Am I an Entrepreneur? It doesn’t Matter

Entrepreneurs are critical to the success of our economy by bearing the financial risks to drive innovation and value to their customers.  We salute them.


Are there shades of grey in being an Entrepreneur or is it black and white?  Can you be employed by others but still bring significant value to your company?   If your employer fails, you typically simply move on taking on the risk of lost income, not loss net worth.  However, what if you started to think like an entrepreneur where you are currently employed. Deborah Bailey wrote an interesting article to reflect this concept titled Become a Star Employee by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur.  There are several key take aways:

Your Attitude
Entrepreneurs start out with a vision of what they want to create, whether it is a product or a service. As an employee, your vision is just as important. The good news is that you have 100% control of this

Be Creative
Another trait of entrepreneurs is the ability to find creative ways to get things done. You also  have 100% control of this. Entrepreneurs must think creatively even in their sleep.  If you only do so during your waking hours, you are ahead of a majority of others.  If your employer goes out of its way to keep your creativity at bay, pick your battles.  If possible, find a new manager more responsive to new ideas. Believe it or not, they are there waiting for you!!!

Keep an Open Mind
A most important trait of entrepreneurs is the ability to learn new information and to continue to adapt.  Guess what, you have 100% control of this as well.  Many people find themselves doing the same type of responsibilities for years and get comfortable. Are you in this situation? If so, find a new set where you are more on the edge. It will reawaken your thought processes and clear your mind for new approaches and opportunities.

Thinking like an entrepreneur will ensure you will increase your value to your employer. With this brings increased opportunities, greater income potential and a life filled more with excitement.

ACTION FOR THE DAY
Imagine receiving an unexpected letter in the mail. You open it up and it declares that you are the new owner of the company you currently work for.  You have been given authority to make changes in the way your company earns revenue or manages its costs. Take a look at your roles and responsibilities in your current position.   Identify 3 ideas to accomplish your responsibilities in a faster and/or more efficient way.  How would you run your newly found company with a positive attitude, creative approach and keeping an open mind?  Who would you want to talk to in your company to implement these ideas?

Quote of the Day
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!! – Goethe


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Top Ways to Create Your Own Luck

I wrote earlier about viewing life as an opportunity to create your own luck.   But what approaches should you take?  I’ll let you in on a secret…It starts with the right mindset…it starts with Believing.


Nicole Carter of Inc.com wrote a terrific article on the 6 Steps for making your own luck. She listed out 6 Steps I wanted to share:

Be humble 
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

Roll up your Sleeves
A strong work ethic is the biggest contributor to being lucky.

Be Generous
A pay it forward attitude pays off in spades. And it feels good.

Be Ready

Per Jim Collins, author of  Good to Great, “Thousands of people could have done the same thing that Mr. Gates did,  at the same time. But they didn’t…”    Bill Gates was ready to take action. Are you?

Go with your Gut
Per Steve Jobs at his famous Stanford Graduating Class speech : “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you  can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.   You have to trust in something.”

Simply believe you are Lucky
According to psychologist and University of Hertfordshire Professor Richard Wiseman, “Simply believing you are lucky can create positive outcomes… Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there,  rather than just what they are looking for.”

While very unfortunate things could happen to us or our loved ones in life, sometimes painful experiences, we can still create our own luck and have some wonderful experiences and accomplishments in our life.

Action of the Day
For the rest of today and tomorrow, start a new belief system. You are indeed a very lucky person. If the luck hasn’t materialized yet, know that every challenge or setback is simply putting you one step closer to your ultimate goal.  Visualize yourself ready for the opportunity. You will be amazed at how many times situations arise to move forward on your goals when you are least expecting it. They will almost fall into your lap. Trust your gut. I am an “analyzer”. Sometimes, I need to take that hat off and just embrace what is coming my way and go with my gut feelings without analysis.  I then welcome the new opportunity, roll up my sleeves and give it my all. Luck is sure to follow.

