Kick Start The New Year

As we start the New Year, so many of us reflect upon what it would be like to make this year a better one. Instead, what if we think about how we can make it happen? How does the reality changethat we want to see actually manifest? It happens by first figuring out where you want to go and removing the obstacles that are stopping you from getting there.

When I was in Istanbul, Turkey I heard Matthew Kelly talking about getting to where you want to go and dreaming of the possibilities of what might be. As a life and business coach, Matthew helps people and businesses focus on their greatest desires and dreams and then helps them get there. He also wrote the best-selling book The Dream Manager. Reading his latest blog post reminded me of some of the planning, focus, and what we should avoid in order to reach our greatest desires.

To kick start your life and make 2013 the best ever, ask yourself the same questions Matthew asks. I will share the questions as well as provide one example from each to demonstrate changes I will make this coming year.

  1. If you could only accomplish three things next year, what would they be?
  1. What are you going to do to ensure you have more energy next year than you did this year?
  1. What relationships do you want to improve? How will you improve them?
  1. What new habit(s) are you going to adopt in 2013 to grow spiritually?
  1. What bad habits are you going to eliminate?
  1. What are you going to spend more time doing?
  1. What are you going to spend less time doing?

I will make it a key top priority to build successful mobile apps. I will do P90X2 cardio workouts twice a week on top of the weight workouts to increase my energy. I will improve the relationship with my team and the culture of our company, and I will do this by injecting a positive energy with all my interactions and eliminating any negative people or conversations that come up. I will read a page each day from my spiritual books. I will eliminate the habit of complaining about the small stuff. I will spend more time reading books and material that have big ideas and positively change my thinking. I will spend less time watching negative news stories that bring my vibrational energy down.

What about you? What are a couple of big things that you are going to go after, and what will you eliminate to kick start your life to the big dreams that we are all after?

Get Your “Why” and You Will Get Your Customers

I have written before on finding your purpose and discovering why you do what you do. It is important to understand your “why” because it changes the way you communicate with your target audience in order to sell your products or services. Most of us communicate with others by discussing our features and benefits, which is the “how” and “what” of the work we do.

Discovering and sharing your “why” with your audience connects them in an emotional way that motivates the decision making process. In Simon Sinek’s TED video, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” he shares his discovery of the “why” and understanding why you do something and why your organization exists.

Simon says, “People don’t buy what you do . . . they buy why you do it.”

The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe. Simon uses Apple, the Wright Brothers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to show examples of the power of WHY!

This is all grounded in biology. The human brain is broken into three major areas. The neo cortex corresponds with rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections correspond with our limbic brains, which are responsible for our feelings, such as trust and loyalty, as well as for all behavior and decision making. When we are communicating to the inside part of the limbic brain, we are talking to the area that resonates with our decision making ability.

This is done by stating what you believe. Instead of talking about all your benefits and features, tell them what you believe. Tell them your “why” of what you do. Those that you resonate with will look at you with their decision making limbic brain and will more likely choose to do business with you.

If you don’t know your “why” and are having a tough time figuring this out, there is a process that has been developed by my fellow EO Forum mate Ridgley Goldsborough that shares the WHY Marketing Formula. Watch his video here. This powerful approach can help you discover your “why.” Use this to connect with your target customers in such a way that business explodes.

Are you connecting with the “why” and the decision making part of the brain for your customers? How do you share your sales and marketing language? Do you share with benefits and features or with the “why” of who you are?

Power of One

Having a business and being an entrepreneur, you attempt to make a difference in your life, sometimes in the lives of others, and not so often, in the world. I see this on a daily basis because running a company is integral in the lives of many people around me.

You usually see the small things but not the larger impact that you might make someday in the future. For example, you may have created some great product that improves the lives of others in a meaningful way, or you may go public in an IPO and share stock with your early hard-working employees that one day generates more money than ever imagined.

Sometimes, your greatest impact to make the world better may not even show up until after you’re gone. This was the case for Rachel Beckwith, a little girl that forever changed the lives of 60,000 people after she was killed in a tragic accident. I will share the story briefly, and then you can watch the short video to see the effects of her dreams and actions. Warning to all viewers: if you are uncomfortable feeling the goodness of humans helping each other and fear a tear may build up around your eyes, don’t watch this video.

At 9 years of age, Rachel Beckwith had a big heart and wanted to solve many of the problems she saw in the world. When Scott Harrison from Charity Water (my favorite charity) visited her church and shared how his organization helps young kids in Africa get access to clean drinking water, she set out to help and created her own fundraising page. With her ninth birthday coming up, she asked those that normally gave her gifts to donate $9 instead, with a goal to raise $300.

She raised $220 and made a promise to try harder next year. However, a few weeks later, a tractor-trailer on I-90 near Seattle, WA jackknifed into a logging truck and smashed into Rachel’s car. She was the only one critically injured, and on July 23, 2011, she was taken off life support. The news of her story soon spread, and in the month that followed, approximately 30,000 people gave $1.2-million.

