On this anniversary of the day that changed the course of American history, I must reflect on how September 11, 2001, changed me both as a person and a businessman.
Seventeen years ago, I was running my first business, AbraCadabra Digital Printing on the 18th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower in New York City. Business was booming. We were generating about $4 million a year with 30 employees and five locations across New York and New Jersey.
I was finishing up a meeting with my business manager when the first plane hit the North Tower at 8:46 a.m. Seventeen minutes later, we were standing on the streets of New York as the second plane crashed into the building where we had just stood.
Following the events of 9/11, my once thriving business suffered as many others did at the time. My sales plummeted to $600,000 in 2003. I finally sold the business in 2004 for $325,000.
Seeing so many lives destroyed and losing my business was a major setback for me both professionally and personally that, ultimately, taught me a number of enduring lessons about perseverance, rebuilding from the ashes and the importance of consistently reinvesting in myself. Although it is hard for anyone who was not there to relate to the extreme tragedy experienced on 9/11, the lessons I learned can apply to turning around any struggling business and to every entrepreneur looking to start again with a new venture.
Recognize when it’s time to let go and start over.
Business in New York was dead after 9/11. Our most profitable branch had been destroyed and the business was suffering immensely. I had a family to care for and had to let go employees who I’d been working with for years. When my business revenues dropped to just 30 percent of what they’d been just years before, I knew it was time to let this venture go.
Business owners and business persons alike often make the mistake of holding on to what they know, when letting go could be their best shot at future success. As a business owner, when you see your business is failing and know the chances of it improving in the foreseeable future are slim, it’s imperative to know it’s time to move on.
This means reinventing yourself and reinventing your business — not quitting entrepreneurship for good. Stay in the same field of business if that’s what you’re passionate about, but find that new sweet spot with a brighter, clearer future that gets new energy moving and reignites the excitement behind the business.
When I decided to sell AbraCadabra Digital Printing and join Cartridge Word, I was entering into somewhat unknown territory. I’d known very little about franchising, advertising such products, the top competitors in the industry, etc., but I made the bold move to purchase the franchise rights to Cartridge World when there were zero U.S. locations. Now there are 287, of which 70 are mine. Sometimes letting go of smaller ventures can lead you to greener pastures.
Reinvest in yourself.
As an entrepreneur, you are your biggest asset. You are the driving force behind the business; therefore, you should always seek to learn as much as you can about your business and industry for when big decisions need to be made.
Make the time to take additional courses throughout the year to learn and grow. Whether it be a business course on the latest techniques or technology, or a marketing and advertising course covering modern trends and creativity, always work to reinvent yourself and grow your knowledge base. I typically allott five to 10 days a year to attend a courses so I keep growing and widening my capabilities.
Furthermore, have a mentor to help guide you and advise you during your business journey. As your interests or field of business change, seek new mentors who can guide you along the way. In my experience, those who’ve made it, so to speak, are typically happy to help others make their dreams come true. Do your best to return the favor. Meet with fellow entrepreneurs, learn their stories and share your own. Networking is fundamental to growing your business.
Take responsibility for your business.
Whether times are good or bad, you need to realize that the state of your business is a reflection of how you, and you alone, are running the business. If times are bad, but you insist on running your business like you’ve done for the past 10 years, you can’t expect anything to change. If catastrophe strikes like it did on 9/11, be prepared to make major changes and adapt, even if that means leaving one venture behind and starting a new one.
To run a successful business, you need the energy, goals and dedication to self-improvement to keep it running and thriving. All businesses can get stale, but it is up to you as the backbone behind the company to make changes and keep the energy high.
When I decided to take one of my Cartridge World locations back to the new World Trade Center, I was the only business tenant pre-9/11 to return after the attacks. I knew this was a bold move, but a move that ignited my spirits and in turn, my business.
Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Greg Carafello
In the 2015 musical Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton is championed for furthering his career “by working a lot harder, by being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter.” In a 2016 episode of Saturday Night Live, Benjamin Franklin is featured as a fictional guest at the very first Thanksgiving. And in the 2018 Netflix original Set It Up, one character assesses his finances at an upscale restaurant: “I’m no Rockefeller.”
