How To Form Partnerships With Larger Companies When You Run A Startup

Increasing visibility for your startup requires growth tactics and typically, a significant amount of time. While new companies are always looking for ways to grow quickly, in reality, it can take a significant amount of time before you see the fruits of your labor. But a quick way to grow your customer base is to tap into the reach that larger companies already have.

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25 Lessons Business School Won’t Ever Teach You

25 Lessons Business School Won't Ever Teach You

Image credit: 10’000 Hours | Getty Images

There are a lot of great lessons you can learn in business school. It emphasizes planning and strategic decision-making. Ideally, it shows you how to take academic theories and apply them to real-world problems. But no matter how brilliant the professors or how well designed the curriculum, no school can teach you everything you need to know.

There’s a lot you’re going to have to figure out on your own, through trial and error. Some of the most important lessons you’ll ever learn about how to be successful in business (and in life, for that matter) comes from getting out there and doing it.

So, if you’re hoping that MBA will be your golden ticket to kickstarting a successful career in business, consider these all-important 25 lessons that you’ll have to learn outside the classroom.

1. How to be a better leader.

Leaders who have MBAs are no more effective and perform no better than those who don’t. According to a Harvard Business Review study of the 100 best-performing CEOs in the world, only 24 percent had MBAs.

Successful leaders must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They have to convey positivity and motivate those around them. These aren’t things you can discover in a classroom setting.

2. There is no single path to success.

There’s no single formula you can follow to be successful. You have to follow your own path to achieve your dreams. No one — not a teacher, a mentor or even a billionaire business leader — can tell you how to create your best future. You have to figure that out for yourself. One person’s vision can’t be duplicated and remade by someone else.

3. How to build relationships that help move you forward.

The saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is very true in business. Every successful business is built on good relationships. If you want to be successful you’ll need to master so-called soft skills like how to network and form bonds with people. That’s how you get invited to the right places and meet the right people.

4. How to be an effective communicator.

How effective you are at getting your point across can make the difference between sealing a deal and missing out on a potential opportunity. Communication fosters good working relationships and is important to a team’s morale and efficiency. Some people are just gifted communicators, while others need to work to improve their communication skills. However, this is a topic rarely covered in business school.

5. Every interaction is a negotiation.

You may learn negotiation strategies in business school, but the act of doing it in real time, in real life, is entirely different. Whenever you interact with someone in business, you’re either formally or informally negotiating something. When negotiation is done well, both parties leave satisfied and ready to do business with each other again.

6. How to establish a new business.

Business school will teach you the steps you should follow when forming a business: how to do research, come up with a plan, make a budget, choose a business structure and so on. But there’s so much else that goes into a new business that classes can’t cover. How to find capital, get people to invest in your ideas and make that all-important first sale — all of that is up to you.

7. The importance of courtesy and manners.

Most of us learned good manners from our parents as children, but how often do professors emphasize the importance of using common courtesies and etiquette when dealing with customers? Simple things like using customers’ names, being on time, delivering on promises and saying thank you will make a huge difference to your business’s success.

8. How to hire the best people.

Every entrepreneur struggles with recruiting and hiring an excellent team of people. Human resource managers have worked to refine the process, but deciding who is really going to be a good fit comes down to nuances that can’t be put into a formula.

9. How to learn from your mistakes.

One of the hardest lessons to learn in entrepreneurship is that failure is inevitable. Sometimes deals fall through. Things change, the market fluctuates, or perhaps your idea simply didn’t pan out. You still have to find a way to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. Entrepreneurs must learn to frame their failures, learn from their mistakes and improve for next time.

10. Marketing in a high-tech world.

In our highly connected digital world, technology is changing at breakneck speed, impacting the way businesses market themselves. This ever-changing scene makes it practically impossible for business schools to keep up with digital marketing trends. Entrepreneurs need to work at finding ways to stay in the loop.

11. How to relate to your customers.

Your sales approach matters just as much as what you’re selling. Academics often miss the all-important step of relating to customers. That personal connection comes from really listening to your customers.

12. Emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ.

Emotional intelligence (also known as “emotional quotient,” or EQ) was ranked sixth in the World Economic Forum’s list of the top 10 skills that employees need to thrive in the workplace. EQ refers to someone’s ability to perceive, understand and manage their own feelings and emotions. In the business world, this is often more valuable than book smarts.

13. How to be humble.

Humility keeps you grounded, even as you reach for higher and higher goals. Being humble doesn’t mean you think less of yourself; it means you’re more focused on others. This helps you become aware of your flaws. When you’re humble, you stay focused on the needs of customers and really listen to feedback and criticism.

