Stand Up, Speak Out, and Be an Owner!

For me, especially when evaluating a potential investment, the difference in what can become only an average or possibly good business instead of a great or even exceptional business comes down to the intangible things about the business. Sure, the things like team, traction, target market et al are all important and still they are only conditions of the state that can create an exceptional business.

What do I mean by the intangibles? Simply put character and leadership! … and I imagine several people’s eyes will roll and glaze over at that statement as they ask themselves, ‘so what am I supposed to do with that?’.

Here’s what! Is your way of being in your business the way of an owner? Does what you do and how you do it help other people? Do you do the right thing, especially when no one's watching? The worst type of employee mentality is to do the right thing when it serves personal agenda and do enough to keep your job instead of actually doing your job, which is part of doing the right thing even when no one is around.

Great and exceptional companies and organisations are constructed around people who have the mindset of owners. People who are consciously on a journey to figure out what they believe. People who have the guts to be in a way that helps both the organisation and helps other people. If you are the business owner or a C-level executive it is your responsibility to foster this mindset in the business.

So understand from this, I am not just talking about the business owner or C-level management. Anyone, everyone, in any company or organisation has the ability to be like an owner. If you are the actual owner or part of the C-suite of a larger organisation then it is your responsibility to hire people who have the mindset of an owner and nurture that in them and in the team. But here’s the rub, unless you have it yourself, how can you ever identify it in others to hire them let alone to nurture it in them?

I get it that we all tune into the same radio station … what’s in it for me … and that’s fine as a concept. Only a lot of people take the approach that their reason for being in business or following any profession is simply to put money in their pocket so they can put food on the table, a roof over their head, procreate and have a vacation once a year, and then rinse and repeat with the next generation.  They’re clueless how robotic their lives are.

Helping other people, adding value as a focus, really is not part of the equation. That kind of mindset, is not going to manifest experiences for anyone to be like a leader. You are not going to be like an owner and the time will come when it catches up with you. The way you be in your business will be reflected in the people you hire, their way of being, the type of clients you attract and the results of the business.

It’s innate in the human form to want to promote others or advance others who make others better, not simply those who produce. In a professional setting people feel good about promoting others that make the organization better.

A key part of this is the ability to detach, which you’ve probably heard of and may have explored to some degree. In this context I mean detach from the need to be right, the need to be acknowledged for having a great idea, the need to protect from potential ridicule or worse fear of repercussions. The mindset of an owner has none of these needs.

When they figure out what they believe and are passionate about something people with an owner mindset stand up and speak out no matter what the perceived consequences. It’s a choice rather than a calculated decision. It’s doing the right thing versus backing down because of the thought that "yeah, that's a bit too risky. I don't think so." which is part of the worst type of employee mindset.

Part of that mindset is the person, whether work-floor or management, who thinks that maybe they should figure out what the boss thinks and then act as if that's what they think. Or when the boss suggests a course of action and they disagree with it and think it's a mistake, they say nothing

“Oh but the boss doesn’t like people disagreeing with him so they may not like what I have to say.” … so instead of standing up and speaking out like an owner, they sit down and shut up. That helps no one! … and the crazy thing is that there are a lot of business owners and senior executives who act more like employees than bosses, afraid to upset people and never speak out. Then they wonder why the whole dog and pony show goes to hell and back.

You have to say, "Okay, I'm going to take the risk. I'm going to be myself." Why try being someone else? You can’t. It never works and if the outcome is they are pissed off consider the possibility that the relationship is one that is not in sync and possibly should never have been.

Now, this is not open or creative license to go off the reservation. Far from it.

You have to use good judgment and you have to express yourself respectfully. At the same time you also have to play this game of life with detachment from the outcome. It is in part that detachment that will liberate you to be yourself.

If you master this, I believe will go so much further and take your business so much further than is currently within reach. With over thirty years of business under my belt, I can honestly say I prefer to elevate, promote, work with, invest in somebody who's willing to speak up and disagree, when they do it with conviction and accept responsibility for the outcome of their choices. These are the people I want to be a part of and have them be a part of me. These are the people around who you can build a company.