There’s a reason why these historical powerhouses are still regularly mentioned in theater, television and film hundreds of years after their time: They were legends when it comes to wealth, philanthropy and business. Whether you’re a top-level CEO looking for advice from the greats or a first-time entrepreneur seeking motivation and inspiration, here are six iconic figures and some of their best business advice.
“My ambition is prevalent, so that I contemn the grovelling condition of a clerk or the like, to which my fortune condemns me, and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station … I mean to prepare the way for futurity.”
— Alexander Hamilton in a 1769 letter
Hamilton was born poor on an island in the Caribbean, and he wrote this letter at age 12, dreaming of something bigger for himself and his career. By 17, when a hurricane devastated his home, the orphan — who was then working as a clerk — wrote an account of the disaster in the local newspaper. Local merchants recognized his skill and took up a collection to send him to North America for schooling. Hamilton would go on to become a founding father and champion the United States economic system, but it all started with big dreams and almost incomparable determination. Hamilton visualized himself “prepar[ing] the way for futurity,” and that type of steely resolve is invaluable in any venture.
“[I] retain[ed] only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence, never using, when I advanced any thing that may possibly be disputed, the words ‘certainly,’ ‘undoubtedly’ or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, ‘I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so’; ‘it appears to me,’ or ‘I should think it so and so, for such and such reasons’; or ‘I imagine it to be so’; or ‘it is so, if I am not mistaken.’ This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me.”
— Benjamin Franklin in his 1789 autobiography
Franklin, one of the country’s founding fathers and author of The Way to Wealth, was also an esteemed inventor, as he’s widely regarded as the father of electricity. He attributes much of his success to the fact that he was always a voracious reader, so hungry for knowledge that he would often stay up with new books late into the night. He also loved to debate, and it’s why he adopted the habit of never using absolute terms unless he was describing something he knew absolutely to be true — instead, he favored phrases such as “it appears,” “I should think,” “I imagine” and “if I am not mistaken.” Franklin said it’s important to speak in such a way; otherwise, if you speak with absoluteness and are wrong, others likely won’t correct you — meaning you will not learn. This intentionality of language is vital for any prominent figure in business, especially in meetings, statements and interviews. Speaking with caveats is widely seen as a sign of intelligence, as few things in life are truly certain.
“We assemble thousands of operatives in the factory, and in the mine, of whom the employer can know little or nothing and to whom he is little better than a myth. All intercourse between them is at an end. Rigid castes are formed, and, as usual, mutual ignorance breeds mutual distrust. Each caste is without sympathy with the other and ready to credit anything disparaging in regard to it … Often there is friction between the employer and the employed, between capital and labor, between rich and poor.”
— Andrew Carnegie in his 1889 book
In The Gospel of Wealth, Carnegie laid out why he would be donating the bulk of his earnings — about $350 million in 1889 dollars — to universities, libraries and other organizations. But in this passage, the steel magnate, business leader and philanthropist addresses the dark side of capitalism. Although Carnegie goes on to say he believes the benefits of competition outweigh the negatives, he admits that the disconnect it can create between employer and employees — and between the wealthy and the working class — is significant. Any successful executive would do well to note this and use their influence to turn the idea on its head, staying relatively accessible to both employees and customers.
John D. Rockefeller
“Criticism which is deliberate, sober and fair is always valuable, and it should be welcomed by all who desire progress. I have had at least my full share of adverse criticism, but I can truly say that it has not embittered me nor left me with any harsh feeling against a living soul. Nor do I wish to be critical of those whose conscientious judgment, frankly expressed, differs from my own. No matter how noisy the pessimists may be, we know that the world is getting better steadily and rapidly, and that is a good thing to remember in our moments of depression or humiliation.”
