4 Ways Documenting the Journey Has Become More Popular Than Celebrating the Outcome

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LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is popularly quoted as saying that an entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.

While this is a bit of an exaggerative description, it accurately captures the common experience that all entrepreneurs share — their journeys as they build something from nothing.

Not all entrepreneurs can relate to high-profile exits, initial public offerings and the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine. Being an entrepreneur is an extremely personal experience that permeates all aspects of life. The ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures are all parts of this experience and are what bond entrepreneurs together.

Whether you are an entrepreneur who has taken multiple companies to successful and profitable exits or a first-time founder grinding away through late nights, you all share this journey in common.

And while media tends to highlight the huge successes and massive failures, I often wonder why they miss out on covering the thousands of entrepreneurs who are hustling and living out their journey on a day-to-day basis.

Interestingly enough, within the past month, I came across two online publications that were recently featured on Entrepreneur.com for theirInstagram Accounts — HDFMAGAZINE and PRSUIT

While the lineup of all seven accounts is quite impressive, these two brands clearly had an interesting angle.

HDFMAGAZINE (Hustle & Deal Flow), founded by Matt Gottesman, documents the journeys of entrepreneurs (which they call “creators”) from around the world as they’re building their company. In essence, they feature the “hustle” and not the end results of success that many media outlets tend to do.

PRSUIT, founded by Case Kenny, has created an impressive content platform providing “perspective that inspires”. That is, they feature over 400 writers from around the world who are writing about their journeys to success.

I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with the both of them, and in doing so I recognized four key trends about the entrepreneurial journey as inspired by two guys who are personally documenting it.

1. Entrepreneurship is all about the work you put in.

Ask any entrepreneur about his or her journey, and work ethic will surely come up fast. It doesn’t matter where you are on your entrepreneurial journey, consistently and effectively putting in the necessary work is something that all creators and founders can relate to.

Late-night hours, early-morning meetings and weekends are part of this hustle — and is something that unites entrepreneurs.

PRSUIT founder Case Kenny says that “entrepreneurs we interact with pay no attention to the hours they are working. They simply put in the work necessary to progress their visions. When you are chasing your passion, the hours mean nothing  — because you are truly enjoying your journey and know that your time will ultimately pay off.”

2. The journey is something that unites all of us entrepreneurs.

Because we can’t all relate to regular nine-to-five jobs, societal norms or working in environments that suppress our creativity, entrepreneurs do not want to feel alone. We’d rather gravitate towards each other in order to feel our version of “normal,” which is quite the opposite to the general public.

What ends up happening is pure collaboration. We not only support each other, but we share our resources, promote our ventures and introduce our networks.

In essence, we’re not concerned with the end result but the road ahead of us, and we do so by helping each other grow through it.

“Taking a leap of faith takes courage,” says Matt Gottesman. “You don’t know the outcome, and most people are not willing to take that leap. What creeps in are all those negative inputs from others who are not willing to do what you are. So, the next best thing is to associate yourself with people who are — and they will grow you just as you grow them.”

3. The lessons are in the details.

You will never know how to successfully manage a company unless you experience and embrace the finer details of running it. And you can’t do that without fully immersing yourself in the details.

Ask any entrepreneur how they have learned the skills and know-how they now possess, and they will tell you that they learned from doing. Trial and error. Success and failure. That is how you learn.

You learn the skills necessary from the ground level, not just from reading books and studying the craft. Entrepreneurs know this and embrace the experience.

“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Kenny says. “Entrepreneurs check their egos at the door and acknowledge that they don’t know everything. What they do know, however, is that if they try and dive in headfirst, they will find out. Entrepreneurs need to be fearless in their pursuit of experiences that will progress their visions. The only way to know what you don’t know is to try.”

4. The journey is what makes you great.

When media looks at the successes of most entrepreneurs, they’re looking at the end product. The fact is, what made that end product or outcome was a culmination of sleepless nights, daily sacrifices, countless adjustments and numerous character-building obstacles.

A successful person, whether it be an athlete, entrepreneur, actor or business person, is created during all the finer details from the lessons mentioned above. That is why you see the person standing before you. The journey was through the training in order to become great.

