Eric Thomas – Thank God It’s Monday

Eric Thomas is one of a kind. He understands how to motivate and is a skilled public speaker. This isn’t the first time I have written about him either. In his weekly video blog, ET shared a message that I felt was worth passing along:

Don’t talk about it, be about it!

You must live your core values day in and day out. It’s not a sometime thing, it has to be an all the time thing. If you can live your life by principles, you’ve got a chance. Enjoy!

 

“I Don’t Know” Is The Wrong Answer

Remember a time when you wanted to do something but you didn’t have the knowledge to execute the task? This occurs to many people throughout their lives. The common response is something along the lines of “Oh well….I wish I knew how to do that.” But successful people decide to overcome the obstacle and accomplish the task through learning.

These people who do not let a knowledge barrier get in their way are usually the same people who become famous for their accomplishments. Mark Cuban spent every night reading computer software manuals because he figured no one else had the discipline to do it and he would become the most knowledgeable software salesman in the industry. He turned out alright. Bill Gates is notorious for spending so much time reading that he has begun to do it in odd places (even spotted reading and driving!). What I am trying to get at is that “If you don’t know something, go learn it!”

While most people dream of a day when they can pay someone to carry out a task for them without having to try to accomplish it themselves, many will never see this day. About four years ago I decided I was going to begin to take the route least traveled. Each week I pick one subject or area of expertise that I am unknowledgeable in and try to learn as much about it as I can. It can be anything from business to education to science or even sports. This weekly challenge has been step one in my program to acquire knowledge. Step two is to read two different books a month. I must admit that step one is much easier than step two!

The bottom line is that if you don’t know an answer or don’t know how to do something, it is very beneficial to go learn about it. Not only will it help in the current situation but many times you will run into the same issue in the future. In order to apply knowledge you must first gather it. If you can foster a love for learning you will accomplish many things in life. The foundation is crucial, don’t be lazy and wait for someone else. Your future is in your hands, what will you do with it?

Be Popular, Not Famous

Many entrepreneurs set out to build a business for the money. Along the way they fall in love the grind, the game, and also the attention that comes along with it. I recently was listening to an interview of Jens Pulver (a mixed martial arts world champion) and he said something that really resonated with me.

He said “I attribute much of my success to my attitude and how people relate to me. Most guys dread going to the mall or signing autographs. Me? I love it. I’m just a regular dude. I go to the mall and give out some high fives and have some fun with people. I get up on a pedestal when I enter the cage to fight because thats my job, but as soon as the fight is over I get right back down. I don’t see myself as famous or any of that. I am just a regular f*****ing dude. I’m not famous, just real popular.”

Pulver brings up an excellent point. His attitude towards the attention is what allows him to seem down-to-earth and garner so much respect. As a business leader, you will experience praise and criticism. Those that can avoid allowing the attention to go to their head will survive.

Take the time every week to refocus yourself and realize that you put your pants on the same way everyone else does…..one leg at a time. Your bank account doesn’t define you so don’t let others think it does. Be yourself, be genuine, never be too busy for others, and help those that need it. This recipe for success will help you more then any business plan or idea ever can.

 

21 Ways of Self-Reliance

Miyamoto Musashi is widely considered to be the greatest samurai warrior, if not the greatest warrior of all time. He fought hundreds of battles to the death, never losing a single one. After he wrote his famous “The Book of Five Rings,” he wrote down his “21 Ways of Self-Reliance.” Below are the 21 points that he lived his life by:
  1. Do not stubbornly rebel against the ways of the world.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not rely upon any half-hearted feelings.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and think deeply of the world.
  5. Remain detached from desire.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous of others.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Abandon resentment and complaint.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of love.
  11. Disregard your personal preferences.
  12. Accept your dwelling and living conditions.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hoard ancient treasures intended for future generations.
  15. Do not mindlessly follow the ways of the world.
  16. Do not become obsessed with weapons or fighting.
  17. Do not run from death.
  18. Do not accumulate goods and riches for your old age.
  19. Respect the gods, without relying on their help.
  20. You can abandon your own body, but never let go of your honor.
  21. Never depart from the way of strategy.

It is easy to see why a man who lived his life through these principles was so accomplished. How do you stack up to these principles? Do you follow any of them?

Viral Marketing: Get the word out….Fast!

<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_9274190″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSkok/the-science-behind-viral-marketing&#8221; title=”The Science behind Viral marketing” target=”_blank”>The Science behind Viral marketing</a></strong> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/&#8221; target=”_blank”>presentations</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSkok&#8221; target=”_blank”>David Skok</a> </div> </div>

I ran across this slideshow on viral marketing. These techniques are proven over and over again to be effective. With the explosion of social media, APIs, and content sharing, there is no reason why you can’t get the word out about your product or service!

What viral marketing techniques have you used in the past? Were they effective? Share your experiences below!

What Political Attack Ads Can Teach About Guerilla Marketing Techniques

This photo has been circulating the internet for a few days and I think it can teach entrepreneurs some pretty interesting things about marketing regardless of political views. First lets look at the actual photo. On the left, Mitt Romney is sitting in a chair on an airport tarmac getting his shoe wanded for security purposes. On the right, Barack Obama is walking past a janitor and “pounds it” (the modern, cool handshake). Both of these photos are put together to offer the viewer a contrast about the individuals, their beliefs, and ability to lead our country.