My wish for you if we work together is to help you to transform your situation so you can shine. So you can be yourself, and be authentically you. So you can do what you are meant to do and build a business that serves others and you and gives you the lifestyle you desire and an exit you deserve. My wish for you is that you and the people in your business get further than your current potential.

Self-belief and Positive Thinking​

The Structure of Beliefs

A belief is a consistently recurring thought. In fact they recur so consistently that they are burned-in and indeed so burned-in that people often have little to no conscious awareness that they are thinking the underlying thoughts that create the belief.

This is part of what we know as default behaviour. It’s also partly the reason why it feels so difficult to change your way of thinking about fundamental stuff, and why many people feel attacked, and the need to defend their beliefs vehemently, when someone expresses their own beliefs that are contrary to the listener.

Creating From a Belief

If you can create a thought in your mind, you have the capability of creating it in the physical world. I’m not saying you’ll know how immediately nor am I saying that you will be the one mechanically, operationally executing what is needed. Frankly if it is a business thing then I hope you aren’t doing the work personally, except the part of it you love doing and are passionate about.

So when believe you can, you can. Although you might not, or perhaps not immediately. Alternatively when you believe you can't, it changes nothing about the fact that you can.

What believing you can’t  does is camouflages the fact that you can and creates another blindspot for you, and ultimately may result in you not being, doing, or having whatever it is you believe you can’t, unless you transform that belief into you can.

There is this seemingly amazing thing that happens though when you simply get started with something and then consistently move in the direction of the belief you have. It is unimportant how small or seemingly insignificant to the whole the first steps are. It is unimportant whether you take the first steps with some degree of apprehension. What is important is that you take those first steps and keep moving.

When you do this you create momentum and a force that is only unstoppable by your own thoughts and beliefs that cause you to stop short or surrender.

The seemingly amazing that happens is that when you look back a day, a week a month or a year or more later when you have achieved it, you’ll get how important it was to simply take the action in the direction of the belief and you’ll find it next to impossible that was ever a possibility that you wouldn’t achieve it.

Start and Then Start Again

Now if you are one of those people, like I am, who are good at starting things and strong at finishing them but really crap at what it in the middle, there are two things to do, one you must do and the other you will want to do, or at least try it on.

The thing you must do is get a team of people around you. Remember you are not meant to be an island.

The thing you will want to do or at least try on is just start, and when you find yourself losing steam or you’ve stopped already, then start again.

One Law, One Principle, Endless Possibilities to Increase Productivity Exponentially​

There is a seemingly endless list of tools with which to improve and increase productivity. Which one is better than the other is a subjective call, so simply make a conscious choice and go with it, once you break free from the eternal consideration loop of which one suits your requirements.

To assist you in that choice, and in terms of being more productive generally, there is one law and one principle which each alone can produce excellent results and when combined create infinite possibilities for you and your team to achieve more in less time.

Doing more in less time is one of the holy grails of the business productivity industry. It can also have nice knock-on effects like profitability.

Most important from my perspective is the possibility for a happier workforce that has the time to enjoy both their personal life and professional life.

You probably already know the one principle and the one law. 

Pareto’s Principle … is also known as the 80/20 rule and states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes; e.g. 80% of the sales comes from 20% of the sales calls, sales people, clients et al

Parkinson’s Law ... is that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

Each are great standalone. My approach combines the two in what I refer to as …

Pareto Meets Parkinson

Restrict the time available for 100% completion to that which is normally required for only completion of the 20% causes; then (strive to) achieve 100% completion in the available time still focusing initially on the most productive 20%.

So if you would normally allocate ten units of time (minutes, hours, days, weeks et al) to complete a task, first restrict that to two units of time and then go for completion of the work that you would normally complete in ten units of time focusing on the most product 20% of the work first.

Happiness & Money: the Chicken & Egg Nemesis of Getting What You Want​

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but happiness is an essential part of being in life if you are going to make money.

Happiness is a state. Making money is a condition in life.

Life is a process of experiences and those experiences are influenced by how we perceive. How we perceive what is happening at any given moment vs what is actually happening.