— John D. Rockefeller in his 1909 book
Rockefeller was an oil magnate, prominent businessman and philanthropist, and one lasting part of his legacy was his status as one of the wealthiest men in history and America’s first billionaire. In 1918, he was worth $1.2 billion, but that would amount to $21 billion in 2017 dollars. But Rockefeller didn’t build his legendary Standard Oil worrying about naysayers. He took measured criticism into account and used it to propel himself towards his goals, but he strived never to let “adverse criticism” drain him of his time or energy. Any business leader would do well to listen to every piece of advice without letting it sidetrack them from their ultimate goals — in other words, take others’ advice with a “grain of salt.”
Madam C.J. Walker
“I am a woman that came from the cotton fields of the south. I was promoted from there to the washtub. Then I was promoted to the cook kitchen, and from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods and preparations … I have built my own factory on my own ground.”
— Madam C.J. Walker in a 1912 speech
Widely regarded to be the country’s first female self-made millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove) made her fortune by way of a successful line of hair care products marketed towards black women. The hair care system she developed — which utilized a combination of lotions and the use of iron combs — would later be deemed the “Walker system,” and her talent for self-promotion garnered loyalty from both her customers and the thousands of door-to-door saleswomen she trained. But Walker’s origins — as the first child born free to parents who were both recently freed slaves — meant she had to work much harder to build her business than her contemporaries, and she started with just $1.50 in cash capital. “The girls and women of our race must not be afraid to take hold of business endeavor and, by patient industry, close economy, determined effort and close application to business, wring success out of a number of business opportunities that lie at their very doors,” she said in the same speech.
“Power and machinery, money and goods, are useful only as they set us free to live. They are but means to an end. For instance, I do not consider the machines which bear my name simply as machines. If that was all there was to it I would do something else. I take them as concrete evidence of the working out of a theory of business which I hope is something more than a theory of business — a theory that looks toward making this world a better place in which to live.”
— Henry Ford in his 1922 book
Ford was a business magnate, mass production innovator and founder of Ford Motor Company. His Model T Ford is widely regarded as having brought affordable automobiles to the everyday consumer, as 15 million were sold between 1908 and 1927. While Ford enjoyed notable wealth — his 1918 fortune of $100 million would equal $1.8 billion today — he felt it vital to impart that money is only a means to freedom and, outside of that purpose, it means nothing. He felt similarly about business in general — that any venture should ultimately be about making the world a “better place in which to live.” Adopting that very value could help propel the long-term success of any business leader.
Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Hayden Field
Not long ago I was reflecting on a conversation that I had with my spouse. I thought that I had not been a very good listener in a conversation that we had about an hour earlier. Knowing that she was in the next room, I called out to her, “Stephanie, I was thinking about that conversation we just had, and I was thinking I need to apologize for not listening or giving you my full attention when you were talking. Will you forgive me?” She responded, “For which time?”
I thought I had blown it, but I had no idea of how bad of a listener I had been. That is the problem. Most of us think that we are average-to-good listeners. Unfortunately, that is the status we all occupy in our own mind.
Most of the time, what gets in the way of being an effective listener is our thoughts. We have this little voice in our head that is constantly judging, evaluating, criticizing, analyzing and editorializing everything that we hear. When I did research among a number of managers and asked them why they didn’t listen, they gave the following explanations for not listening:
“Sometimes I listen to see if I agree or not.”
“I usually am thinking about what I should say in response.”
“I listen to understand if what the person is saying will have a negative impact on me.”
“I don’t listen to some people, because I already know what they are going to say.”
“I know I don’t listen, because I am thinking more about what I am thinking than to what the person is saying.”
Notice in all of these responses, the individual is preoccupied with his or her thoughts. When this happens, they are obviously not listening nor capturing the sum total of the messages that are being sent.
Here are some easy-to-use strategies that will help you become a fantastic listener.
1. Recognize and suspend your thinking.
If your thinking is a distraction, then you must learn to manage the voice in your head. Recognize that the little voice is competing for airtime — and set it aside. If you can’t do it, it would be better to excuse yourself from the conversation and reschedule when you can give your full attention. Listening and attending to others is not something that you can fake until you make it. People know when you are not present.