Why is this important to entrepreneurs? This is a fantastic job of implementing proven guerilla advertising and marketing techniques. Here are three effective aspects at play:

Use of public perception: The first aspect is the use of priorly held perceptions about each individual. People commonly think Romney is a rich, white man, while Obama is seen as an African-American who is “a man of the people.” This photo plays on those feelings by trying to make people think that Romney is receiving a shoe shine, while Obama is spending time with the everyday person. Right or wrong, these perceptions will persevere and are very powerful.

Use of powerful images: This “ad” uses two photos that are extremely powerful when you first look at them. It counts on the fact that the viewer will not look very hard at either one of them. They will not question them, but they will be in awe of their initial reaction to such powerful images. I must admit that at first glance, I thought Romney was getting a shoe shine as well. Shock and awe is a tactic that can create great results.

Viral Sharing/Exposure: You have heard that “any exposure is better than no exposure.” In this case, as long as people are talking, debating, or arguing over this ad, it is seen as effective. Create emotional responses from people and you will be more likely to get your desired results. Also, the viral sharing aspect is important because someone is much more likely to find an ad effective if it is attached to their friends in social media, rather than a generic ad. The more you can make something viral, the more eyes will see it, which ultimately increases effective exposure.

In the end, this ad accomplishes its goal through very simple means. Get people to solidify their thoughts on political candidates with two very simple photos. Context and delivery are important and affect the effectiveness of a campaign. This guerilla tactics not only work in politics, but in business as well!

Are there any other political ads that have similar traits? What other aspects do you see with this particular ad that could be used in business marketing?

 

 

Mark Cuban’s Best Piece of Motivation

I recently read Mark Cuban’s new ebook “How to Win at the Sport of Business” and want to share one of his unique perspectives. Being the owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks, Cuban uses numerous sports analogies. One in particular really struck home and can serve as motivation to any entrepreneur.

Cuban says that in baseball if you could get a hit 4 out of 10 at bats, then you would be a first ballot Hall of Famer.  In basketball if a player is able to hit over 50% of his shots from the field, then he most likely would be voted an all-star. These percentages don’t seem unattainable but they are almost never reached year after year. In business, you face much better odds.

No matter how many businesses you start, you only have to make one successful. Every entrepreneur chases that one successful endeavor that will make them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Instead of having to “bat” .400 or “shoot” over 50%, as a business owner you could be .00001% successful and be considered a genius. These odds are reassuring to any entrepreneur.

With this in mind, we must remember that it is much easier to take a basketball shot or swing a baseball bat then it is to put your financial security at risk and start a business. To combat this, preparation is key in the world of business. To make every endeavor count and give it the best chance for success, put in the necessary time, effort, and work.

Overall, I enjoyed Cuban’s ebook. It was very short, an easy read, and also cheap. He provides insight into his thoughts and advice while including some humorous stories along the way. A great business mind shows once again why anyone can accomplish the level of success that he has. You just have to minimize risk through preparation and believe in your abilities. You can find the ebook here:

How many attempts would you go through in order to accomplish success? Have you ever been discouraged, persevered through it and then realized success shortly after? Share your stories and insight below!

What the San Francisco 49ers Taught Us About Leadership

The San Francisco 49ers are a football team in the National Football League (NFL). Before the 2011 season, the 49ers had experienced 8 consecutive non-winning seasons. These were tough times for a storied franchise that had seen Hall of Famers such as Steve Young and Jerry Rice play for them.

On January 7, 2011 the 49ers made a decision that completely changed their organization. They hired Jim Harbaugh as their head coach from Stanford University. The reason that this hire was so important was because Harbaugh would be responsible for the success or failure of the 2011 team.

Under Harbaugh, the 49ers obtained a 13-3 record and are still playing in the NFL playoffs on their way to the Super Bowl. With this turnaround, one must ask how could such a dramatic change have occurred in one season?

The answer lies in the head coach. Jim Harbaugh was able to bring a certain toughness and unique mindset to the team that helped them to accomplish success. This could only be done by a leader who was able to empower those he leads. Harbaugh showed this group of men what their potential was and then laid out a plan of action for them to accomplish it.

This type of leader is essential to a successful company as well. An executive who can show his team their potential and lay out a similar plan will realize success beyond their wildest dreams. While hard work, persistence, and a great idea are helpful, a team can not be successful without a great leader. Many people believe these leaders are born, but I believe that a leader can be made. Many books, articles, and advice pieces exist to help mold a great leader. Now that you know you need a great leader, are you willing to become that individual?

I am not a 49ers fan but though this was a great example to use. Have you ever been led by a great leader? What are the leadership qualities of the great leaders that you have known? Share your stories and experiences below!

Look Forward, Talk Now

Dave Morin brings up a great point here when he says “have the hard conversations early and often.” I would try to take it a step further when offering advice.

The goal should be to have these conversations before they become the “hard” conversations. I always advise every entrepreneur that they should have all of the worst case scenarios played out from the beginning when all parties involved are on good terms. Nothing is harder than trying to solve a problem down the road when emotions are high.

Some of the topics to ensure you cover are exit strategies as a team or for  only part of the team, ownership/roles, and how to deal with unhappy management/owners down the road. These are some of the most common topics that are overlooked because “we would never not be friends!” Do it now, while you can. If you wait you may pay for it in money and relationships!

What are other topics that you covered early on in an entrepreneurial effort? Did you have a good or bad experience? Share your stories below!