Where do we go from here?

With the rise of social media and Internet platforms that allow us to document our endeavors in real time, it would be most appropriate to say we’re heading into a newer storytelling generation of creativity and entrepreneurship.

I, too, find comfort in outlining the day-to-day details in my Instagram and SnapChat accounts (@matt-mayberry). I want people to see the actual work as it’s happening and not think of me as only an end result. It’s about demonstrating the work — and not glorifying my successes.

I believe the more you can document the hustle, the more you can impact others who are watching. That’s how I see serving my purpose.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Dare Great in Order to Be Great

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I gave a keynote a few weeks ago at an Entrepreneurship conference, and when I opened up for Q&A, I received a question that had me thinking long and hard. The question was, “How do you become an entrepreneur if you hate to take risks?”

My answer was short and simple. I said, “I’m sorry ma’am but it’s not possible.” I didn’t want to sound rude or negative. I had just finished motivating and inspiring a crowd of 600 people on how absolutely nothing is impossible, yet just answered a question saying the exact opposite.

There was just no other way to put it. Not only do you need to take risks as an entrepreneur, but you must absolutely get comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to be great.

How many people do you know personally who have missed opportunities because they were too scared to move past their comfort zone and away from their safety net? I bet you can come up with a few without even thinking long and hard about it. Heck, you may even start to look at your own life and realize how many incredible opportunities were left to die, simply because you never acted and decided to take a risk.

Please understand me on this. I am not telling you to be irresponsible or to run blindly into the abyss of extreme risk without thinking it through and weighing the pros and cons. What I am telling you however, is that after you have done all of that — just get going! Not only do most people not take risks, but they over think and talk themselves out of it when they’re on the verge of moving forward.

A quote that I have lived by when it comes to taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone is this one by Abraham Maslow, “You will either step forward into growth or step back into safety.” I absolutely love those words and find it to be a question that we should ask ourselves every single day of our lives.

We are either moving forward and growing or stepping backwards to what we are comfortable with. The only possible way that we can become all that we are destined to be in life and in business is to get uncomfortable and take risks. In everything that we do, the decision is up to us. Are we going to play it safe, or take risks to go after what it is we want?

Not only are great entrepreneurs risk-takers, but any man or woman who has left their place in history and done anything of significance during their time here on earth is. You simply can’t be great by staying in your comfort zone just because it feels good. Staying in your comfort zone and not living a courageous and daring life may feel good at the moment, but over time it will turn into regret and a life filled with “What if’s.”

I encourage you to take a long and close look at how courageously you have been living. Where do you stand? We all could benefit from making the decision to step away from our comfort zone more often. It turns out that the popular saying, “Better to be safe than sorry,” isn’t always applicable. Instead, let the words “Dare great in order to be great” guide your life from here on out.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Stop Paying Attention to the Non-Urgent in Your Life. Learn How to Single-Task.

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People are always talking about multitasking, and they think it’s a talent — but I think it’s counterproductive to success. It means you’re dividing your attention into a million parts. If you’re talking on the phone to a client but doing some kind of household chore or even reading a magazine while talking, you are not fully engaging your client. You’re not in the flow of the conversation.

Your client deserves better, don’t you think? In the same way, your life deserves better. The ability to single-task — to give one thing your undivided attention — is one of the keys to true productivity. Not the kind of productivity where you knock off 20 items from your to-do list while still managing to run 15 miles and respond to 20 emails. Sure, that kind of productivity feels good.

But I’m talking about the kind of productivity where you actually achieve your goals, where you accomplish important and long-lasting things. It means finishing major projects rather than doing a million little things that don’t add up to anything lasting. It means quality productivity instead of quantity productivity.

Once you’ve learned to give your undivided attention to that one thing —  to laser-focus on the important projects —  you will automatically shift into the flow. That’s because flow is how you get them done. You block out all extraneous noise, all phone calls, all menial tasks, all interruptions, and you just focus. You are able to sit and focus on that one task long enough to complete it. When you can work in the flow, you can accomplish anything.