Watch as Rachel’s mom goes to Africa to witness the new wells flowing with clean water and the impact that her 9 year old daughter has left on the lives of so many.

What is the legacy that you are going to leave behind?

See VIDEO here.


Realizing Your Purpose

A lot of what happens in business seems to be based on default. What do I mean by default? Well it goes like this: “I lost my job so I went into business myself”, “These clients buy my product so, this is the audience I sell towards”, “I was making all the money for the company, so I decided to go out on my own”, or “I was a really good engineer, carpenter, programmer, haircutter, etc, etc, so I decided to go into business for myself”. This is exciting, but it doesn’t create a great business until you determine its purpose for existence, beyond making a living.

If you’ve ever wondered why it is that other companies seem to be doing so well, and you are always struggling, it could be because you haven’t found or awakened to your true purpose for being in business. Making sure that purpose is always alive in your daily and weekly interactions and the culture of your business is essential to real success.

In my favorite book on leadership called Leadership Wisdom from the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma wrote about purpose and why it makes a difference. He used the example of how Southwest Airlines became great, not because they were charging low fares, but because they had a greater purpose of making it possible for grandparents to see their grandkids and small business to expand their markets. This awareness of a greater purpose allows people to move beyond working just for a paycheck.

Purpose was also a key aspect of Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. If they were faced with choosing between core purpose and core values for guiding and inspiring an organization, they said they would likely choose core purpose.  To them, the core purpose captures the soul of an organization and is like “a guiding star on the horizon – forever pursued, but never reached”. In other words, an organization is always stimulating change and working to move closer to that purpose, but unlike a goal, it’s never fully realized.

When a company or organization finds their higher meaning for being in existence, it will align the people and engage their hearts. With a purpose you can show your organization that their work touches people’s lives, directly or indirectly. People tend to work harder where they find fulfillment, and giving your people a purpose for what they do day to day could be just what you need to create an environment where great things are possible.

Have you discovered your core purpose for your company, or possibly for your own life? If not, you should check out this article “Building Your Company’s Vision” by Jim Collins on how to realize your core purpose.

Designing Your Life at EO Barcelona

I’ve attended EO Universities for several years now, but this year was unlike any I’ve ever attended. I went for the first time to Barcelona, Spain. The theme of the University was “Design Your Life”. The idea was to focus on what you really want out of life, and what you’re doing to get there. It’s like choosing a personal BHAG – your very own Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

As entrepreneurs, we set goals all the time, but experience has taught me that we tend to view are business goals and life goals as one in the same; that by reaching our business goals we receive all we want out of life. Shouldn’t our businesses really be the means to our personal goals and the life legacies we want to create? This isn’t the case, in that, more often than not we let our businesses consume our lives and distract us from our families, spousal relationships, and our own personal paths.

While there I attended programs on knowing your limits, and designing your personnel life plan. Verne Harnish introduced the personal one page plan, or the ME page. We discussed things like, “How important is money?” and “How much is enough?” Social entrepreneurs were a common topic, as well as finding strength in all the challenges of life and business.

A fellow entrepreneur, Nando Parrado, gave a testimonial on the Miracle in the Andes, his story of surviving 72 days when they knew no one was coming. Nando and one of his Rugby mates inspired us with strength and courage with their fight against the cold and mountains. They hiked over 40 miles of nasty terrain to find help and see the team they left behind get rescued. On a scale of 1 to 10, this story was a 15…and is to be continued in a later blog.

I began working on my own BHAG on this trip, and I made a commitment to create 3 very deep relationships that will help me grown and be a strong resource for me in good and bad times. Keith Farrazzi talks about this in his new book, who’s got your back. Working on personal goals has been eye opening for me and has allowed me to combine my thoughts about my life with the success of my business in a way that brings more meaning and satisfaction to all that I do!

Whether you are just starting out, or you’ve already achieved success in your business, have you thought about the major accomplishments you want above all else in your life? Look at it like this: If you were a big ship leaving behind a wake that rippled through all those you pass by, one day when you looked back at that wake, how do you want to have affected those you’ve passed? How do you want them to remember that wake?

The people (it is always mostly about the people) and the speakers in this beautiful city of Barcelona, caused me to stop and have some serious contemplation about my future.

4 Ways to Know (and Live) Your Purpose

For various business reasons, I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately. I’ve visited many cities, attended several events, and had the pleasure of learning from a variety of well known speakers. Recently I’ve heard from the likes of Tony Hsieh (Zappos), John Assaraf (from the movie The Secret, and author of The Answer), Guy Kawasaki (Apple), Sir Richard Branson (Virgin) and even George W. Bush (need I elaborate?). All of their messages were very educational and insightful, but there is one in particular I want to share with you.