2. Don’t assume anything.
If you find yourself making negative judgments about what the other person is saying, shift to asking questions that will confirm or disconfirm your thinking. For example, you might ask, “What data led you to that assumption?” or, “Help me understand how you came to your opinion.” Asking good questions will add depth to your understanding and a richness of learning about the individual. This won’t happen if you make assumptions and never ask a question. Ask yourself, “What will I miss if I don’t ask?”
3. Eliminate distractions.
We are so preoccupied with the use of electronic gadgets today. It is a wonder that anyone can give their full attention to another individual. Close your laptop, silence your phone and put them outside your reach. Giving your attention to a person and then allowing your electronic devices to interrupt the conversation is highly disrespectful. You wouldn’t want to be interrupted by someone answering his or her email or an incoming text in the middle of a conversation that you wanted to hold. Do people the service of giving them your full attention.
4. Demonstrate good body language.
Use clusters of nonverbal behaviors to show interest in what people are saying. For example, mirror the eye contact that is being given to you by the person who is speaking. Lean slightly toward the person to show interest. Use your hands in a gesture of making an offer when sharing an idea, or gesture with your fingers that you want to hear more.
Sit on the same level as the person to whom you are speaking. Turn your body to face the person and allow for ample spacing so that they will feel comfortable. Using your body to demonstrate interest in what the other person is saying will put the other person at ease and communicate that what they have to share is important to you.
5. Clarify your understanding.
At any time during the conversation, don’t hesitate to summarize what you believe you have heard. Doing so demonstrates that you are trying to understand the individual. Don’t worry if the person tells you that you have not entirely understood what they were saying. They will correct any misinterpretations that you may have made. What is important is that you demonstrate your understanding while checking the clarity of your understanding.
6. Listen more than you speak.
We were given two ears and one mouth. We ought to listen twice as much as we speak. As you listen, don’t steal the other person’s talking turn. Stealing a turn occurs when you grab the focus of the conversation away from the speaker, and then share your experiences or stories to compliment the message of the speaker.
People with different conversation styles may do this as a way of establishing common ground. But such behavior is unusually looked upon as disrespect. If you are not asking questions to deepen the conversation or to clarify your understanding by summarizing, then you are probably talking too much. Additionally, those who are more assertive frequently cut people off or finish their sentences. Such behavior is also not acceptable.
7. Be patient.
Learning to listen and give your full attention to another person is not easy — even for a practiced listener. Learning to give your full attention to someone over a longer period of time if you are preoccupied with all the things that fill up your agenda requires patience and focus.
Before you listen to another, you would do well to assess the amount of time you can give to listen to an individual. If you realize that you may not have the time because of other concerns, then schedule a time when you will have the time. For example, you might say, “This is a really important conversation, and I would like to talk about it more.” “Unfortunately, I have another meeting scheduled in a few minutes.” “Would it be alright if we picked up the conversation when I return?”
You need to take responsibility to manage your listening more effectively.
8. Ask for meaning.
One of strategies that will help you become a more effective listener is to realize that there is meaning behind the feelings, words and actions that people express or display. If you are in doubt about the meaning of a person’s message, then ask for the meaning. For example, if you observed that someone seems to become defensive, you might say, “I am noticing that you are beginning to become upset. Tell me why.” Or if someone said something that you didn’t understand, you might offer, “After the meeting I heard you say, ‘Oh great! Now what are we supposed to do?!’ Can you tell me what you mean by that?”
What is important is for you to observe what people are feeling, saying and doing, and then try to gain further understanding about what all of that means. Notice that this skill really requires that you give your full attention to the person and notice what messages they are displaying. The challenge is uncovering the meaning hidden behind the message.
9. Apologize when in doubt.
It is not difficult to become unconsciously conscious in a moment and quit listening and attending. If someone calls you on your behavior, admit your distraction, apologize — and reengage. Offering a heart-felt apology will go a long way to building your relationships and establishing your sincerity.
Becoming a fantastic listener requires skill and practice. It also requires a degree of awareness on your part of where and with whom you need to improve your listening ability. We don’t intentionally go out of our way not to listen to people. We must realize that becoming an exceptional listener requires a conscious and deliberate effort to understand and connect with others.