Our perception is the product of many things and to simplify it for now, two key sources of our perception in life come from internal influences and external influences. You’ll find these referred to in most literature as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

External influences are other people and the physical things all of which are outside of you and the domain you control. The things that motivate you as you desire them or aspire to them. Money, possessions, social standing, and visible accomplishments are external influences. Leveraging others is an external influence, respectively receiving reinforcement or praise from others.

Internal influences are those ethereal things which inspire us to take action at some level. Avoid getting stuck on the word inspiration here. Inspiration doesn’t need to have as a result some great and immediately visible hugely impactful result. See it as the source that it is. The source within you that is nothing and from which everything is possible.

Internal influences are forces within you like, satisfaction, how interesting is the task, belief in your mission or a mission you are a part of, gratitude, understanding, compassion, enjoyment of peers.

Both internal and external influences serve their purpose. External influences give you the images and experiences that appear to make life happen for your internal influences.

We start out thinking that the external influences are leading. That they create, or create the circumstances for, our desires like health, success, abundance, creativity, confidence, love, self-love et al. Most people start out thinking this way and finish in the same place with the same thinking.

The issue here is that external influences are trailing edge. They are the result of and dependant on the internal, ethereal forces before they are experienced. What I mean by these extrinsic motivators being trailing edge is, in terms of space and time, external influences are delayed. They come to you, sometimes, after many, many years. Sometimes sooner depending on the magnitude of the experience that is the external influence.

Think about this. How much you have makes no difference when what you don’t have amounts to so much more. This will mean different things to different people and different things to the same person at different times. So just try it on and let it sit for a bit before letting that voice in your head react with some default response.

Internal influences are always now. Whenever they are there they are there now. They are the building blocks of the process of experiences that is life. You have internal influences all the time and you can transform them in a moment without effort and at will.

Professionally if what you do is driven primarily by extrinsic motivators, you sure as hell better have some of the intrinsic motivators because if you don’t, you’ll never hang in there long enough ‘make it’, to achieve the external influences you have in your mind that you desire. Personally, same thing.

Enjoyment in what you do is key. You have to be passionate about whatever it is you are doing or getting yourself into if you want to be able to sustain it for whatever length of time your relate to the idea of having it or being it.

There is a an innate connection between internal influences and high performance and a high correlation between high performance and the achieving a very high level of success in the related area of the performance.

I’m not saying don’t focus at all on the external influences. By all means focus but only dabble there and dwell in the internal influences.

In terms of your professional life, whatever business you chose to do, make sure you have enough internal influences that you enjoy the journey as you work toward the destination (the exit). If you don’t you won’t have the staying power to achieve your full potential either personally or professionally in that business.

Another thing will also happen when you have intrinsic motivators. After the exit as you reflect you’ll find you actually enjoy the journey more than the exit itself, no matter what the payout, and you will look forward to the next journey more than the joy you experienced over the exit just passed. This has been my experience and I’ve had five big exits in my life as well as a bunch of smaller ones, in addition to the crash and burn victims of business that we chalk up to research and development in the entrepreneurial space.

It's easier to measure external influences. That’s part of their external nature, they are measurable. You can contrast them against each other. You can hold them up against something else and measure them in some way. Internal influences, only you know. I know whether somebody leads a wealthy lifestyle. We can see it and measure it. Everyone can and everyone will have their own take on what they see and what it means.

Only I know how much I enjoy a task. I can communicate that to someone but they don’t see how much I enjoy it. They only get to experience my outward expression of how much I enjoy it; but the way I express it may not resonate with them in the same way as it has meaning to me.  So only I can answer the question of how much I enjoy something. No one else can tell me the answer to that.

Take ownership of how you be in life. Look inside yourself in both your personal and professional life and let the internal influences drive your thinking and subsequently your actions. Leave the external influences as images of possibilities to be experienced as a result that you give no meaning to and you can detach from as quickly as you have perceived it respectively experienced it.

Define Your Own Success

One of the reasons I put The Hedonist Entrepreneur Community together is I think there’s a lot of confusion or cognitive clutter about people generally and especially business owners and how they are supposed to manage their personal and business life.

