create a plan that works for you and will keep your marketing action steps on track. Here are five easy steps to follow to create your successful marketing strategy:

  1. Define Your Market. Describe who your customers are going to be, what types of people are more likely to buy your product or service being as specific as possible in terms of gender, age, occupation, lifestyle, buying habits, etc.
  2. Identify Ways To Attract Your Customers. Identify what sets you apart from your competitors and how you plan to communicate these advantages.
  3. Go Prospecting. Educate the consumer about why your product is better than the others.
  4. Exposure. Think of all the possible ways you can get your message out to your targeted market.
  5. Establish Referrals. Create referral marketing processes that maximize the potential for customer referrals.

Once you have identified your marketing plan, create an annual calendar and put in reminders of the daily, weekly and monthly marketing activities that need to take place to keep your marketing plan on track.

 

*There is no reason not to follow your heart – Steve Jobs by Adam Toren

(Steve Jobs is the winner of the YoungEntrepreneur.com poll “If you could meet one famous entrepreneur, dead or alive, who would it be and why?”)

“You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs

Jobs is CEO of Apple and co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios. He is worth an estimated $3.4 billion as a successful innovator in both the computer and entertainment industries. “To turn really interesting ideas and fledgling technologies into a company that can continue to innovate for years, it requires a lot of disciplines.”

Jobs, according to the “legend,” “dropped out of college and had no money to support himself. He slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, collected soda bottles for the 5 cent return deposit to buy food and walked seven miles every Sunday night to enjoy a hot meal at the Hare Krishna temple.”

Jobs, however, was “pretty good” at innovation. “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it. Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

It is Jobs’ belief that if you give people something of value, they will buy it, regardless of its cost. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation.”

“My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other’s negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people.”

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very, very beginning. And we always will.”

Some of Job’s advice for entrepreneurs is a follows. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. I was lucky – I found what I love to do early in life. Sometimes that first step is the hardest one.”

 

* Lives of a Cell, the 3-D Version by Kim Zetter

David Bolinsky was two years into a medical degree when he launched his first illustration company.” When I was four years old some friends of my family took me to see Fantasia and I was totally blown away. From that minute on I wanted to be an animator. My father (a sculptor and art historian who taught at New York University) taught me how to animate using serial drawings in a flipbook.”

“After I started my own company (in 1983), I found out what was available and ended up buying an 8-bit computer. You could get only 256 colors on screen — not the millions you get now. And it was really slow and really expensive and I had to mortgage my house. My fiancé at the time, who is now my wife, was totally freaked out. But I knew what I wanted to do and knew that I only had one way to do it.”

“I was fortunate enough when I was in junior high school that my pediatrician introduced me to Frank Netter’s artwork. I guess you could call him the father of modern medical illustration. He had an MD but he was also a painter…. Anyone having to do with medicine will have looked at Frank Netter’s art work…. I decided I would make him my model … getting my degree in medical illustration and then going on to medical school.”

Bolinsky, former lead medical illustrator at Yale, screened a three-minute version of a computer-generated film, The Inner Life of the Cell. The film was created by his company for Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Bolinsky decided to show it both at a conference and at Siggraph’s contest for the best animations of the year, where special effects from Pixar and Sony pictures and all the large Hollywood companies that make fancy commercials are entered.

“We started receiving tens of thousands of e-mails and phone calls, the hits on our website went from 200 a week to 650,000 a week and it was picked up by ABC News. We were getting e-mails from major universities all over the world asking if they could use this for their students (and) calls from high school teachers wanting it for advanced biology classes … and museums that want us to work on museum exhibits because they want to modernize how they teach science.”

“This is what I hoped when I started this company — that it could change how people saw things. We (thought) this great academic animation would be shown at Harvard and would disappear forever under the Ivy dome of silence…. We didn’t really anticipate that it would go anywhere and when it did it took us all by surprise.”

 

* How Web 3.0 Will Work by Jonathan Strickland

Think of Web 1.0 as a library. You can use it as a source of information, but you can’t contribute to or change the information in any way. Web 2.0 is more like a big group of friends and acquaintances. You can still use it to receive information, but you also contribute to the conversation and make it a richer experience.

Internet experts think Web 3.0 is going to be like having a personal assistant who knows practically everything about you and can access all the information on the Internet to answer any question. Many compare Web 3.0 to a giant database. While Web 2.0 uses the Internet to make connections between people, Web 3.0 will use the Internet to make connections with information. Some experts see Web 3.0 replacing the current Web while others believe it will exist as a separate network.

You never know how future technology will eventually turn out. In the case of Web 3.0, most Internet experts agree about its general traits. They believe that Web 3.0 will provide users with richer and more relevant experiences. Many also believe that with Web 3.0, every user will have a unique Internet profile based on that user’s browsing history. Web 3.0 will use this profile to tailor the browsing experience to each individual. That means that if two different people each performed an Internet search with the same keywords using the same service, they’d receive different results determined by their individual profiles.

 

* Web 2.0 is so over. Welcome to Web 3.0 by Jessi Hempel

The economic climate for today’s web startups is a lot chillier than it was during the first dot-com frenzy. The door for initial public offerings has all but closed: Just six U.S. venture-backed companies went public last year, and none were web outfits.