14. You’ll have to figure some things out on the fly.

There’s no doubt that business models are important. But sometimes you just have to wing it. There will be times when you come up against an unexpected issue or problem, or a one-off opportunity. You’re going to have to figure out some things as you go. This is why the ability to think on one’s feet will always be essential to entrepreneurs.

15. How to be creative.

Coming up with original ideas and finding ways to innovate will give you a big competitive advantage. But creativity is often a process of self-discovery. It takes practice and persistence to generate creative ideas and make something great out of them. Entrepreneurs must make a continuous and conscious effort to look at the world with a curious and open mind.

16. The importance of risk taking.

An MBA can’t teach you to feel more comfortable with taking risks. Weighing opportunity versus potential failure is often personal — you must take into account so many factors beyond the business formulas you learn in school. And an MBA certainly can’t teach you what to do when you take a risk and it flops.

17. You can’t avoid office politics.

No matter how much you may hate office politics, you must pay attention to the internal workings of your business. Office politics will always be a part of business. Knowing how to deal with people effectively is a must. How we handle each other, and how we communicate with and treat one another, can either make work fun and interesting or create a never-ending cycle of problems and challenges.

18. How to outmaneuver larger competitors.

You don’t have to be a giant to win. Being a small and nimble business has its advantages. But it’s up to each entrepreneur to see the strengths and specific advantages their business can utilize to outmaneuver larger competitors. Look for ways you can offer something the bigger guys can’t without going to a head-to-head competition.

19. How to resolve conflicts.

In business, as in life, conflicts are inevitable. You’re going to have to embrace that fact and learn to deal with it. No lesson plan will cover how to forgive others, smooth over hurt feelings and find resolution you can all live with, but being able to do so is crucial to navigating the business world.

20. When to trust your instincts.

Mega-successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates would often prioritize their own intuition over the advice of others, or even customer feedback. Intuition is the result of your body processing the data around you. You may not be able to explain why you know something; you just sense it. That’s not to say you should always ignore what other people have to say, but sometimes you need to turn inward and trust your gut.

21. How to set goals.

So often in business, we know what we want to do but have no idea how get there. We have a business model and a mission statement, but don’t really understand what our specific goals are. Goal setting is crucial to holding yourself accountable and making sure everyone on your team is aligned and on the same page.

22. Generating ideas that will disrupt.

All entrepreneurs dream of disrupting their industry, but few ever do because it’s rare to come up with ideas that will cause sweeping change. Business school may teach you that disruption begins with defining a solution to a problem and then finding a way to add value to customers’ experience. Sounds simple, but finding a way to break with the status quo never is.

23. You’re going to need to delegate.

You can’t possibly handle every single detail of your business. In order to be successful over the long haul, you’re going to need help. You’re going to need to delegate, outsource or subcontract work when necessary. You’re going to need to learn when to seek help.

24. How to set realistic expectations.

If you promise the world to customers or clients, and then can’t fulfill those obligations, you’re going to end up with some frustrated people on your hands. To be successful, you’ll need to establish parameters, realistic timelines and deliverables. Your roadmap to success begins by creating clear, achievable expectations and then following through.

25. Real-life experience.

You can study all you want, and you can hang multiple degrees on your wall, but nothing will ever take the place of real-life experience. The only way to acquire that is by getting out there and actually doing it. Real life is full of wins and losses, failures and successes. Learning to navigate the harsh business world will teach you more than you can ever learn in a classroom.



Five Reasons The Boutique Model Is Revolutionizing The Future Of Retail

“The success of Amazon, the death of retail.” The media continually repeats this narrative. But they’re wrong.

Independent retailers are on the rise. Independent fashion boutiques are building multimillion-dollar companies and doing it with e-commerce and fewer than three physical locations across the country. I’ve seen this up close since founding The Boutique Hub five years ago. Our digital media community for the boutique movement has more than doubled in the past year alone. Small is the new “big box,” and boutiques are cashing in on the market.

Small Business Saturday is a grassroots campaign to promote small businesses. It’s coming up this weekend, but consumer excitement for small retailers is not confined to one day of the year. The “Shop Small” movement is shaping the future of retail and not just because millennials want to do business with local, socially impactful companies. Here are the lessons that businesses of all industries and sizes can take away.

1. It’s all about the experience.

Boutiques fill a need Amazon doesn’t. Amazon is functional and useful when we know what we want. But there’s a difference between buying and shopping, and Amazon does not address the shopping experience.

Consumers care about the experience, online and off. That’s why online brands like Warby Parker are expanding to physical stores. How a product is delivered — how it makes you feel — can be more important than the product itself.