External forces are constantly attempting to influence how you think and what you see, defining for you what your experiences in life mean. Are you successful? Are you struggling? Are you ….? ... fill in the blank.

So the challenge in both business and personal life is not how to become a success; equally it is not how to meet others’ definition of success. The challenge both personally and professionally as you move through your experiences of life is how to reach your own unique potential.

If being successful is what matters to you, it often means you are trying to meet someone else’s definition of what success is. Seriously! Think about it!

Without the contrast of other people’s thoughts and ideas which you are exposed to consciously and subconsciously at least thousands of times a day, how would you have this thing you call success that you strive for.

Defining success usually it involves being able to measure one thing against another. Different situations require different metrics, or achieving certain status, preeminence and prominence, fame and fortune, or whatever. All of these are external manifestations.

There is another way of defining success, and it has nothing to do with contrast or the opinions of others.

Reaching your own unique potential is fulfilling. It is much more satisfying than play a game of keeping up with the ideas, thoughts, opinions and expectations of others; and ultimately it may not meet others definition of success. So what!?

Reaching your own unique potential means creating for yourself, for your personal and business life, your own definition of success and then develop who you are so that you be the person that does the things that are a fit for your skills, and does the things that are a fit for what you are passionate about.  

You become the person who experiences life through performance of your unique talents. In the process you soon cease to be the go to person in your business and personal life. The one that has to do everything and be everything for everyone and instead the people around you personally and professionally will shift. Some will shift literally out of your life. others will shift in how they occur to you and, in business, the outcomes they achieve for your company, division or team.

Success in and of itself is insignificant and ultimately satisfies no one. It is a competitive analysis and a distraction to achieving your full potential.

Conscious Assessment of Your Strengths and Weaknesses​

What are you good at? … and I mean REALLY GOOD at?!

The ability to reach your potential and do what you are actually meant to do starts with understanding your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses.

It used to amaze me that most people don’t know their strengths and weaknesses, until I took a good long look in the mirror and realised at one time .. at that time! ... I was the same.

I find most people will hazard a guess at their strengths and declare them with ... a somewhat sheepish response.

When it comes to their weaknesses the majority of people I have spoken to (and I’ve spoken to a lot) have a hard time acknowledging their weaknesses, especially if you ask them to write them down and make a list. It takes real honesty with oneself to acknowledge our weaknesses verbally and/or in writing.

That whole processing in the mind thing is mostly a little voice inside our head that will continuously battle with you to justify every weakness you attempt to acknowledge through reflection … until you get truly conscious with yourself.

There is this thing lingering beneath the surface of the human awareness that suggests you need to be good at the stuff the people around you are good at. That’s crazy!

This thing is fed by different core psychological drives that vary from person to person. This thing is that same little voice.

For those people who are self afflicted with this, and that’s the majority, it causes them to be less productive and fall well short of their potential.

Let’s add some contrast.

In your home you expect a water pipe to be a water pipe and a tap (faucet) to be a tap. If the tap were a pipe the water would keep flowing and if the pipe were a tap no water would find its way from the mains. Same goes for electrical cables, wall sockets and switches. Each has its own unique purpose.

Humans are the same. What’s yours? … and be grateful there are millions of people out there who compliment you.

The simple truth is this. Everyone is good at a collection of things to some degree and then not as good at others. The clue here is figuring out your strengths and weaknesses, ideally both personally and professionally, and subsequently what are the areas where you have varying degrees of room for improvement.

Professionally you then have to assess them vis-a-vis a specific job.

For example, If I want to be a lawyer, there are specific groups of strengths I need and weaknesses that have no impact. If I want to be an bus driver, the strengths are different. If I want to be an AI developer, it's another group again.

Bottomline is you need to understand your own professional strengths and weaknesses and then align it with what is required of you to be able to do very well in order to be exceptional in your chosen profession. Same goes in the personal realm.

A simple human misconception is the notion that we can do it all ourselves. Ha!

Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses by yourself is not something you want to do let alone will be able to do effectively. We all have blind spots and out biggest blindspot is seeing what we are really good at and what we are really crap at.