Quote of the Day
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”       Michael Jordan (world famous professional basketball player

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Upgrade Your Career with Luck

Do you believe we fall into luck or create our own luck?

Let me give a scenario and you can prove to yourself the answer.

A talented lady, named Susan, desperately wants to break into acting. She goes to 100 auditions over two years for commercials, TV shows, and movie extra opportunities. No success yet. But she deep down knows this is her destiny. She works during the day on different odds/ends jobs scraping by an existence. One day, while working as a cashier at Target, in comes a man buying a DVD and white socks. Susan always treats each customer with a smile. Susan packages his purchases with style and wishes him a great day. He walks five steps, turns around, and shares that he is directing a new action television series. She has the look he has been looking for. He hires her and asks if she can start next Monday.

Is this luck or did she create her own luck? If you are a person with a glass half empty view of life, you might view this as pure luck. Clearly this director came out of the blue. How could you predict this would happen? If you are a person who views life with the glass half full, you would view this as Susan creating her own luck.

As you can imagine, I believe Susan created her own luck. She put herself out there for several years. Through her challenges, she refined her skill, and transformed herself mentally as an actress. She believed in herself. This faith in herself came across in everyone she met. It was only a matter of time that she would be “discovered”. Before this discovery, she just wasn’t ready yet. The auditions were a critical part of her development. She didn’t realize this till after going through those challenges.

Actions of the Day
What career or educational goals have you been pursuing that have seemingly alluded you? Have you been putting yourself out there giving it your all? If so, consider the possibility that the issue is not “if” but “when” you will succeed. There is a famous comment from Thomas Edison, the master American Inventor, where in discovering the light bulb, he never failed. He just found 10,000 ways that won’t work before succeeding. Never give up. Create your own luck!!

Quote of the Day
“Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison, American Inventor

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Do you need a Jolt of Inspiration?

Have you ever felt like you are hitting your head against the proverbial wall?  I have many times. There were my early days in Middle School where I ackwardly tried to fit into the social scene(it wasn’t pretty).

I hit my head on those first jobs where I was still discovering what career path I want to pursue. There were the latter years where my passion at times exceeded levels some people are comfortable with.  As I pursued more and more exciting things, my head hit the wall all too frequently. You know what, it is a good thing. It means I am pushing myself beyond the comfort zone of the status quo. I bet you have experienced the same thing.

I recently searched for a short video that can very simply serve as a catalyst to inspire positive thoughts. Why? Because to Upgrade your Career and your life, you need to be continuously inspired. You get to ultimately learn to inspire yourself. This is a pretty cool objective.

I discovered a “results” expert, author and consultant named John Von Achen. I have no ties to John, haven’t met him or interacted with him as of this writing. There is a short/sweet slideware YouTube he made available(approx. 3 minutes) that you will enjoy and can turn to for a quick dose of inspiration anytime. I sure will.

The beauty of this is that it isn’t rocket science. Your thoughts are a muscle. Work them, feed them and manage your thoughts through positive repetition. Please feel free to visit John’s website.

Actions of the Day: Count how many times over the next 12 waking hours you find yourself facing negative thoughts that create doubt in yourself. Of those negative thought experiences, how long did they last in average? If you find yourself spending a significant amount of time focused on doubts, fears and feelings of temporary helplessness, then make a commitment to invest time to build your control of thoughts. This could be one of the most constructive decisions you make. Many people find career development to not be meaningful if plagued by negative thinking. One way to do this is have available short inspirational reading/video material whenever negative thoughts set in.

Quote of the Day: “If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.”
— Zig Ziglar: Motivational author and speaker

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People Networking – How to Get Started

At all times of your career, your most valued assets will be your Network.   Networking is a commonly referenced to mean developing and maintaining contacts and personal connections with a variety of people who might be helpful to you and your career. This topic will be an exciting venture of focus.

We will be focusing on this very important career skill and I will share some valuable fundamentals and helpful tools to take you to the next level from where you are. According to a very good blog posted by blog.Jobfully.com on “How to Create a Network”, there is one place to turn to for fundamentally creating your network.