After all, everyone wants to know that they are heard and understood.
Originally posted on entrepreneur.com by John Stoker
When it comes to productivity, we all face the same challenge—there are only 24 hours in a day.
Yet some people seem to have twice the time; they have an uncanny ability to get things done. Even when juggling multiple projects, they reach their goals without fail.
“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose. –Thomas Edison”
We all want to get more out of life. There’s arguably no better way to accomplish this than by finding ways to do more with the precious time you’ve been given.
It feels incredible when you leave the office after an ultra-productive day. It’s a workplace high that’s hard to beat.
With the right approach, you can make this happen every day.
You don’t need to work longer or push yourself harder—you just need to work smarter.
Ultra-productive people know this. As they move through their days they rely on productivity hacks that make them far more efficient. They squeeze every drop out of every hour without expending any extra effort.
The best thing about these hacks is they’re easy to implement. So easy that you can begin using them today.
Give them a read, give them a whirl, and watch your productivity soar.
1. They Never Touch Things Twice
Productive people never put anything in a holding pattern, because touching things twice is a huge time-waster. Don’t save an email or a phone call to deal with later. As soon as something gets your attention you should act on it, delegate it or delete it.
2. They Get Ready for Tomorrow Before They Leave the Office
Productive people end each day by preparing for the next. This practice accomplishes two things: it helps you solidify what you’ve accomplished today, and it ensures you’ll have a productive tomorrow. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a great way to end your workday.
“For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. –Benjamin Franklin”
3. They Eat Frogs
“Eating a frog” is the best antidote for procrastination, and ultra-productive people start each morning with this tasty treat. In other words, they do the least appetizing, most dreaded item on their to-do list before they do anything else. After that, they’re freed up to tackle the stuff that excites and inspires them.
4. They Fight The Tyranny Of The Urgent
The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. This creates a huge problem as urgent actions often have little impact.
If you succumb to the tyranny of the urgent, you can find yourself going days, or even weeks, without touching the important stuff. Productive people are good at spotting when putting out fires is getting in the way of their performance, and they’re willing to ignore or delegate the things that get in the way of real forward momentum.
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. –William Penn”
5. They Stick to the Schedule During Meetings
Meetings are the biggest time waster there is. Ultra-productive people know that a meeting will drag on forever if they let it, so they inform everyone at the onset that they’ll stick to the intended schedule. This sets a limit that motivates everyone to be more focused and efficient.
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. –Michael Altshuler”
6. They Say No
No is a powerful word that ultra-productive people are not afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, they avoid phrases such as I don’t think I can or I’m not certain. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Learn to use no, and it will lift your mood, as well as your productivity.
7. They Only Check E-mail At Designated Times
Ultra-productive people don’t allow e-mail to be a constant interruption. In addition to checking e-mail on a schedule, they take advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender. They set alerts for their most important vendors and their best customers, and they save the rest until they reach a stopping point. Some people even set up an autoresponder that lets senders know when they’ll be checking their e-mail again.
8. They Don’t Multitask
Ultra-productive people know that multitasking is a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. The researchers found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time.
But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? The Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it helps their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers—those who multitask a lot and feel that it boosts their performance—were actually worse at multitasking than those who like to do a single thing at a time. The frequent multitaskers performed worse because they had more trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower at switching from one task to another. Ouch.
Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
9. They Go off The Grid
Don’t be afraid to go off grid when you need to. Give one trusted person a number to call in case of emergency, and let that person be your filter. Everything has to go through them, and anything they don’t clear has to wait. This strategy is a bulletproof way to complete high-priority projects.
“One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week. –Charles Richards”
10. They Delegate
Ultra-productive people accept the fact that they’re not the only smart, talented person in their organization. They trust people to do their jobs so that they can focus on their own.