The people who see you in action and watch you are the very people who can offer advice. Here’s the rub. Their advice is based on their observations and perceptions; their own programming.

Take said advice therefore as such and still avoid the natural bias to simply discard it because of that realisation.

On the one hand their advice is their subjective opinion base on their own experience and the stories they’ve made up about those experiences. On the other hand, subjectivity aside, they offer a lens, adjusted to a different focal point than yours, through which to view yourself.

Does any of this mean you ask random people who may see you regularly for an opinion? Well, you could and as far as very general stuff goes (with the occasional sprinkling of gold dust that could happen serendipitously) it can be helpful. For deeper access though you’ll want it to be from people who observe you in action and have the skills and experience to offer an opinion specific to whatever it is you are doing or seeking to achieve. After that, ideally, a coach or mentor would give you some focused advice on ways of being and doing, the techniques and tools for improving.

Unless you are open to listen and hear the kind of stuff you don't want to hear and unless you can avoid giving off energetically a vibration that you have no desire to hear feedback you’ll remain stuck in very close proximity to where you already are.

The three mistakes most people make is one or more of

  1. they don't truly understand their own personal and professional strengths and weaknesses,
  2. they are closed off to advice from others, and are unwilling to try on feedback on what they're really good at respectively what they are not good at, and
  3. they don't align their strengths, weaknesses nor the advice they receive to a specific professional or personal pursuit.

When I work with people I encourage them to have a systemisation mindset and create systems in their business and personal lives; and this is one of the foundational systems you need, asking for and gathering feedback then reflecting on it and acting on what is relevant after conscious reflection, since your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses are really the bedrock and building blocks of whatever you're here to do. 

3 Stage Process to Building Real Relationships

You Are Not Meant to be an Island.

In order to grow a successful business you need more than yourself, your laptop or mobile phone and a data connection. Follow this simple three stage process to create real relationships and build a bridge to get off the island.

You Need Help

No. Not like you need to see a therapist! Or maybe you do! None of my business.

What concerns me in the context of this community is are you able to accept help? I mean really accept help. It’s important to explore this aspect of your way of being. Reaching your potential in business and doing what you’re really here to do, what you’re really meant to do, comes with the requirements to accept help.

You can't do this alone. You need coaching to do it. You need constructive and candid feedback from people who can hold a mirror up to you and let you see the huge blind spots around and behind you. You need people you can talk to openly about your fears, your insecurities, your doubts without loading more of the same onto the experience. Some of the time, you just need people to talk to for a reality check. We all do. You know what I’m talking about.

The self made man/woman concept is nice and warm and fuzzy and that’s all it really is. You can see it so often on social media channels, especially Facebook, loads of people boasting about becoming millionaires with this or that system that they discovered, or by being a speaker et al. Most of the time implying and undoubtedly deluding themselves that they are self made.

Newsflash, you can trip over becoming a millionaire these days. The big one to aim for if financial status is your thing is billionaire, and that will definitely take a load of help.

Now if you still haven’t made your first million or are struggling to regain that status after losing it, AND if you are the sort of person inclined to take offence at the comment above, get over it or leave. I don’t really mind either way. Come back when you are prepared to try some stuff on that doesn’t sit comfortable in your default space.

if you still haven’t made your first million or are struggling to regain that status after losing it, your in the right place because I can guarantee the stuff I talk about in this community is precisely the type of stuff you need to reach or regain that milestone … and when you do you’ll join the ranks of the people who realise how minor, unimportant and meaningless it is and who aspire to much greater.

Relationships Are Currency

You don’t need to be a brain surgeon, hold a PhD or even be a rocket scientist to know that the world we live in is ultra-hyper connected and the speed with which you can become an online connection of other people and communicate with with them whether invited or uninvited is increasing by the second. I’m not saying that’s good thing or a bad thing. It simply is which allows it to be both good and bad depending on the context.