Getting consumed by tedious tasks and busy work is a major battle many of us face each day. Every morning when we get up, the first thing on our minds should be the projects and tasks that will ultimately give us the biggest return on energy (ROE). The reason why this is extremely difficult for most people to do is because often what gives us the biggest ROE and reward is also usually the hardest and most time-consuming of everything that we have to do.

Sending emails, talking on the phone, cleaning up your desk and moving from place to place might seem like you are getting a lot done, but as I stated above, there is a major difference between quality productivity and quantity productivity. If we all took the time to assess our current habits and schedules and pinpoint what is consuming most of our time and energy, we may be surprised at how much time and effort we give to the non-urgent things in our lives.

Even though multitasking may make you feel accomplished temporarily, it’s not a way to go about business or achieving your main goal. It’s nearly impossible to be a master at your craft and become the absolute best if you’re always focusing your efforts in 10 different ways. By shifting our priorities to the big tasks and projects that add extreme value to our goals, we begin to feel accomplished and deeply fulfilled — not just a person accomplishing a lot of busy work.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Effort Is an Overlooked But Major Key to Success

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If you had to rate your effort on a scale from one to 10 and how much you give of it every single day, what would your score be? If you aren’t where you want to be or seeing the results that you want to see, then chances are a lack of effort over long periods of time may be the reason why.

Effort isn’t the only thing needed in order for you need to be successful and get to where you want to go, but it sure is an absolute must and something that lacks in a whole lot of people who desire massive amounts of success. If you followed around 10 people who were highly dissatisfied with their station in life, I can bet their effort wouldn’t even come close to someone who is doing the exact same thing they are doing except on a much higher level. Effort is the missing link.

 

The fact of the matter is this, anything and everything that you want to achieve this year has a price tag on it. You must give up something in order to get something, but the rewards and fulfillment that comes from true success are well worth the effort and fight every day.

As each day passes, we pay our lives for that day. As each month passes, we pay our lives for that month. As each year passes, we pay our lives for that year. We don’t get those days, months and years back, and the only thing that we have to show for it comes down to what kind of effort we gave throughout those days, months and years.

An often-overlooked but major key to success is to give an incredible and ridiculous amount of effort — the one thing that each and every one of us controls on a daily basis over long periods of time. That’s where the confusion enters in for most. Those who complain about their lot in life and how unlucky they have been are the same ones who only give maximum effort when they feel like it or when the timing seems to be right for them.

My good friend and bestselling author Rory Vaden said, “Success is never owned; it is only rented — and the rent is due every day.” That’s one of my favorite quotes and speaks volumes on the amount of effort and work that is required to be great and separate yourself from the pack of mediocrity. You don’t only give maximum effort when you feel good or the timing feels right. Champions give maximum effort every day of their life, even when they don’t feel like it. They pay their rent over and over, year after year, regardless of how much is in their bank account or what hardship they may be currently experiencing.

You will have different seasons in your life and business, no doubt about it. There will be times where great things will happen. There will be times where bad things will happen as well. But the one constant thing that you have the opportunity to control throughout everything that happens is your effort.

I think a lot of people look at some of the greatest athletes, executives and entrepreneurs in the world and automatically think to themselves how wonderful it must be to be in their shoes. What they don’t know is the sacrifice, work, and most importantly, the insane amount of effort that was required for 20-plus years, every day of their lives to get where they currently are at.

Orison Marden summed it all up perfectly when said, “What keeps so many people back is simply unwillingness to pay the price, to make the exertion, the effort to sacrifice their ease and comfort.”

You can learn all of the latest and best strategies in the world, but if you lack in effort, you will only get so far. It may not be the sexiest word or topic to talk about, but the one thing that effort does is produce results. Without it, 2016 will be a very long and average year.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

5 Ways to Get Out of a Rut and Enter a State of Flow

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More than likely, all of us at some point will feel like we are in some type of rut or struggle with getting back on our feet after getting knocked down so hard from sort of failure or hardship in life or in business.

Here are five ways to help you get out of a rut and enter a state of flow.