Start Close to Home
You do not need to initiate your efforts by cold calling people who don’t know you or start raking through LinkedIn to find new people to link up with to get to know…That can be both time consuming, inefficient and to say the least, downright intimidating.

I remember a time during my 20s when I was sure that I wanted to focus on the “aging industry” aka supporting those 65+.   I wanted to meet people familiar with the topic.   So I picked the name of the best selling author of a book on Aging during the 1980s and wrote him a letter asking for a chance to meet him and discuss the topic.   If you are familiar with the phrase “Six Degrees of Separation”, I was more like trying to go from ten degrees to one in a single dramatic step. And I was not offering to help him, but rather to get his help(I have learned better since).  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for dramatic steps, but there was high probability of failing on my first attempt. And fail i did….I should have started more methodically to build my network on the “aging” topic  and “started close to home”.

A more effective route to pursue is the following order of priority to find people to meet:

*       Family members
*       Friends
*       Co workers
*       Organizations you belong to (Religious, Interest Groups, Political affiliations)
*       LinkedIn and Facebook Connections

Either you know people linked to the topic you wish to learn more about or they know someone. You have so much to offer others that you might be overlooking….A different perspective…a fresh face who wants to learn something new…you are a potential helper/mentor to others on the topics you know well and understand…..Never sell yourself short….You have so much to give…and it is through this giving that you will ultimately develop a very valuable People Network to help you on your life’s journey.

Action of the Day:   If you haven’t already, establish a personal journal to capture your journey of improvement. It is so valuable to track your progress and issues on a daily basis to learn from your experiences.   Write down the top 5 people you consider to be part of your network.   Jot down what is important to them in their lives and career and what you do on a regular basis to help them make progress towards their goals. If you do not know what is important to them, schedule time and find out. Try to figure out how you can help and start taking steps to do so.  Always start from the point of view of giving….you will feel better as a person and find that mysteriously, you will receive  back 10X more than what you give…Networking is not about taking…it is about giving…

Quote of the Day:  “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.     Zig Ziglar, famous leadership and personal motivation expert.

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5 Ways to Make a Positive Impression

Skills are not always about specific capabilities like putting things together, typing so many words per minute or being able to write software code to solve the most complex Sudoku puzzles.  To succeed in this world(however you define success), you must build relationships through sincere based interactions with people.

Very few people can succeed without collaboration and partnership with others.   Before you can develop these relationships, you need to make a great first impression. This is a soft skill(one we do not take a college course to develop). Soft skills tend to focus on communication and interpersonal skills.

We know they are important. When is the last time you wanted to partner with someone who didn’t leave you with a positive impression. Martin Zwilling, CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals, Inc.; published a list of 7 things to avoid making a Poor Impression.  I summarized to 5.

* Dress appropriately from the perspective of the person you are trying to impress
  (Dress more conservatively than might be expected…if unsure, wear business attire – always)

* Find a common business link or friend to warm up the connection 
(Key — Research who the person/company you will be connecting with.  Leverage Google,
Facebook, LinkedIn 
…you can be sure the same will be done on you…what do you have
in common?)

* Be prepared to concisely state your key objective
(In communication circles, this is known as your elevator pitch…you have 1 minute to
clearly state what you want
and have questions prepared to continue the dialogue as
appropriate)

* Know a lot, but don’t flaunt it
(Remember, you are building a relationship….clearly do your homework and be prepared
to answer any question..
but don’t be arrogant…they need to not only respect you
but like you!!
)

* Be positive, courteous, on time, and attentive
  
(All those years of mother/father teaching you manners will pay off here…be polite, say
Hello
 and respect the other people’s time….Don’t be late for any reason!!)

Action:  Make a lunch, coffee or even a 15 minute catch up appointment with someone you know.  It can be with someone you meet with frequently or someone who you have not invested much time in the past to meet with. Pretend you haven’t met this person before.  Perform a virtual search on this individual and put together a picture of him/her strictly based on the information available online. What do you have in common?  Memorize the information and prepare some questions.  Create an elevator pitch where you have uncovered a common interest and would like to discuss their knowledge on the topic in more details.  Show up for the appointment 5 minutes earlier than the committed time. Work hard to make a great impression.  Take note of the experience. How did it go?  Were you able to further connect with the individual to establish or enhance a bond?

