Category Archives: Team

When Get Becomes a 4-Letter Word

By Jonathan Fields

I’ve been asked the question in a wide array of contexts…

How do I get people to buy my stuff?
How do I get people to open my emails?
How do I get people to join my community?
How do I get people to sign up for my list?
How do I get people to promote my stuff?
How do I get people to take this action?
How do I get people to blah blah blah?

Here’s the thing…

You don’t “get” people to do anything!

The use of the word “get,” and the framing of the question signals a deeper psychology that is rooted in a mindset that elevates taking and control over generosity, delight and value.

When you lead with the word get, you always lose.

Even if you seem to “get” what you want in the short term, the motivation and manipulation behind it will circle back to bite you. Immediately following your “get” will be a wave of buyer’s remorse, followed by feelings of anger and betrayal. This is not how you want to build a living. It is not how you want to build a brand or a career. It is not how you want to build a life. Walking around constantly trying to figure out how to “get” people to do things.

A far better, more sustainable, conscious and elevating approach, one that is steeped in longer-term relationships, generosity and value, is about not “getting” people to do something, but rather creating an experience of such generosity, value and delight that they “yearn” to participate in it. To contribute, to connect, to consume, to share, to stand in the story you’re telling and help bring others into it.

Not because you “got” them to do something, but because you created something so appealing they couldn’t not do it.

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So, when you’re writing copy for launches, subject lines for emails, brand stories for products, services and companies and descriptions for offerings…

When you’re crafting positioning, marketing, advertising and sales. When you’re developing values, missions, visions, structures and process…

Take the word “get” off the table and lead, instead, with “give, delight, invite.”

By the way, part of the reason it’s fresh in my mind is because I realized that a small, but alarming bit of “get mentality” had found its way into my own creation and marketing efforts. When you’re creating vast amounts of language, launching new things and making decisions under unforgivable time-constraints, that tends to be when the siren taunt of “get” most easily lures you in.

It’s easier to yield to the pull of smallness when you’re in the distorting heat of the cauldron.

When everything’s on the line.

But, that’s also the moment it’s most critical to hold fast to your values. Because, the pressure of any given situation may not be optional. But, whether it deepens or dissolves your commitment to integrity, that’s where the work lies.

I just keep reminding myself, in business and life, in the way I contribute to the world, I want to live from a place of generosity and grace, not grasping and greed.

That’s my work. Our work. The work.

I hope you’ll join me.

About the Author: Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, A-list blogger and serial wellness-industry entrepreneur. Fields writes about entrepreneurship and creativity at www.JonathanFields.com and interviews emerging world-shakers at www.GoodLifeProject.com. His latest book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance, was named the #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-Read.

Your Day

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

 MARTIAL ARTS TRAINING

Planning Your Day

 Fiercelybeautifulblog.com

By Craig Ballantyne

Let’s face it. As someone who wants extraordinary results in every area of your life, there are always going to be obstacles in your way. Two of the most common are overcoming procrastination and keeping control of your daily schedule.

The good news is that we conquer both with one solution. And that’s simply by planning your day.

So let’s allay your fears and stresses about the seemingly complex task at hand. Planning makes success simple.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t make success easy, but it makes it simple. There is a big difference between the two.

Easy means little effort. And we both know that success takes hard work. Simple means that the path to success has already been tread, and we just need to follow that path. But, of course, there’s a path that has been tread to the top of Mount Everest, too, and we know that isn’t easy.

All paths to success take planning. In our recent discussions about “Operation 2X,” our plan to help you achieve twice the results over the rest of the year, ETR Publisher Matt Smith said, “You cannot have a 2X day when you don’t plan. That includes planning kids/family activities. 2X happens only when you lead. It only happens when you’re proactive and are actually pushing things forward. 2X only happens when there is intention.”

So what does that mean?

You need to:

  •     Plan your day/schedule
  •     Block out your time for specific tasks
  •     Get ONE big thing done first thing in the morning for momentum
  •     Prioritize your to-do list
  •     Make a commitment to contacting the right people
  •     Eliminate unnecessary communication
  •     Avoid getting sucked into emails
  •     Set daily deadlines
  •     Stick to your schedule (this is where things often go wrong)
  •     Set up your environment for maximum productivity.
  •     Institute a strict sleeping schedule
  •     Surround yourself with competent people who can do some work for you.

Or you can say, “Oh, I don’t want to be that rigid. I want a flexible, spontaneous lifestyle.”