Boutiques are successful because they’re more than just stores: They’re style educators. Many consumers don’t have the time or know-how to style themselves. Fashion is fickle, and they’re scared to try a new trend — until boutiques show them how. They walk in the store to be inspired, to shop with friends, and to feel good about themselves in their clothes. Or they tune in to a live video for style tips from the comfort of their couch.

When you inspire customers, they don’t just buy your product or service — they buy the experience. They buy memories. What is the equivalent for your business? Do you sell landscaping services or a beautiful new yard? Retirement plans or financial freedom? Your online and offline experience should communicate that cohesively.

2. Social media creates community.

Social media is integral to the customer experience. Don’t build sales channels; build an online community.

Boutiques connect like-minded customers over a mutual interest in fashion using live video and Facebook groups. They incentivize customers to share their selfies with contests or discounts. Referral codes are powerful ways to encourage friend recommendations, which 92% percent of consumers believe over all forms of advertising. All of this builds community.

You don’t have to do it all — do what makes sense for your audience. If you aren’t sure what that is, ask them. Some boutiques have success with Facebook notifications or Instagram updates, while others know their customers prefer texts. Put yourself in their shoes. Amanda Halpin-Kruse is the founder of Discount Divas, a multimillion-dollar boutique with nearly 170,000 members in their Facebook group. Each day, she asks her team, “Would you be annoyed getting these notifications?” If the answer is yes, they adjust.

3. We do business with people.

Today’s customers don’t want to do business with large corporations or small businesses. They want to do business with people. They care about relational transactions and customer service, whether they’re buying food or furniture.

Many boutique owners build influence and trust through their personal brand, not just in the store. They show their real, authentic selves — not just the highlight reel — on social media. That’s what sets them apart. Their customers have a personal connection and want to buy from them.

Even large companies can mimic this approach. Whether you’re in retail or financial services, your employees are the face of your brand. Give them permission to be your ambassadors. Train them how and appreciate them — because they have the power to make or break your brand.

4. No one knows your business like you.

Great boutiques don’t just stock the bestselling clothes, they try unique brands their customers might like to discover. Don’t be afraid to take risks, try cutting-edge trends, and fail. Many boutiques even bring back “failures” when their customers are ready for the trend. When a celebrity sports a wide-brimmed hat, they may become popular in Los Angeles right away but take a year to reach the Midwest. Bottom line: Learn what your customers want and you can’t go wrong.

Laura Benson is the owner of Filly Flair Boutique, a multimillion-dollar business. Once she hit a certain point in her business, others told her that she needed a more detailed handbook and stricter boundaries. That removed the personal connection with employees, which took years to recover. “I realized I don’t want to run a business like that — no matter how big we get,” says Laura. “If something is working, don’t change it. No one knows your business like you. That doesn’t mean you don’t need mentors, but you don’t have to do things a certain way because you hit a certain size or revenue.”

It comes down to remembering your “why.” For Laura, her dream was not to send her kids to daycare daily — so she brings them to meetings. Vendors often comment on how much work that is, but she doesn’t see it that way. “That’s my life,” she says. “I don’t have to leave them with a nanny — that’s what’s important to me.”

Laura makes another important point about the relationship between personal and business life. “I’m never going to be a normal mom, and that’s OK. Be OK with where you are. Be present, whatever you’re doing. Show your kids it’s okay to work. Teaching them about your business will give them such an advantage when they grow up.”

5. When you find your tribe, don’t compete with them.

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. You need support from others who understand you — not just your business. They might be an employee or business partner, but they might not. For Laura, it’s her three best friends. They don’t own businesses but they talk every day.

You also need those who are in the same boat, who get it. “Accountability buddies” determine your success or failure. At The Boutique Hub, we bring together business owners to share wins and strategies, seek advice and build friendships. Whether it’s through a similar group, industry organization, or Facebook community, find your tribe.

What’s really amazing about the boutique world is that it’s built on the philosophy of community over competition. There’s a real collaboration among the business owners. Many sell the same brands, but they all bring their unique personality and style to their unique customers. Their industry is growing because they’re growing together.

I also believe many of them are successful because they build their business with heart; the goal isn’t selling the business. They know their “why,” and it usually isn’t to sell the company. Whether it’s a love of fashion, teaching their kids to run a business or creating a balanced lifestyle, they do it for more than money — and that’s why they’ll continue to succeed.