Quote of the Day: “Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.”
Dalai Lama

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Make A Dream Come True – No College Degree Required

My first year of blogging will touch on various skills to manage not only your career but your life. The fundamental skill to address first is controlling your thoughts and letting your passion/energy outweight the naysayer inside of you. You need to be your biggest FAN.  If you do, nothing can stop you.

Here is an awesome story of two Canadian teenage boys who made the declaration of putting a man into space…ok..a LEGO man…but they did it…and they didn’t accept perceived limitations…lack of education..lack of money….See the article from the Toronto Star.

What can we learn from this?

* It doesn’t matter where you have been, you can make things happen no matter what people tell you

* Lack of education, lack of connections, lack of money are not show stoppers…you can do it!!

* Believe it or not, there are things you are doing today, that are inspiring others..You just don’t know it.

* Building your own self-confidence comes from taking risks and living your passion..one day at a time

* Let yourself feel inspired by others…if they can do it…you can do it.

Action: Pretend you are a teenager, if you are not so today.  Everything is possible and you ignore people who tell you otherwise. What two things would you do that would be inspiring and lift your spirits? Can you find a way to make it happen? If you can, you will feel higher than the Lego Man in Space!!!

Quote of the Day:   “Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die today”….James Dean

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To Do Lists….Don’t Forget Your Calendar!!

I have been committed to “To Do Lists” as a productivity tool ever since my busy days in high school.   It was right up there in importance over time with saving my pennies and being nice to a girl before asking her out on a date…  I must admit that this supplemental step has shown much merit.

Technology author Dave Johnson reported on a Harvard Business Review finding on an alternative to traditional “To Do Lists”…it is leveraging more aggressively your calendar tool i.e. Outlook. It is simple but very dramatic if implemented. Here is how it works.

 My top 3  prioritized activities due today:

* Complete work Project Plan
* Call Mom
* Build Financial Plan

Like most of you, I am extremely busy.  I would review this list regularly and update several times daily.  The risk here is that I need to ensure I convert the priorities to results. The how is discovered on a daily basis.  But the missing link here is actually scheduling specific times to complete everything you have prioritized.

Alternative Approach: Schedule the Priorities in Your Calendar (NOW)

* Complete Work Plan
(Slotted between 9:00-10:00 AM…reschedule a less critical meeting to later in the week)
* Call Mom
(Scheduled during lunch..moved lunch 1:1 out by 15 minutes…she’s retired with more flexibility than I have!!)
* Start Developing Personal Financial Plan
(Scheduled for 8:00-9:00 PM…Many people only schedule activities for work..add your personal requirements too!)

Don’t just list your priorities, calendar them in… To the best of your ability, do not schedule over these time slots. If you must,  review your calendar and adjust as needed to slot new times into it.  I have followed this approach and it has improved my productivity in quite a significant way.  If it is not on your calendar, your risk of closure increases dramatically.  You might have already experienced this pitfall of strict reliance on  “To Do” lists.

Action of the Day: Review your top 2 priorities over the next 24 hours. Go to your calendar(whether through a planner, outlook or other scheduling tool) and reserve  specific time slots to work on them. To the best of your ability, do not allow anything to conflict with those time slots or ensure you find alternative times that day when conflicts arise.  If you do not maintain a calendar to organize your time, now is the time to start (you can find free templates on the internet including one from Microsoft).

Quote of the Day:  “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose”…Thomas Edison

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Top 10 Ways How Successful People Think

One of the most critical skills you will ever attain, are the ones that control the way you think.  Is there a correlation to what you think and how you perform?

YES     The mind is so strong that you can take hold of thoughts that can induce signs of illness. 