And that’s fine, but the fact is you’ll fail at almost everything you want to do in life. PERIOD.

Your choice.

You must have total control over your working conditions and those that can interrupt it. It must be made known that your work time is do-not-disturb time.

This will disappoint others but it will protect your time and is essential to your success. Make this decision. Separate work from play. Commit. Stay focused.

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“It’s not about the hour you wake up, it’s about what you do with the hours that you are up. Whenever you start your day, start it with a powerful morning routine to get your mind right, then focus on your #1 priority for at least 15 minutes and win a victory that the world can’t take away from you no matter how crazy the rest of the day gets. You got this.” -Craig Ballantyne

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Remember… you get freedom from structure.

You don’t get freedom from a 4-hour work week. That’s false freedom, or as your parents described it, “Laziness.”

So listen…

If you’re struggling with your schedule, go back and do a “time journal.” Then ruthlessly plan your work day.

The more work you can get done during work hours, the less time you’ll have to steal from your family, friends, fitness, and fun hobbies by working when it’s not “work time.”

That’s what is meant by getting more freedom from structure.

You can work hard a good many hours and still have a life. Most people don’t have a balance problem, they have a time-wasting problem.

You must find your Magic Time to get more done in less time.

You must also set an end to your day. Do a brain dump and then shut your working mind down. Go spend time with your family. Don’t answer email at all hours of the day. Set limits. Know what you should be doing at all times, and do it.

The more structure you have in your work day, the more you plan, the more you will accomplish — and the closer you will get to achieving a 2X day — and life.

Remember these words of wisdom from Dave Kekich:

“Cherish time, your most valuable resource. You can never make up the time you lose. It’s the most important value for any productive happy individual and is the only limitation to all accomplishment. To waste time is to waste your life. The most important choices you’ll ever make are how you use your time.”

So always be prepared. Plan ahead. If you do, and if you get focused, you can dominate your days and own your life in 2017.

If you need help, I’m your man.

Click here to discover how to work in-person with me on creating your Perfect Days

About the Author: Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes “politically-incorrect” advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig’s secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision. Click here to learn more from Craig so that you can get more done, make more money, and live the life of your dreams.

How to Close a Deal

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WEALTHY

12 Rules for Closing the Deal

By Grant Cardone

Like any sport, there are rules to selling, especially when it comes to closing the sale. Here are a dozen of my best rules for closing the deal.

  1. Stay seated. The saying goes, “Present the product, service or idea on your feet, but always negotiate from your seat.” Even if your prospect stands up, remain seated — going from a seated position to standing up suggests something has changed and allows your prospect the cue to exit and end the negotiations.
  2. Master eye contact. This is a discipline you can only instill through practice, and you can perfect it by recording yourself and reviewing it. If you want to be believed and look confident, it is vital that you make and maintain eye contact with your prospect. It shows you are interested in them, confident in yourself and your product, and what you are proposing.
  3. Communicate clearly. People don’t trust someone who cannot communicate confidently and clearly. I practiced for years using recorders and video and played them back, ensuring my communication was coming across the way I intended.

Click here to read all 12 of Grant Cardone’s rules for closing.

Apps to Help Your Business

5 Ways Mobile Apps Helps You Improve Business Revenue

By Urvish Shangvis

1) Acquire More Customers:

A Mobile App is an effective and efficient medium to connect with customers. Asking desktop users to download a mobile app, helps acquire new customers. Offering a 10-30% discount to new mobile app users on their first order, will make them repeat customers. Research indicates that users prefer mobile apps to a mobile or desktop website, as mobile apps can be accessed offline too. Users spend more time on a mobile app than a mobile or desktop site. Mobile apps can help you gain new customers, by running various offers and discounts.

Read the rest of the ways mobile apps can add value.

Follow This Hair Salon Owner

 


This Hair Salon Owner Knows Something Most Entrepreneurs Have Backwards

By Benjamin P. Hardy @BenjaminPHardy

 

What if you looked at your employees like a Hair Salon owner does? How would you treat your employees differently?

James and Astrid Rawlinson are the owners of Salon 21 in Orem, Utah. Last week, I happened to be in Utah and needed a haircut. I was lucky enough to have James cut my hair.

When I found out he was the owner, I wanted to learn more. He openly shared his business model and philosophy with me. As an organizational psychologist, what James taught me resonated deeply; and I felt it was important for any high level leader or founder to know.