How The Digital Experience Is Evolving Black Friday

Black Friday, a term that’s synonymous with the first shopping day after Thanksgiving has become nothing short of an institution. And Black Friday continues to be an important sales driver for retailers. This year retailers began “leaking” digital ads for Black Friday specials as early as November 1st to get consumers excited, and they are doing so for a good reason. According to a recent USA Today article, most sales still happen in actual stores, but online sales are quickly surpassing in-store sales with more than $1 out of every $6 spent online this holiday season, amounting to $124.1 billion.[1]

So it’s interesting to see how Black Friday continues to evolve and embrace the digital experience – especially in the context of rapidly advancing technology that is revolutionizing the sector as a whole. After all, it is technology that has given rise to Black Friday’s online equivalent, Cyber Monday. But if we look to the future, the line between the two events will continue to blur, and the retail experience is likely to change beyond recognition for customer and retailers alike. Below are some examples of the ways this could unfold: 

Stress-free stores

There will always be physical stores on our streets for those willing to brave Black Friday in search of a bargain. But with the advent of smart cities and the rise of autonomous vehicles on the horizon, traffic jams and hunting for parking spaces could soon be a thing of the past. Yet the physical presence of stores and their Black Friday deals may make it difficult for shoppers to completely transition to online shopping, resulting in a compromise— skipping the hectic parking lot madness and traffic by taking an uber to malls and stores, to lessen the craze that Black Friday brings, while still getting the in-store deals. Most likely, the future Black Friday shopper is likely to leave their car, enter the retail fray, and as they are walking past a retail store, be ‘buzzed’ by their smartphone or wearable device with a notification of an enticing sales offer, luring them to enter.

Once inside the store, our future Black Friday shopper will be identified by the in-store Wi-Fi, which also receives their buying habits, courtesy of big data. Like a digital personal shopper, the store’s app can guide customers effortlessly to their items of choice and preference. Even the stress associated with paying is removed, as ‘on-the-go’ methods and digital currencies eliminate long lines and checkouts from the process. In fact, we are already seeing the elimation of lines and checkouts with Amazon’s recent introduction of Amazon Go stores in Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle that use a mobile app to check in shoppers as their purchases are automatically charged as they leave the store.

Virtually painless purchases

For the time-poor who nonetheless enjoy the thrill of strolling the aisles, future Black Friday will pose an alternative option. Customers will be able to wear a VR headset and be transported to a virtual retail emporium. From the comfort of their own home, they will then be able to examine goods, check reviews, ask questions of the staff and chat to fellow VR shoppers. Paradise, surely? Well – maybe not for all.

The new wave of retail events

Some say that predictions of the future can be frightening, exciting, or considered pure fantasy. But the same cannot be said for digital transformation as it’s happening now. Retail stores already have it in their power to draw customers in and keep them there for longer than originally intended. And successful retail businesses have learned how the latest Wi-Fi access points and software defined networking such as SD-WAN can provide easy access to online services, without jeopardizing their own PoS and back office systems.  Riverbed is also seeing many of our retail customers using SD-WAN to open up pop-up stores during the holiday season, or using end-user experience monitoring to ensure POS apps and digital services used by sales assistants or customers are working optimally.

It may be fair to say that autonomous vehicles have yet to become a common sight on our roads, but the number of smart cities grows by the day. For all the right reasons, the Internet of Things is spreading like wildfire across our world, reaching our homes, the places we travel to, as well as the people and systems we interact with. Physical or online retailers that ride the wave of agile, software-defined IT, combined with the visibility and control that comes with big data analysis and machine learning, are already leaving competitors wallowing in their wake as the digital experience continues to shape the future of Black Friday.



5 Techniques to Future-Proof Your Marketing Career

5 Techniques to Future-Proof Your Marketing Career

In the last few years alone, technology has transformed the world of marketing. The advent of AI, for instance, has dramatically impacted the economy, disrupting every industry’s function. In fact, half the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared from the list in the past15 years because they’re unable to keep up with changing technologies (Innosight Report 2016)!

Clearly, the digital world is evolving rapidly, and marketers have to be more proactive than ever to remain relevant. In this rapidly changing landscape, here are 5 skills marketers need to learn to future-proof their careers:

Get comfortable with data-analytics

The marketing industry is no longer guided by intuition. Data analytics has taken the guesswork out of the game, allowing brands to deliver more targeted messaging and measure their returns on investment (ROI). According to the 2016 study by Gartner, 69% of marketing leaders expected the majority of their decisions to be data-driven by 2018. With marketing analytics accounting for 9.2% of the marketing budget in 2017-18 (largest share for any category); it is clear that data analytics is driving the marketing industry, becoming a priority skill for marketers to acquire!

Bring storytelling into brand building

Building brand visibility through storytelling is what every marketer needs to focus on. As the consumer grows more intelligent, smart and effective stories are what will sell the most -catering to different audiences, mindsets and emotions. A key example of effective storytelling is Google Search!