“Social-networking companies such as MySpace and Facebook have loyal fan bases, but they’re not exactly minting money. MySpace’s projected $600 million revenue in 2008 falls far short of parent News Corp.’s (NWS, Fortune 500) billion-dollar sales target for the site. Messaging service Twitter has no business model. Video-sharing site YouTube was the only big sale; Google paid $1.65 billion for it two years ago but still hasn’t figured out how to make much money off it.”

New companies are cropping up to expand the utility of the web, creating location-based services and financial payment systems that can be bolted onto existing sites. Often bootstrapped, they are frequently profitable and may get acquired quickly. Even in today’s tough environment, these upstarts are the ones raising money and trying to score a life- or business-altering hit. Welcome to Web 3.0

 

What I Think

I think I see a common thread in the articles posted on this date. Do you? Do you see what I see?

I’ll admit, as I wrote this late  on Father’s Day, I was a little tired and had some trouble connecting the dots for this post. Then I went back and found a message being repeated over and over in different ways, in many, if not all the articles. This “breakthrough” came partially with the help of the title of one of the articles, Skills Mom and Dad Taught Us. What better day than Father’s Day to read that message?

The common thread I see is just what I tell my kids, do what you love and the money will follow. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t come up with this myself. I got it from my father.

Don’t think that is the only message I send to my kids. The other messages surrounding the one above may very well drown out the primary message the first time they hear the core thought. I remember that I used to absolutely hate to have to “debate” my father. When I wanted to drive across country with my roommate during one summer after college, I was ready to go and so was my roommate. I had to tell my parents, of course, and I knew it would not be an easy conversation.

When the day came, I was right. The conversation was not easy because he kept quietly asking me questions I had a hard time answering. I didn’t have much money left in the bank after the end of school, but my roommate and I had planned to get temporary jobs here and there as we worked across the country.

My father asked me if it wouldn’t make more sense for each of us to first go back to the summer jobs we had the previous year, and work there until we got enough money for the trip. His theory was that the existing summer job, with assured position and pay rate, worked while still living at home, would likely ensure us a larger amount of net cash, at a quicker rate, and eliminate a major risk. This, in turn, would delay our departure (i.e. the next day) but would probably give us even more time to travel, once we got the requisite money in our pockets.

The problem was, my roommate and I had already done our “business plan” and our analysis told us that we should leave immediately with almost no money, and then find work as needed during the “great adventure.” Neither of us wanted to delay our trip. We were ready to go.

As with essentially every other time I remember “debating” with my father, I finally saw that my father was clearly correct. It made much more sense for us to go for the sure bankroll, saving on expenses while we did it, even though it meant admitting our miscalculations and naiveté. Who knew if two college kids from out of town would even be able to get a job when we needed one? We would obviously be stuck if we couldn’t find work.

We could have tried our plan, and I’m sure my father would have let us go, but also been prepared for “the call,” when we ran out of cash in St. Louis, or further West, where there may have been greater distances between potential employers. My father was prepared to let us fail, and to try to help rescue us if needed, but he also knew the path of least resistance for everybody was to try a little logic first.

Now, when I talk to my kids, clients in my law firm, or those I meet with through the SCORE counseling I do, I often find myself sounding like my father. Initially, I try to “absorb” the client’s enthusiasm of the moment. I then start to ask a few “gentle” questions. I don’t start with “what is your failure plan,” although I always try to get that in closer to the end of phase one of the discussion. I do challenge the assumptions of my clients and try to come up with failure scenarios. I pretty much have to start out that way because often the ideas being bounced off me are so exciting that I have to get control of my own enthusiasm for the concept or opportunity. Best to slowly build up to the worst case scenarios first, and then ask the hard questions, before finally jumping in to see how to make things better.

The message is “do what you love” and the money will follow. You need to do what you love in order to be happy, and to have a sustainable enthusiasm for it long enough to be successful. On the other hand, there may be more than one way to do “what you love,” more than one way to start down that road, and there may even be more than one thing that “you love.”

As Anthony Robbin said, you don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to have focus. It is rare to find success without hard work and discipline. My roommate and I thought we were ready to do the hard work to get ourselves across country on our summer trip, but listening to a wiser voice helped us understand there was more than one way to accomplish our goal. The goal was not the work. The goal was the trip. Perhaps the other scenario would have been better or provided us another experience more valuable than the one my father suggested. Following his advice, however, worked, and it is hard to argue with that.

The other way to look at the lessons of these articles is from the point of view of wanting to change how people see things. That was the “goal” of the animator from the 3D Cell article, quite literally. It was obviously also what has made Steve Jobs successful.

If a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer can use his training to understand the “simple” view of starting a business or buying one to turn around, isn’t much of applied entrepreneurship about changing how you see things? Sometimes this is because you have experience others do not. Sometimes it is because you have insight from clarity of thought that others do not. Sometimes, perhaps like my trip out west or Web 3.0, it is because Web 2.0 doesn’t make money or sense, and if you provide the missing ingredient, or turn the idea on its head, you can make money and reach your goal, doing what you love.

Who knows? Maybe Father does know best!

  

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If you enjoyed my impression of these articles, why don’t you read them for yourself and see what you and I missed or hit? Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.

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Posted in Applied Entrepreneurship, business, Business interruption, crisis, etc., Business life cycle, Buying a business, entrepreneur, Financial security, Financing a business, Growing a business, Innovation, Intellectual property, Law, Perseverance, Personal happiness, Planning for a business, Recession strategies, Running a business, Social networking & media, Starting a business, Succession Planning, technology, Thinking about a new business

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