1. Your Clients Are Less Important Than Your Employee

“If an employee at Wal-Mart quits, that probably won’t affect Wal-Mart’s business,”James explained. “However, if one of my employees leaves, there goes a large percentage of my clientele.”

When it comes to having a hair-stylist, many people find one they like and stick to that stylist. As a result, business suffers when someone quits at a hair salon.

This reality has forced James to take a serious look at his company culture. He’s come to grips with the fact that his employees are far more important than his customers. Without his employees, he would have no customers. Furthermore, if his employees aren’t happy, they won’t have recurring customers.

So James and Astrid have worked hard to create a culture where their employees love being there. In an industry where few stylists stick around at one salon for long, at Salon 21, the stylists choose to stay.

James and Astrid have found that being supportive and generous with their employees has directly influenced their success in the market place.

“Although not every industry gets impacted as heavily when an employee leaves as in the hair industry, every leader should recognize the fundamental importance of their employees,” James told me.

Salon 21 is thriving in a saturated market, and is continuing to grow. James believes a primary reason for this success is that his employees are literally his number one priority.

2. Professionalism & Technique

“Just as the yin-yang symbol possesses a kernel of light in the dark, and of dark in the light, creative leaps are grounded in a technical foundation.”–Josh Waitzkin

The hair industry has become like the food industry. The focus is on quantity over quality. As cheap and fast as possible. You can easily find $10, $5, and even $3 haircuts if you look for it.

Hair schools are trying to get as many people in-and-out as fast as they can. The problem is, new graduates end up at jobs without much skill or technique.

James told me he has to extensively train almost every new employee he gets, regardless of how many salons they’ve worked at. Quality matters at Salon 21. They want people’s hair to look amazing when they leave.

I myself was surprised by the care and technique James put into my own hair cut. He did things to my hair I’ve never seen someone do, and when I got home, my wife was stoked.

You can’t deny a good product. As Cal Newport explains in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, when you focus on your craft, the work speaks for itself. The goal should be to produce work that is so good it can’t be ignored. With a focus on quality and craft, Salon 21 continues to succeed while other salons in the area fail.

3. Employee Freedom

Lastly, James explained that many hair salons use fear-tactics to keep their employees. Most salons require their employees to sign “non-compete” agreements.

James and Astrid genuinely want their employees to succeed. If a particular employee would be better-suited somewhere else, they aren’t forced to stay.

At Salon 21, employees feel safe. There is no fear. There’s no compulsion. They can leave whenever they want. At that’s the very reason they choose to stay. They want to be there. They are valued.

“We have complete confidence in our culture and craft here,” James told me. “There’s no need to require non-competes. We know when we hire someone that they will have a unique experience here. They will want to stay. And they will thrive financially here as a result.”

Conclusion

What if you looked at your employees like a Hair Salon owner does?

How would you treat your employees differently?

How would your culture change?

How to Evaluate Your Business

 


Business Assessment

Your business provides you and your employees with the opportunity to leverage your skills and training, serve a desired target market that is in want and need of your product/service and provides opportunity for financial growth.  The health of your business is critical to all those involved.

When was the last time you took your business into the doctor for a business diagnostic checkup?  If the answer is “not recently” or “never”, then your business is overdue.

Javis Brunson Business Consultants assist business owners who strive to build independent, sustainable, profitable, and thriving businesses.  To obtain this level of success in your business, it’s important that you fully understand the health of your business.

If you are ready to grow your business, then let us conduct a business diagnostic assessment for your company today.

Our business assessment and debrief provides insight into eight areas of your business:

  1. Products & Services
  2. Marketing
  3. Sales
  4. Customer Service
  5. Systems & Automation
  6. Business Analytics
  7. Leadership, Policies & Procedures
  8. Organizational Support

The benefit of the assessment debrief is to evaluate your business to determine its health, communicate findings, recommendations and determine the ACTION steps needed to move your business forward.

Following the debrief you can work independently or with a Javis Brunson Consultants advisor.

 

PRICING

Business assessment, 2 hour debrief meeting and a 30 minute follow-up meeting with a Javis Brunson Consultants advisor will cost $825.

Email (jay@javisbrunsonconsultants.com) to schedule a 15-minute introductory phone conversation to discuss how we can help you move your business forward.

How To Move Forward

Take These 7 Steps to Get Unstuck

By Mark Ford

When you agreed to do it, it seemed like a wonderful challenge.