Connect with audiences organically

The adoption of interactive technologies and ever-changing media consumption habits have significantly altered how consumers perceive branded communication messages. Effective content marketing can not only help brands in building trust, generating leads, and cultivating customer loyalty, but it also meets customer where required, organically. Because of its potential to effectively meet the customer’s need for information, content rests at the heart of successful digital marketing campaigns.

AR/VR/AI- immersive experiences are the way to go!

Consumers on digital are highly prone to blocking branded digital content, giving rise to new and engaging forms of content marketing, such as Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR). Such formats are quick, interactive and impressionable, and are ushering in a new era for consumer experiences. Combined with a comprehensive marketing strategy, they can reshape the future of a brand across platforms and devices.

Focus on turning your customers into your brand ambassadors

Engaged with correctly, consumers can become effective mouthpieces for a brand’s messaging. To be able to leverage their potential, marketers need to understand their needs, wants and desires thoroughly, and create unique experiences that cater to these motivations. Such meaningful experiences build loyalty among consumers for the brand, potentially turning them into advocates for the brand’s message – an immense opportunity!

Channel Your Creativity


Retail Role Reversal: Grown-Up Retailers Act Like Start-Ups, And Vice Versa

“We’re moving fast, we’re innovating, we’re having fun.” The words of a start-up retail entrepreneur, right? Well, no, it’s actually an exec from Walmart – Marc Lore (President and CEO of Walmart eCommerce, U.S.).

“All (our stores) are doing way beyond expectations…we can have a really large brick-and-mortar experience.” That’s got to be a legacy retailer, correct? Wrong again. It’s Philip Krim, co-founder and CEO of online mattress retailer, Casper.

Casper store, SoHo, NYCJON BIRD

We’re experiencing a “Freaky Friday” moment in retail – where grown-up retailers are behaving like start-ups, and start-ups are acting more like grown-ups. Perhaps it’s a sign that we are reaching a new level of market maturity after a disruptive couple of decades, post that first fateful headline in the New York Times in 1994 – “Attention Shoppers: Internet Is Open.”

Legacy retailers such as Walmart and Target are swapping big box thinking for a start-up-in-a-garage mindset, with striking results.

Walmart’s latest earning release saw comps up 4.5%, and online sales increase 40%, on the back of a buoyant economy, and innovations like grocery pick-up expansion(now 1,800 stores), new “Pickup Towers” (700 by end 2018), new website, new interactive digital installations in store and new brand acquisitions. As CEO Doug McMillon said: “We are pleased with how customers are responding to the way we’re leveraging stores and e-commerce to make shopping faster and more convenient.”

Target SoHo, New York CityJON BIRD

Competitor Target is also investing heavily in its future, with hundreds of “reimagined” stores, new small-formats, a new drive-through service, the acquisition of grocery-delivery start-up Shipt to facilitate same-day delivery, and the launch of a dozen or more new private label brands in the past year. All that has contributed to good momentum in the second quarter, with “unprecedented” traffic growth of 6.4%, comp sales growth of 6.5% and digital sales surging 41%. According to CEO Brian Cornell, “(we are) putting digital first and evolving our stores, digital channels and supply chain to work together as a smart network to deliver on everything guests love about Target”.

Meanwhile, the start-ups are going old-school as their brands develop and business models mature. JLL Retail Research released a point-of-view last week observing that “E-commerce Retailers Plan 850 Physical Stores in the Next 5 Years.” Among them, Casper is set to open 200 stores in the next three years, lingerie retailer AdoreMe will launch up to 300, and cult sneaker brand Allbirds will continue its physical expansion beyond its recently opened 4,800 sq. foot SoHo flagship*.

Allbirds flagship store, SoHo, NYCJON BIRD

Online pioneer Warby Parker now does more than half its sales in physical stores. And as noted in Retail Dive, most of these new stores are not showrooms – the vast majority are highly productive spaces.

We’re even seeing hybrids of old and new. Both Macy’s and Lowe’s are incorporating b8ta tech discovery centers in store. Macy’s invested in the start-up, as they did in concept store “Story”.

So, on the one hand we have Walmart’s Marc Lore saying that “established companies need to act more like startups”. And on the other hand, The Atlantic reports on the “throwback revolution” of start-ups recognizing the “value of storefronts”. Ultimately this will play out to a new retail reality where there is a singular kind of retailer – one with an “obsessive compulsive focus on the customer” (thanks Jeff Bezos), and one that grants access to its products and services wherever, whenever and however the shopper wants them.

*We need to put the store openings in context, however. According to Coresight Research, there have been 4,799 stores closing in the U.S. year-to-date, and 2,644 openings. So even with e-commerce retailers opening new physical locations, retail real estate is shrinking overall. 