I find when interviewing new clients, who invariably have a huge challenge or difficult situation they want help with, they really want to talk in-depth about what they are experiencing. One of the questions I often ask is who have you talked to and the answer is always, less a few exceptions, noe one at all. The exceptions are, “I spoke to my accountant or I spoke to my lawyer or I know this person who is a coach … and that is how I ended up contacting you”

What should be clear from this, and if you are honest most probably to some degree large or small about your own life, is that people don't have many real relationships. What I mean by relationship is a sincere and unbridled level of mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual acceptance, mutual understanding, mutual tolerance, mutual compassion, mutual patience. Some connections have a one or several of these but how many do you have that have them all. I can count mine one hand.

I understand now more than ever something my grandfather told me as a boy. He said if by the end of your life you can count your real friends on one hand and the fingers are full you are very lucky. I didn’t get it then. I get it now. He died at the age of 94.

There are some simple things you can do to foster real relationships and that’s self-disclosure. OMB! Yes I am saying what you think I’m saying … no matter how much fear it strikes in you if you’re an introvert, and no matter how much you may have a default response of “bah, I do that all of the time” if you’re an extrovert … no you don’t … not really ... and both of the above if you are an introvert/extrovert. BTW I’m the last one.

Building real relationships requires these things I’ve mentioned which means if you want real relationships you have to tell the other person something fundamental about yourself. Not this superficial crap that people post online all of the time. Maybe something about your childhood upbringing, about your parents, about the experiences in your life that have occurred to you as traumatic. Tell them something about yourself that will help them to better understand who you are and your way of being.

So many people are wound up so tight and closed off they never do it and in their mind could never do it; and it is all in their mind.

The next stage of the process to build real relationships and a bridge off your island is to ask genuine questions of other people about themselves. Questions that will help you to better understand who they are and their way of being.

How often have you experienced, or heard of this happening or done this yourself. A senior person in a company is with someone more junior. They may be at lunch, at an event, at the water cooler, on a road trip or wherever. The conversation, if there is any, is superficial, all pleasantries and small talk.

They leave the experience knowing as little about the person as when they started it. They learn bugger all if anything. The simple reason is because they never ask real questions. A lot of people are not good at asking questions. Some are just plain disinterested in other people and the world around them. A lot of other people hide behind a fear of something. Fear of a real conversation, fear of getting too personal, fear of prying into other people’s business, fear of having to reciprocate!! That last one is a doozy!

Seek Advice

The last stage of this simple process is you need to seek advice? Stop thinking you can do it all in your head or even do it all by getting it out of your head and onto paper. I have a really good technique for that by the way, and still, as good as it is, that alone is not going to do it for you. In both personal and professional life seeking advice is invaluable, and again I don’t mean visiting a therapist unless that is what you really want to do.

Organise your thoughts about a situation that you want advice on or an area of your personal or professional life where you have self-doubt and ask advice.

Has anyone ever asked your advice about something? Do you remember how good you feel when another person asks your advice? You feel pretty awesome right? Valued, appreciated. You sense gratitude from the other person, and at least subconsciously if not consciously you feel gratitude yourself toward that person. People asking you or your advice are showing you a lot of respect. At least this is the way I feel.

So why is any of this or this process important? Well it helps people to understand you better, it helps you to understand other people better, it builds trust and these as a minimum help build real relationships, and you need to have relationships with people if you are going to get anywhere in life personally and most definitely if you are going to build a business where you are not the goto person and where you have a viable exit option you can execute on. You simply cannot be an island.

Over the last three plus decades of creating, operating and exiting businesses, and helping other people do the same, I’ve found that the times when people struggle in their lives or have regrets, then this is one of the major areas that they failed  give focus to and work on.

You see I’ve done all these things that I’m telling you about. I’ve made these mistakes in life. Experienced them first hand. That’s why I know them. One of the sure fire reasons some of my ventures have been failures is I’ve done the whole hermitpreneur. I mean it’s so counterintuitive to achieving anything and it’s both laughable and ridiculous.

If you want to achieve the outcomes you desire in life, if you want to have a business that is actually a business and not a self imposed job, a business that allows you the freedom to enjoy the things you had in mind to do when you first started the business, then you need people and you need to have real relationships with those people.