Now, your deadline is fast approaching… and you haven’t even started.

Getting the job done is a priority — yet it somehow doesn’t happen. Instead, it stays there on your daily task list — highlighted for attention but never attended to.

What causes this pernicious process? Why does a great opportunity turn into a very big chore… that turns into an overwhelming enigma… that threatens to turn into the big job you never even started?

There are many causes. But only one solution always works for me.

The solution involves seven steps:

  1. If you’ve been stuck for more than three days, you’re stuck. Admit it. Stand in front of the mirror and repeat: “I shot my mouth off. I’m stuck.” You’ve been waiting for inspiration to save you, but it hasn’t appeared. Stop waiting.
  2. Change the status of the job. It started as one priority among many. Now, make it No. 1 on your daily task list.
  3. Don’t even think of attacking the whole mess at once. Break it up into small pieces. If it’s a 40-page report you have to write, break it up into pages. If it’s a bunch of people you have to talk to, think of each conversation as a separate task.
  4. Working back from your deadline, figure how many discrete units (pages, calls, etc.) you need to do each day. Then figure out how long it will take you to do that many units.
  5. If each unit can be done in less than 15 minutes, you’re in luck. Give yourself the job of doing just one 15-minute task each day. If you’ll have to spend more than 15 minutes a day to finish, then begin — still — with 15 minutes… but increase your daily time commitment as you get rolling.
  6. Start immediately. Complete your first 15 minutes — even if you don’t think you’re doing the task well.
  7. Keep going until you break through the psychological barrier you’ve been up against.

The secret here is to reduce each day’s work to 15 minutes.

It’s such a small amount of time — you won’t have any trouble doing it. This gets the ball rolling… even if it doesn’t seem to be rolling in the right direction.

Sooner or later — and this is guaranteed — you’ll get the inspiration you’d been waiting for while you were stuck.

Then, you’ll find you’ve already done a good deal of the grunt work (thinking, planning, researching, whatever).

This method is particularly useful when you get to the point where you don’t even like a project anymore. Unless you have the discipline to hack away at it every day, you’ll avoid it. And it will never get done.

Some days, you’ll want to work more than 15 minutes. That’s fine.

In fact, that’s the idea. It means your creative mind is starting to kick in.

One day — and this can happen at almost any time — you’ll see the big picture… and you’ll be able to get the whole project done right. You may decide to scrap — or change — some of what you’ve been doing.

But from that point on, you’ll work quickly and easily.

What are you waiting for? Get to it.

Editor’s Note: Mark Ford is hosting an online training event all this week. It culminates with a two-hour webinar event on Thursday. He’ll explain the ideas behind his favorite wealth-building methods and show you how to create a sizable net worth in 7 years or less… without touching stocks, bonds, or options. If you’re ready to increase your cash flow starting tomorrow — and to stop being a slave to a paycheck — go here to sign up for 100% free access.

About the Author: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.

Path To Success

Persistence is a sure path to success with quality activities. Never, ever, ever, give up.” – Kekich Credo #75

The Quickest Way to Success

By Ryan Holiday

On my first day of my first job as a lowly assistant in Hollywood, someone gave me some advice that would shape the course of my entire career. They said: “Just make your boss look good.”

Now in Hollywood, a world of big egos obsessed with getting credit, there is really no other way for someone just starting out to survive. But it turns out that across industries and across history, aspiring young men and women have used this same approach to get ahead.

They realized that the best way to advance their own interests was to do something simple but counterintuitive: provide opportunities for other people. Not only because it makes their boss look good, but because it creates its own opportunities for the pupil to learn and explore.

For instance, many people know that as a young man Benjamin Franklin published numerous letters written under fake names like Silence Dogwood. What they don’t know is that Franklin wrote those letters, sub­mitted them by sliding them under the print­shop door, and received absolutely no credit for them until much later in his life. In fact, it was his brother, the owner, who profited from their immense popularity, regularly running them on the front page of his newspaper. Franklin was playing the long game, though — learning how public opinion worked, generating awareness of what he believed in, crafting his style and tone and wit. It was a strategy he used time and again over his career — once even publishing in his compet­itor’s paper in order to undermine a third competitor — for Franklin saw the constant benefit in making other people look good and letting them take credit for his ideas.

One must master their ego to be able to completely ignore getting credit, getting ahead, even throwing out what your job is supposed to be on paper. It takes a special type of humility to focus your energy on finding, presenting, and facilitating opportunities that help other people succeed.