Jon Bird is Executive Director, Global Retail & Shopper Marketing at VMLY&R, an award-winning worldwide marketing communications company.



Spanx Founder Sara Blakely Just Identified the No. 1 Reason Why People Don’t Succeed (and It’s Quite Brilliant)

Last week, Inc. colleague Gene Hammett, a speaker, author, and the host of the phenomenal Leaders in the Trenches podcast, met the self-made billionaire founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, at the Spanx headquarters in Atlanta. More on that in a minute.

If you’re not familiar with Blakely, she is known for her revolutionary shapewear product released in 1998. Since then, Spanx has solved the wardrobe woes of women around the world by designing bras, underwear, leggings, and other intimate apparel in a way that has changed the way women feel about their bodies.

When Oprah Winfrey named Spanx a “Favorite Thing” back in 2000, it resulted in a significant rise in popularity and sales. Since then, Blakely herself has significantly risen in popularity and wealth, with a net worth of $1.1 billion, according to Forbes.

Sara Blakely’s unique lesson on success.

In Hammett’s conversation with Blakely, shared in an email to his readers, he asked her about her current challenges running her apparel empire. Blakely’s answer left Hammett floored and confused. But as he thought further, what she told him also made him a bigger fan of Blakely than ever before.

The wildly-successful Blakely admitted that she still struggles with doubt and fear. She then told Hammett something that may be holding back thousands of people from fully realizing their potential:

Your negative self-talk is the No.1 barrier to success.

Who can’t relate to that? We all have, at one time or another, been held back by the lies we allow to infiltrate our own heads: you’re not good enough, rich enough, talented enough, pretty enough, so on and so forth.

I admire Blakely for her authenticity and the wisdom she imparted. She has been able to manage her negative self-talk over the years by continuing to do the emotional work most people neglect to overcome their own doubts and fears.

Negative self-talk is a very real thing–and a very self-limiting thing holding people back. How bad is it, exactly? In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article about research that found that the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. The alarming part? Eighty percent of those thoughts are negative and fear-based.

If you’re struggling with your own demoralizing inner critic, here are three crucial things to help you manage the negative self-talk and overcome your fears.

1. Gain perspective into your situation.

Often, due to failure and rejection, people develop a warped sense of reality where they can’t separate fact from fantasy. When making the entrepreneurial journey or climbing the corporate ladder, failure is a sure thing–you can bank on it.

But when you step back and gain perspective into your situation, you can realize that life will go on and you’re not going to die a horrible death if you get rejected or miss out on an opportunity.

The worst-case-scenario that feeds into your fear or the negative drama you play out in your head is merely that–drama. Lose the script, put the past in the past, and detach any previous negative outcome from your current reality. Once you start with a clean slate and see possibilities again with renewed insight, you’ll realize that your negative self-talk no longer has any power over you.

2. Hack your brain to overcome fear.

Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success magazine and New York Times best-selling author of The Compound Effect and The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, says that no matter how much you’re warned and how skilled you are, fear is the ONE thing that can crush you and stop you from realizing your dreams. He suggests three ways to train your brain to overcome your fear:

  • Accept that fear is not a threat: President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously quipped, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” After you pull off an impossible feat that had you paralyzed with fear for days, training your brain to accept that there’s no threat involved will help you to switch off the fear response when the next important event happens.
  • Force 20 seconds of courage on yourself: Hardy says, “Think of everything you could accomplish if you forced 20 seconds of bravery on your primitive mind just three times a day. Imagine how doing so would multiply your success, lifestyle, and prominence in the marketplace. Think of the breakthroughs you could create.”
  • Habituate yourself to fear: When you figure out the thing that you fear, it’s usually the most important thing that you need to make your business successful. By exposing yourself to whatever you fear, it loses its power and control over you. Hardy recommends submerging yourself in your fear for 90 days. In other words, have relentless contact with the activity or activities that you fear, and by the end of 90 days, says Hardy, you’ll no longer fear it. That weakness now becomes a great strength.

3. Kill the negative self-talk by reframing.

I’m sure Sara Blakely would relate to this. Do you ever hear that voice inside your head tell you things like: “I can’t do this” or “This is never going to work”? How about, “I am nothing compared to ‘those’ people”?

While self-talk is normal, when it’s used to reinforce a false belief or irrational thought or idea, that’s when we get into trouble. So what’s the solution? A useful little mental hack called “reframing.”

You begin by consciously identifying the type of inner dialogue you use daily. Next, take a mental note of the nasty little negative words or phrases you use often. Things like, I can’t, I don’t know how, this is impossible, I always get this wrong, etc.