John Maxwell, a well established leadership expert and author of many books, released a book in 2011 titled “How Successful People Think”.   If you want to become an expert golfer, you need to think like one. If you wish to lose weight, you need to think like someone who weighs much less than you do today. You GET TO think like the person you wish to become.

I selected my Top 10 Ways Successful People think from John Maxwell, and they all have a common theme. It all starts upstairs in the mind.

I have added some quick translations in ().

  •  Get over negative self talk. Winners think in terms of “I will” and “I can”  
     (Negative thoughts = Negative results…”as you think so shall you be”)
  • Thinking is a discipline. If you want to be better at it, you’ve got to work at it.
     (Positive Thinking Practice makes perfect…you mind is like a muscle..keep working it!!!)
  • Figure out where you need to focus your energy, and then use the 80/20 rule
    (Prioritize Your Limited Time….80% of tasks can be ignored with minimal implications)
  • Smart thinkers expose themselves to different ideas and types of people
    (Meet new people and uncover new ideas from  your discussions – it’s amazing what you can learn just listening)
  • It’s one thing to have an idea, another to follow through 
     (An idea is like a seed…following through on it is like watering the seed…action is required)
  •  Smart people collaborate with other smart people  
    (You will never succeed alone. Seek mentors, partners, supporters)
  •  To think differently, do different things
     (To appreciate others’ ideas, you need to value other ideas)
  •  Have an agenda — for the day, and when you meet with people 
    (When you meet people, make it count, you need to collaborate with people to succeed)
  •  Creative people are dedicated to ideas  
    (ideas lead to creating value….we need to create value to be successful)
  •  Naturally optimistic people find it hard to be realistic thinkers         
    (Thinking out of the box still requires doing your homework)

ACTION: Pick one of the 10 recommendations and LIVE IT for the next 24 hours. What changed for you? Start the habits today towards positive thinking. If you found success, pick a 2nd recommendation to follow for the next day…you are on the road to a brand new perspective of yourself and where you take your career and life.

Quote of the Day: “You are the masterpiece of your own life; you are the Michelangelo of your experience. The David that you are sculpting is you. And you do it with your thoughts.”— Dr. Joe Vitale: Motivational author and speaker

Do you make $50M Career Decisions?

In 2011, a former law student at San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law sued the school for $50 million, after she couldn’t find a job while building up $150K in student loans. She claims the school falsified employment statistics without disputing the quality of her education.

This raises a fascinating question: Who is responsible for picking the right career path, right set of employment expectations and developing the right communication skills?

Your Parents : Probably not…parents want not only what is best for you…but they also want you to do what minimizes their own worst case fears. (you know,  on your being destitute, homeless, loveless, and all alone).

 
I have children and I can fully imagine this. But, honestly, parents can’t pick their kids’ interests, career pursuits or dreams.
 

Your Friends:   In the words of Macaulay Culkin in the movie Home Alone“I don’t think so”.  They want what is best for you…but their desires/values and issues are going to be different from yours. Like your parents, they care and they know you very well. But…they are not career experts.

Career Experts : They can help for sure. They are available online in blogs, in books, at schools, or people specializing in this area of consulting for fees. But, unlike your parents or friends, they don’t know you. So at the end of the day…it comes down to ……

YOU!!!

This conclusion is both scary and extremely liberating. It confirms that you are blessed with the freedom of choice.  This is very exciting. There are many processes/tools to support your decision process. We will explore these over time…together.

Question 1:  What was the basis for your past career path decisions? The answer to this can help confirm the source of your current set of skillsets and resolve if they are skills you wish to maintain long term for a career.

Question 2: If you could pretend that no matter what career  pursuit you picked, your parents, friends and people you highly respect would bless it, support it and be totally thrilled with decision, what 3 potential paths would you consider? 

Action: In the next 48 hours, investigate what skills are needed for this path and the ways you could learn this new career. Can you learn these skills at night and apply the new skills you want to build in your current job? You will be surprised how this could be a WIN/WIN for you and your employer or customers.

Quote of the Day:  “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.”   Steve Jobs