But this is essential.

Bill Belichick, the now four-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the New England Patriots, made his way up the ranks of the NFL by loving and mastering how to do the one thing that coaches hated at the time: analyzing film.

His first job in professional football for the Baltimore Colts was one he volunteered to take without pay — and his insights, which provided ammunition and critical strategies for the game, were attributed exclusively to the other public-facing coaches.  “He was like a sponge, tak­ing it all in, listening to everything,” one coach said. “You gave him an assignment and he disappeared into a room and you didn’t see him again until it was done, and then he wanted to do more,” said another.

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This gave him two things: first, a role in the organization that allowed him to thrive and carve out space for himself, two, an understanding of the game that today cannot be matched. And today, Beli­chick has no problem getting paid.

A few years ago there was some controversy because Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, was looking for an unpaid intern. How dare she?! bloggers shouted and yelled. She can afford to pay! Of course, she could. But can you afford to pass on that opportunity?

The attitude of the angry, unappreciated genius—that gets us nowhere. Nowhere but living back at home with our parents because “we’re overqualified” for an entry-level position. Nowhere but a reputation for being a person who doesn’t work well with others, who is entitled and obnoxious.

Meanwhile, the apprenticeship model is responsible for some of the greatest art in the history of the world—everyone from Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci to Benjamin Franklin has been forced to navigate such a system. The greatest networkers in the world practice their art by delivering extraordinary amounts of value to everyone they meet.

It’s because they realize what most people’s ego’s prevent them from seeing: that by serving and helping others now, you’re really helping yourself.

I’ve seen this in my own life. For many years, I was a research assistant and apprentice for the author Robert Greene, creator of the 48 Laws of Power. My job was to contribute little bits and pieces to his books that 99% of the public would have no idea I was responsible for. But I loved it. I did it for years.

Working in that system, also taught me the fatal consequences of ego. One slip up, one false belief that you were indispensable to the project, and the door would be shut on you. Important people don’t have time for that. But the quieter and more helpful I could be? The more opportunities I had to contribute. The more I learned. The more trust I was given.

Slowly I developed my own abilities and was able to pursue my own career. I’m writing this article (and now my own books) because of it.

There is an old saying, “Say little, do much.” What we really ought to do is update and apply a version of that to our early approach. Be lesser, do more. Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you. The cumu­lative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.

That’s what this strategy is about — helping yourself by helping others. Making a concerted effort to trade your short­ term gratification for a longer­term payoff. Whereas everyone else wants to get credit and be “respected,” you can forget credit. You can forget it so hard that you’re glad when others get it instead of you — that was your aim, after all. Consider it all an investment.

This approach is here for you at anytime. There is no expiration date on it either. It’s one of the few that age does not limit — on either side, young or old. You can start at any time — before you have a job, before you’re hired and while you’re doing something else, or if you’re starting something new or find yourself inside an organization with­out strong allies or support. You may even find that there’s no reason to ever stop doing it, even once you’ve graduated to heading your own projects. Let it become natural and permanent — always, always find opportunities for other people.

Editor’s Note: This piece is adapted from the book Ego is the Enemy, published by Penguin/Portfolio.

Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Ego Is The Enemy and three other books. His monthly reading recommendations which go out to 50,000+ subscribers are found here.

Entrepreneurs

“It’s amazing how people can so readily crush someone’s dreams. Trust only those who believed in you when things were tough. They are the gems who will brighten your life.” – John Carlton

Why So Many Entrepreneurs Become Disillusioned

By Jonathan Fields

You finally started your own business or private practice. And, now, you’re in hell.

It’s three years in, and things aren’t going as planned.

Growth is slow, you’re spending so much time doing the grunt work and servicing customers, you have no time to focus on the big picture. Growth has stalled. Even if you’re growing, the grind is killing you. Your health and waistline, bahahahahaha. Gave that up long ago. Relationships, oy vey. Joy, done.

You secretly yearn for regular hours and a reliable paycheck, even if it means dealing with an idiot for a boss and purposeless existence.

So, you sit around, looking for a sign from God. And you’re not sure if you want her to tell you to continue, or to walk away. It’s not that you don’t believe there’s still great potential, it’s just that you have no idea how to right the ship and you feel like a prisoner.

I’ve had this conversation with so many entrepreneurs and shared the cautionary tale with so many aspiring entrepreneurs.

Being your own boss doesn’t automatically put you on the “yay train.”