Now, really pay attention to the times when you use them again. What are the triggers? Did you not get that expected job, salary raise, or promotion?

As you notice yourself saying something negative and totally untrue in your mind, you can stop your thought midstream by saying out loud to yourself, “Stop!” This technique helps you become more aware of when and how many times you are curbing negative thoughts.

Finally, dig deep down inside yourself and rethink your assumptions. Perhaps an event you perceive as negative isn’t all that bad. So stop, rethink, and see if you can come up with a neutral or positive replacement.

The beauty of reframing means you’re challenging those negative thoughts and generalizations–the voices in your head that try to derail you from the path that will lead you to your eventual success.



10 Ways To Accomplish Great Things At Your Next Company Meeting

Image result for meeting

Do you know the distinct purpose of every meeting you hold? The meeting purpose informs employee engagement and productivity. When a meeting goes too long or meanders, you lose your employees along the way.

Company meetings may celebrate, decide, educate, network, produce or promote. The most successful meetings keep their formula and selected purposes simple. Whether celebrating a milestone or brainstorming a new strategy, here are 10 ways to accomplish great things at your next meeting.

1. PowerPoint doesn’t give the speech

PowerPoint-heavy meetings, where the speaker drones on like Charlie Brown’s teacher, help no one retain information or excitement. Slides and spoken word choices shouldn’t match word for word. The best slides use succinct, to-the-point words with visuals to engage the senses and drive the message home. Illustrations, graphs and photos provide essential points.

Make the font and images legible, not fussy. Fewer slides can inform more effectively than 20 slides. Keep the show short, and let the Q&A open up more possibilities for relevant elaboration.

2. Add an interpersonal element

Recall that meetings also serve the purpose of networking, which allows co-workers to connect, share ideas and information, and build relationships. People don’t want to come to work to clock in and out, and 72 percent feel lonely. Work encompasses a great deal of most people’s lives, so they should take a moment to enjoy a coffee, share a meal or laugh over awkward ping pong moves.

Adding interpersonal elements to the day and meetings deepens trust among teams and senior staff and increases employee engagement and well-being. Trust between senior management and employees significantly contributes to job satisfaction overall.

3. Involve the team

Employees need to feel confident in their contributions to the company and like they can move up in the ranks. Give team members a platform, depending on the meeting purpose.

4. Keep meetings short

Start the meeting within a reasonable time frame and end early to keep employees energized. Try to keep general meetings 30 minutes long, and question why you need an hours-long annual meeting. People come to 30-minute meetings more prepared, engaged and open to learning. Conversations don’t meander and speakers get their points across more efficiently.

5. Acknowledge errors

Don’t bury bad news. Employees value transparency, and when companies take ownership of errors as a whole, they pave the way for progress and innovation. Talk about what went wrong objectively, and find value in learning from mistakes. Never point fingers.

6. What’s the takeaway? 

End with a solid gem for participants to take away for each section of the presentation, but especially at the conclusion of the meeting. It doesn’t have to be a call to action, but should leave employees feeling inspired and connected to the message. Like the meeting, keep the takeaway brief and make sure it’s addressed in the beginning, middle and end without sounding like a broken record.

7. Know guest speaker presentations in and out 

Guest speakers run either hot or cold depending on the content and the audience. Know in advance what the speaker will say, including the message and slides. Good presenters like to know more about their audience, host rules and technological capabilities of the meeting room. You also know what resources to offer and how to help the speaker keep the presentation flowing.

8. Switch the scene 

Tired of meeting in the same four walls? Your team feels the same.

Shake up the meeting by changing the environment, which can impact the power of the message. Meet in a historic home in town when talking about the history of your company and how that applies to the future. Conduct walking meetings on a green-way, as exposure to natural sensory experiences increases productivity and reduces stress levels. Use nature to improve the room itself by bringing in live plants, but make sure you water them.

9. The five-word challenge

Prevent meandering Q&As or overshares with the five-word challenge. When you direct a question to your audience, ask them to articulate their answers in five words or less. You will engage with each team member, save time and gain valuable information.

10. Make them laugh

If you can’t make them laugh once, you’ve done your job. Humor helps lighten the mood and engage your audience, who will see you as a more accessible leader. You gain their attention, engagement and respect.

Give yourself time to calm your nerves and present a warm smile. Experienced leaders still get a little nervous from time to time.

Meetings usually have more than one purpose, but that doesn’t mean they need to last for two hours. Bring more to the table in a shorter time to accomplish great things and allow employees to leave feeling motivated and more connected to each other and the company mission.