11. They Put Technology to Work for Them
Technology catches a lot of flak for being a distraction, but it can also help you focus. Ultra-productive people put technology to work for them. Beyond setting up filters in their e-mail accounts so that messages are sorted and prioritized as they come in, they use apps like IFTTT, which sets up contingencies on your smart phone and alerts you when something important happens. This way, when your stock hits a certain price or you have an email from your best customer, you’ll know it. There’s no need to be constantly checking your phone for status updates.
Bringing It All Together
We’re all searching for ways to be more efficient and productive. I hope these strategies help you to find that extra edge.
Originally posted on TalentSmart.com by Travis Bradberry, PhD
There is nothing more valuable to any team or company than people of good character. These types of people hold traits within themselves that separate them from others. When hiring, the one thing we want to look for is an idea of their character.
If we hire a person with substandard character but who can produce, we may benefit financially but will deal with a host of problems caused by their poor character that become more of a headache than it’s worth. We want to hire and work alongside people who can produce but who also demonstrate exceptional character. In my new book Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life, I discuss the importance of exceptional character. Here are some of the traits I define.
At the core of any person with good character is honesty. They do their work clean, according to what is right, and never cheat or lie to get ahead of the curve. People with good character are who they say they are and deliver what has been promised by them and expected of them. Honesty is what separates the activator from the procrastinator, the dreamer from the doer, and the successful from the non-successful. When it comes to character, we are not what we think, we are not what we say, we are what we do.
Character is largely developed from suffering the trials and errors of life. Survivors stick, they don’t quit. People of exceptional character do not quit when times get tough, nor do they treat others terribly when things don’t go their way. People who possess exceptional character have the faith and tough-mindedness to stay in the grind and get things accomplished regardless of the odds. There is a lot to be said about staying power. The more others quit under the same stressors, the more opportunity and grit the person of good character has to make sure to secure what they set out to achieve.
People of good character are loving people. They take the time to care. They understand that when people feel cared for they will do almost anything for them. In reality, there is no way to fake genuine caring. It has a completely different vibe than “selling” or “convincing.” People of good character impact others as deeply as they do and people want to work along side them because of their loving and genuine nature. When we work around, for or with people who are caring there is less absenteeism, fewer missed or canceled meetings and higher rates of productivity because people enjoy working around those who raise their morale.
When people possess good character, leadership is the natural side effect. People want to follow those who have suffered, those who possess self-awareness, patience and the ability to rise above. No matter their title in the business world, people of exceptional character draw a following with word of mouth supporting and promoting their reputation as someone others should invest in learning from and working with. When a person’s character is authentic, they live with a quiet resolve about them that others feel compelled to trust, emulate and follow.
Self-control is one the most powerful traits of people who possess exceptional character. They have a calm demeaner as demonstrated in their ability to be patient and listen to others. It takes a certain amount of self-control to listen rather than talk. It is this elegant nature of those with good character that not only makes them a bit mysterious but also so interesting to others. People of good character recognize that gentleness is their greatest strength. They are above the pettiness of right and wrong when in conflict or facing challenge. They are more interested in finding the path to the solution that involves inclusion and innovation; ideas given by everyone.
6. Hard worker
Good character and hard work go hand in hand. None of us are born with good character. Good character is developed over time and through the virtues of hard work and commitment. We cannot develop our character without having to work hard and to suffer through times of conflict and challenge. The reason hard work develops character is because it is the only thing that can outdo and outlast both genius and talent.
More than anything, people of good character are deeply driven to help others. They do not view success and selfishness as being at all compatible. Once person’s success is also another’s. The greatest thing people of good character believe in and do is help others succeed. These types of people will jump in and help in any way they can, especially when it is good for the team. Success is never viewed as a one-man position. Success is always a team effort.
Perhaps the greatest standout quality of people with exceptional character is how they inspire others nearly effortlessly. They don’t often need to be center stage or the person who’s getting all the attention; rather, they are the calm force who people listen to when they talk. Everything about these types of people make them stand out from the rest. Their most notable traits being great composure and smart decision-making.