So many entrepreneurs unwittingly build their own stress-addled, cash-poor cages, rather than engines of freedom, expression, and connection. Not because they’re stupid or incapable, but because they learned how to serve others, but not themselves.

The Cult of the Customer

The world of entrepreneurship is maniacally customer oriented these days. Identify and develop the customer, we’re told. It’s important, you don’t have a business without a customer. But, guess what…

Without a business that serves as a simultaneous engine not just of revenue and service, but of personal expression, connection, freedom and purpose, you don’t have a life!

Doesn’t matter how much money you make, or how many people you’re serving, every day you go to work will suck. Which means every day will suck, because you will always be working. Never having understood what you really wanted, or how to build something that not only gives the customer what he wants but also gives you what you need.

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While this phenomenon is rampant and growing in the world of startups and bootstrapped entrepreneurs, it’s also rampant in the world of private-practice professionals, creative pros, and even employees.

Newsflash…

Entrepreneurship is not about building a great business, it’s about building a great life.

But, you will never get what you want from the way you contribute to the world until you learn how to align your actions with your essence. And you cannot do that until you know who you are.

If your work lights you up, lets you express yourself, tap fiercely into your potential, play with people you love and earn enough to live well in the world, rock on. If not…

Do NOT pass go.

Do NOT suffer onward.

Do NOT keep welding the bars of your cage thicker and thicker.

Hit pause.

Ask yourself:

1. What do I care about?

2. What do I hold sacred, both in business and life?

3. What lights me up, what would I work hard to do for free?

4. What empties me out, emotionally, psychologically, and physically?

5. Who do I want to serve?

6. Do I care more about serving or building?

7. What do I value on a non-negotiable level?

8.What am I great at?

9. What am I terrible at?

10. How do I want to spend each day?

11. How do I want to live my life?

This is just the beginning of the inquiry, but if you start with these 11 prompts, you’ll have done vastly more than the average entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur or, frankly, even the average human to start understanding who you are and what you need.

And, you’ll start to cultivate the level of self-knowledge needed to build something that not only makes money and serves a need but also serves you and the life you seek to create.

Entrepreneurial failure to thrive isn’t just about a lack of money, knowledge or skill, it runs far deeper. With rare exception, it’s deeply rooted in self-ignorance.

Know yourself. Express yourself. Master yourself.

Then, build around that.

About the Author: Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, A-list blogger and serial wellness-industry entrepreneur. Fields writes about entrepreneurship and creativity at www.JonathanFields.com and interviews emerging world-shakers at www.GoodLifeProject.com. His latest book, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance, was named the #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-Read.

How To Get A Mentor

 


Need a Powerful Mentor? Here’s How You Get One

By Minda Zetlin @MindaZetlin

 

“I would be a success if only I had the right connections.” I’ve heard this complaint over and over. It’s as self-defeating as saying, “I could have had a great business, only I didn’t have any customers.” In both cases, the answer is the same: Go out and get some!

There’s a lot of great advice about how to do just that in Susan Shapiro’s Only as Good as Your Word, a book devoted entirely to mentorship. Shapiro is a poet and memoirist so her mentors are literary types. But her advice about how to make the connections that matter apply just as well to anyone in any career, and especially to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Wish you could enlist the kind of powerful mentors who can help you reach your loftiest goals? You can. Here’s how:

  1. Go where the action is.

Shapiro started life in Michigan, but as soon as she was able, she relocated to New York City, the center of the publishing world. That’s where she met nearly all the mentors who helped her along the way. Admittedly, New York is expensive and Silicon Valley is worse. And even if it were affordable, it might not be feasible for you to move there.

 

But even if you can’t or don’t want to relocate, look for opportunities to visit the places and events where potential mentors might be. Attend a conference–always a great way to meet all kinds of people–or plan a pleasure trip to a hot location and then ask for a quick meeting while you “happen to be” in town.

  1. Don’t act entitled.

“Don’t assume somebody will assist you out of benevolence or awe, or because you’re so incredibly cool and special,” Shapiro advises. Instead, as she points out, keep in mind that successful people are almost always incredibly busy. Chances are they won’t have time to bother with you unless you make them really like you. So first and foremost, be likable.

  1. Look for personal connections.

Yes, Warren Buffett would probably be a great mentor to have in your corner. But unless you have a personal connection, sending a blind email or letter to Buffett is unlikely to get you very far.