10 lessons that took an entrepreneur from a trailer park to multimillionaire status before 30

Jeremy Adams, co-founder of Unicorn Innovations

Jeremy Adams, co-founder of Unicorn Innovations

On the road to success, there are sadly few shortcuts. But there are several detours you can avoid by following those who’ve completed the course.

Jeremy Adams is one such guy. His desire to leave behind his trailer park upbringing saw him set out on his entrepreneurship journey as a teen, burning CDs, doing neighbors’ yard work and waiting tables before launching his first start-up, a food truck company, at the age of 22.

A few months later, the young Floridian’s business was picked up by former “Shark Tank” judge Kevin Harrington at a local competition, kicking his journey into the next gear and spurring the pair to co-launch a marketing start-up.

Less than a decade on, the 30-year-old now runs a multimillion-dollar portfolio of businesses, including his latest venture, Unicorn Innovations, which helps entrepreneurs build their businesses. He himself is a multimillionaire, according to a representative.

Speaking to CNBC Make It, Adams described the 10 lessons that helped him along the way.

1. Learn to embrace loneliness

Long hours, regular knock backs and often isolated working can make the journey of an entrepreneur a lonely one. But while it’s important to take time out to socialize and look beyond your business, it’s also critical to embrace loneliness in the short term for results in the long term.

“Turning down plans, staying in on the weekends, etc. are often essential in reaching your goals as an entrepreneur, and those sacrifices may lead to extremely isolated periods of time, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he noted. “The low points always lead to higher ones.”

2. Friends and family are sometimes a great ally, but often your worst enemy

Though they typically want the best for you, advice from friends and family can end up limiting you if they don’t share your mindset.

“The reason the one percent is the one percent is because they think and operate differently to the 99 percent,” said Adams. “Take advice and guidance from family and friends with a grain of salt, but always follow your gut, even if it strays off the given path your family has for you — it will pay off in the end.”

3. Everyone is on the same journey

It’s easy to look at those we consider successful and think they have it all figured out. But, in reality, everyone faces similar challenges when it comes to their careers, finances and relationships.

To avoid getting bogged down with the pressure of other people’s achievements, “compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today,” said Adams, quoting one of his favorite books, Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules For Life.”

4. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for guidance, especially when they have particular expertise you lack. That’s especially important for technical matters, like taxes, which can create a huge headache for businesses if handled incorrectly, said Adams.

5. Partner with or hire “A players”

In the early days of a business, it can be tempting to try and keep costs down, including with the staff you hire. But often that ends up being a false economy that can actually hurt your growth. Instead, focus on getting what Adams calls “A players,” who are driven and passionate — even if that means hiring fewer people at a higher rate.

“I realized how much going cheap with people costed me in headache and lost opportunity. Looking back, I would have paid myself $1,000 less each month to get the right person,” he noted.

6. Lose the ego

Passion can blind you, particularly when it comes to running a business. It’s important to remain humble and accept help.

For Adams, that lesson came at a pivotal moment when his food truck business merged with its biggest competitor. Aged 27, he was eager to take the CEO role, but eventually ceded it to his partner, who had prior experience running a 3,000-store business as the CEO of frozen yogurt chain TCBY.

“Let the smarter people do what they do best. I should have been begging the guy to be our CEO, looking back at it,” said Adams.

7. Build a business, not a lifestyle

Too many people these days are focused on building “lifestyle brands” that are reliant on their personal image and social media presence, said Adams. That can make it very difficult to detach yourself and enjoy downtime.

Instead, build a business that can stand independently from you and, as soon as you can afford it, start hiring a team to help so you can focus on managing things at a high level.

8. Stay focused

With so many ideas bubbling away, it can be easy for entrepreneurs to suffer from what Adams calls “shiny object syndrome.” But rather than jumping from one thing to the next, you should stay disciplined, focus on doing one thing brilliantly, and only then move on to the next thing.

9. Work on earning millions, not saving hundreds

Perhaps as a result of his low-income upbringing, which included his family relying on coupons and money saving deals, Adams said focusing on penny pinching gives him anxiety. So, rather than spending time figuring out money hacks, he recommends concentrating that energy on working to increase your overall income.

As a “big fan of investing,” Adams puts a significant portion of his income into stocks and cryptocurrencies each month.

10. Be addicted to growth and development

Finally, become obsessed with self-development. By his own admission, Adams was never a great student at school, simply doing enough to scrape by. But since starting work he has developed a new obsession with learning, consuming over 1,000 books in the past three years and working with numerous mentors.

“It is a big financial and time investment, but easily the best investment I’ve ever made,” said Adams. “And guess what: I am still just 1 percent of the person I believe I can become.”



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