Possessing exceptional character is more than being praised for our talent or intellect. Those are things common to all. We each have our intellectual gifts and unique talents. Those who possess good character stand out from the rest in the honing of their skills and intellect, making sure to use it for good rather than self-promotion. Good character is not given to us, like talents and IQ. It is something people have to cultivate though thought, choice, courage, commitment and dogged determination.
Originally posted on Entrepreneur.com by Sherrie Campbell
When you decide to become an entrepreneur, you’re choosing to walk the road of the unknown. That’s what you’re getting into. There’s no other way around it.
You could run out of money. You could get featured on the front page of the New York Times, then have to scramble to handle the influx of new business. You’re going to be in uncomfortable, weird, bad and great situations because your job is dynamic. Every month that you grow and your business changes, it’s going to be different.
You can’t guarantee anything — except that you’re going to be uncomfortable at different points. And, when you know that, you can decide to start practicing getting out of your comfort zone.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to do it.
Do something that’s uncomfortable on a regular basis.
A while back, I sat down and made a list of all the things that make me uncomfortable. Eating new foods was near the top of the list, so I made it a priority to try a new food on a weekly basis.
Nine times out of ten, I don’t like the new thing I’ve tried. But that one time out of ten has been amazing (asparagus and spinach have been big winners for me lately). You can do something similar, but it doesn’t have to be with food. Maybe it’s just taking a different route to the office or trying a new morning routine — anything that will get you comfortable with newness and discomfort.
Start really small.
And don’t think that when I talk about trying new things, I mean making huge, sweeping changes. It’s better to start really, really small.
I’m afraid of spiders. I suck at public speaking. I’m terrified of heights. But I’m not going to overcome these fears by going all Fear Factor in a room full of spiders or thousands of people waiting to hear me speak.
Instead, to get rid of my fear of heights, I might go on a mountain hike. Or fly somewhere on a plane. Maybe I can go to the Grand Canyon and gaze down its steep cliffs for 30 seconds. True, I might not get over the fear itself. But my ability to handle that fear — and any other fear of the unknown, in general — will grow.
Put yourself into different roles.
This quarter, I’m serving in the role of customer success representative (CSR) for my software company, Mailshake. I’m talking to customers, I’m answering emails and doing webinars. I’m not an expert in any of these things, so I’m out of my comfort zone. I do a lot of these things in different capacities — just not in this state, which makes me uncomfortable.
At some point, we’ll hire a customer success person, but going through the process myself helps me understand what it is I’m trying to solve with this role. Without this discomfort-inducing exercise, I wouldn’t really understand what the role is, what the metrics are and what it’ll take for someone to be successful. But if I do the work — even for a few hours a week or a few hours a day — I’ll know more about it.
Now, when I’m ready to hire a CSR, even though I haven’t hired one before, I’ll be one step closer to being comfortable with the process.
Push yourself, with exercise.
I lost my fear of pretty much everything a few years ago, when the engine on my skydiving plane blew at 3,000 feet and we all had to jump unexpectedly. I figured, if I can survive that, there’s not much else I need to be scared of.
You don’t have to be into high-adrenaline sports to get this benefit. Any big exercise, or activity-related, goal will work. Back in 2013, I’d never run a mile before. But I set a goal for myself to run a six-minute mile. I got a couple of apps on my phone, and in eight months, I was able to run that mile in under six minutes.
The process was painful as hell, and the actual experience definitely uncomfortable. But when I got through it, I couldn’t help but think, “If I can do that, why am I so afraid of business decisions?” By pushing myself physically and testing my limits, I was able to apply the same thinking that made what I learned running a sub-six-minute mile applicable to all aspects of my business.
Remember the things that make you comfortable.
I’ve been married since I was 23. I’m lucky enough to have a beautiful house to go home to. That’s my norm. So, even when I’m uncomfortable during the day, I know that, at night, I’m going to go home and be in comfort.
You don’t have to have a fancy house or a loving family to be successful as an entrepreneur. But you should find what’s true for you. Find the things in your life that bring you comfort, and make it a point to remember them. Knowing you have something comfortable to go back to makes discomfort in business much easier to bear.
Originally posted on Entrepreneur by Sujan Patel