 

The mentors who are likeliest to help you the most are those that have some personal reason to wish you success. That might be because you have friends or colleagues in common, went to the same schools, come from similar backgrounds or have some other connection. One of Susan Shapiro’s mentors was the late poet Harvey Shapiro–they weren’t related, but she used their shared last name to create a bond.

When you reach out to someone based on a personal connection, make sure you put that information right up front–ideally in the subject line of your email. Start by talking about yourself and your wonderful project and the recipient may not read down to the paragraph about how you were referred by a good friend.

  1. Do a little research.

Before you ask someone for help, learn what you can about him or her. If you can refer to a pet project, book, blog post, or presentation, you’ll start out on your prospective mentor’s good side. A few minutes of searching and perusing social media may tell you that your target is especially interested in saving the rain forest, or has backed a new product, or plays the banjo. Knowing these things may help you connect as a person, and not just someone looking for a favor. And it will show that you’re serious enough to put in some time and effort.

  1. Give before you ask.

Shapiro recalls how an acquaintance called her. She had a new book out and he began by apologizing for having missed her several readings and book party. Then he proceeded to ask her for a valuable contact. She apologized herself and said she was too busy to help him just then. “He might have saved the day by simply saying, ‘I just ordered your book from Amazon. Can’t wait to read it,'” she adds.

If you’re asking advice, introductions, feedback about your business idea, investment or anything else, you should always be looking for ways to give as well. Shapiro advises showing up to events–preferably with friends–bringing gifts, sending congratulations when warranted, and treating for drinks and meals. Donating to your prospective mentor’s favorite charity is always a good idea as well.

  1. Respect your prospective mentor’s time.

“I would love it if you would check out my new app.” I get this kind of email all the time. Even more often, I get a request for an introductory conversation with some executive or other. In each case, it seems like a small and completely reasonable request for my time. In the aggregate, it’s impossible to say yes to everyone, so I generally say no.

This is one reason why meeting prospective mentors at a conference or other event is a great idea–they’re already there so you’re not asking for an extra investment of time. If you can’t do this, then do everything you can to use your target’s time with maximum efficiency. Mention any personal connection right up front, along with full information about your project and the help you’re seeking. If you leave a phone message (which I would never recommend as a first point of contact), include your email address and mobile number for texting. If you send an email, include your phone number in case the recipient would prefer to call.

  1. Flattery will get you everywhere.

Saying how much you liked someone’s book, blog post, or video interview will always get you more attention than if you just ask for a favor. Even from me–though it’s an old PR trick that I’ve long ago recognized to begin a pitch by saying you liked one of my stories, I always do open those emails whereas I don’t open most others. As Shapiro says, “Though I’d usually ignore a total stranger’s request…I answer nice fan letters from anybody who appears sane.”

  1. Start with an easy request.

Don’t make the mistake of asking your prospective mentor to invest/introduce you to a bigwig contact/sit on your advisory board when you first make contact. You want your initial request to be something very easy to say yes to. “Can I send you a little information about my project?” is usually a fairly safe place to start.

  1. Share only relevant information about yourself.

Don’t make the fatal mistake of going on and on about how wonderful you and/or your project are. “One executive I know says if the first lines of the cover letter contain three ‘I’s in a row, the answer is already no,” Shapiro notes.

Yes, you must blow your own horn so that your target understands why spending time on you would be worthwhile. But only include information that’s likely to really matter to him or her. Y Combinator invested in your startup? Definitely mention that. You graduated Phi Beta Kappa? Unless contacting an academic, keep that to yourself.

  1. Don’t brag about your failures.

It’s surprising how many people begin their pitches by saying how many times they’ve been rejected, Shapiro says. Yes, it denotes tenacity which is a good thing. But if you tell people you’ve been rejected 50 times, they will inevitably wonder why that is. Instead, reframe your failures as near misses, or look for the small successes within them. (Maybe your product failed but you did a good job of getting it to market quickly, for instance.)

  1. Look for chances to return the favor.

Any time someone mentors you or does you a favor, keep your eyes open for chances to give back. This might mean promoting product on your blog, promoting their next event on your social media, or even investing in a pet project of theirs.

Another way to pay back is to pay forward–by becoming a valued mentor yourself. No matter who you are, there are people who could benefit from your advice and assistance, whether newcomers to your industry, interns, entry-level employees, or students. So extend yourself because it’s good karma. It’s also unfair to expect to receive if you aren’t willing to give.