One of the speakers at the EO Texas Round Up in Dallas was Roy Spence, Chairman of GSD&M Idea City (a marketing firm) and CEO of The Purpose Institute. This was timely given my recent blog on core purpose. His story was about the power of focusing on your purpose.

Roy has worked with Herb Kelleher (former CEO and Chairman) of Southwest Airlines for decades now, and over the years has helped to support their purpose around freedom of the airways.

Roy told us about the time not long ago when outside consultants came to Southwest’s executive team and told them that they were losing $350 million a year not charging for bags. Management asked Roy what he thought and he said that if they did this they were going against their purpose of giving passengers the freedom to fly! The executive team said we see your point, but go figure out how to make up the difference!

  Well by now I am sure that you have heard or seen one of the Bags Fly Free commercials for Southwest that Roy worked to put together. The ones like “we love your bags” or the one I can’t get out of my head, sing along with me now “Bags fly free..bags fly free” on and on. These are powerful commercials that have gone on to help create… are you ready….A BILLION dollars of additional revenue for them.

How cool is it that when you stay true to living your purpose you keep your people engaged and excited about what you are doing you don’t have to sacrifice profit for your truth.

Roy showed this video called Hallelujah to help us understand what purpose feels like:

He said when you have these 4 things you will know purpose.

1) You have to know the words to the song

2) You have to listen to one another

3) You’ve got to step up when it is your turn

4) It really sounds good when you sing together…

When there’s more than one right answer…

Dewitt Jones tells an exceptional story. He does it with a passion and purpose that he has put into his life as a National Geographic photographer. The title of his talk, Extraordinary Vision, was truly extraordinary. He shares the stories behind these fantastic photographs that make them real and meaningful in a way that sticks with you. I was fortunate enough to see him at both the EO Arizona University and the EO Canada Regional, and was captivated both times. Many people said they felt teary eyed listening to his presentation.

What really got to me, and he does get to you, is how he approaches moments with the possibility of what could be. He goes by a personal mantra, “There is more than one right answer!” No matter how great the photo, he is always open to the possibility that there is a better one. He would capture a moment in time that may have been just what he was looking for, but if he’d stopped there, he wouldn’t have seen the better one that came just moments later.

He spoke about a time where he’d gone to a dandelion field to take some photos, only to find that the dandelions had dried up and all that was left was a field of white puff balls waiting to fly away in the wind. Instead of walking away, he thought that maybe things didn’t end there, that dandelions didn’t make the only “right” photo. Take a look. Who would have thought a picture of a dried up dandelion in the sun could be so beautiful and serene? It wasn’t what he’d sought out, but his open mind and creativity offered something more, and something inspirational.

For me this begged the question, what am I not staying open to? What is the next right answer? Are you dealing with white puff balls instead of pretty, yellow dandelions in this economy? Are you open to the idea that there is another right answer?

Dewitt talked about having Vision, Passion, Purpose and Creativity in the way you approach where you are going. Honestly, it sounded more like something from a Jim Collins book like Good to Great than it did a photographer. He would say “When we breathe in, we take it all in, and when we breathe out, we give it all back!” He calls it the One Breath Meditation…what a good analogy for life.

He believes that when your vision is clear, it’s there, and it will show up. When you continue to believe in the next right answer, you find yourself traveling down the accelerating possibilities curve. He has a vision of beauty and special moments in all of life, and he has captured them over and over again to be witness in National Geographic for over 20 years.

So Why Read My Blog?

I was born an entrepreneurial spirit, an inherent desire to create opportunities and realize them. My journey has led me around the world, given me the opportunity to learn from some remarkable people, and experience leadership on a whole new level.

In my life I have gone from pumping gas, delivering newspapers, and making clown shoes to creating a mutual fund from scratch that helped carry my firm to $1Billion in assets. I then created the first mutual fund in the world run solely by its shareholders. I have seen my ideas and investments flounder, and I have also seen them thrive. I have felt stupid and genius at the same time, and discovered the world of Dyslexia. I have identified the difference between my strengths and my weaknesses, and learned to use them to my advantage. I have found a world of people who share my entrepreneurial spirit within the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), and with them I have been everywhere from the Pentagon to the Playboy Mansion.

Today I run a custom software development company called Efficience, with offices in both the United States and India (Effindi). My team and I have realized success and failure, and from that have developed an effective form of execution that we call FlockGPS.

I know that I did not get here alone, and I feel that my path to success is ongoing. My point is this: I got here from what I learned from other people, and it’s only fair that I pass along my awareness and experiences. Our economy suffers right now. We are the only ones who can fix it. I want to succeed, and I want to see Entrepreneurs around the world succeed, as well. We are the ones providing the innovation and job growth in our economies.

I was told a long time ago that if you really want to know something, you teach it. So if sharing this blog exposes you to ideas that will help you grow your business and inspire the entrepreneur inside of you, then I think they refer to that as a win-win.