1. Solitude is king — find your special place.

What – who – do you want to become? You won’t know if you don’t pause and listen to yourself. We all have to do this more often. We have to listen to the silence. As Thomas Edison once said, “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst thinking has been done in turmoil.” We need regular time away from our everyday hectic lives and schedule specific time to just sit and think. Some of the greatest achievers to ever step a foot on this earth all spent time in solitude every day.

It can be very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. So often, we think that if we’re sitting in silence not doing anything, that we’re missing out on something important or not being productive. But that’s the farthest thing from the truth. When failure, disappointment or challenging times present themselves, as they will, what we need most is silence. One of the major reasons why so many get caught in a rut and can’t seem to move past failure is because all of their thinking and decision-making is being made in turmoil.

One of the hardest things to do when we are upset or mad is to go sit in silence, but this also has the potential to be one of the most rewarding things we can do. The great thinkers of this world all have a special place where they can go sit in complete silence and just think.

2. Take baby steps to get to where you want to go — but move!

It’s quite difficult to get into a state of flow and get your feet back on the ground, raring and ready to go after failure hits if you don’t take immediate action. Do not wallow in self pity and misery. Change your attitude to one of positive — and move! Maybe it’s only a baby step, but it’s a step. After failing or experiencing a rut that has you stuck, you might question everything in your life — your relationships, your career. A surefire way to stay exactly where you are is to do nothing, which is what a great majority of the population does.

The risk takers, the dreamers, the men and women who go on to create everlasting masterpieces get moving even while some of the most difficult times in their lives are right in front of them. There is a magical magnetic power that follows the person who is willing to take massive action even when times are not the best.

3. Exercise is king.

Especially after being in a major rut or failing tremendously, everyone needs an emotional lift. A way to blow off steam and frustration. Exercise offers many benefits. Many people experience being in the flow when they exercise. If you’re not accustomed to a daily exercise routine, I encourage you to start one now. A workout at the gym or even a brisk 30-minute walk can help.

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals including endorphins that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about your appearance and yourself when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem.

4. Write a ‘count your blessings’ list.

When you count your blessings regularly — and I recommend that you do this daily — you will feel significantly better and happier after each time. When you measure how much gratitude you feel in your life, you’re going to shift your mind and body much faster into a state of happiness and success. The more gratitude you feel, the faster your life will begin to change.

As you continue to count your blessings and to be grateful, you will begin to notice a bigger difference in the way you feel and your blessings, and gifts will multiply. What’s easy to do when we are in a rut or going through a painful time in life is to analyze and look at what’s going wrong. Shifting your focus on all of the good in your life instead can without a doubt redirect your direction.

Here are some sample ideas to get you started:

A: I am grateful and blessed for all of the tough times in my life, because they are teaching me to be strong, persistent and more motivated than ever to go after my true calling in life. If I never try, I’ll never know if I can achieve something, so I’m grateful that I can keep on trying.

B: I am grateful to have my health, energy, mobility, intelligence and the ability to earn a good living.

C: I am grateful and blessed to have a wonderful loving family and friends.

D: I am grateful and blessed to have a warm, comfortable home.

5. Discover the incredible benefits of meditation.

In my own personal experience, especially when the going gets tough, or I seem to be in a rut that I just can’t get out of, meditation has been one of the best ways to discover how to shift my body and mind to happiness and success. Numerous specialists and spiritualists provide online podcasts and classes on meditation and contemplation exercises. You can also find these in your community if you search online.

For example, Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra announced the launch of an all-new meditation experience called “Finding Your Flow.” They also offer “Oprah & Deepak’s 21-Day Meditation Experience,” co-produced by Harpo Studios and The Chopra Center. Other programs include “Creating Abundance,” “Perfect Health,” “Miraculous Relationships,” and “Desire and Destiny.” All of their workshops are designed to help you achieve flow. Go to www.Oprah.com/meditateand sign up for a free 21-day meditation experience.

These ideas have helped my life enormously, and I hope they will serve as a powerful and energizing inner guide for transforming your life when the down times of life get the best of you or a rut that you are in begins to seem never ending.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

High-Performance in Any Profession Is Rooted in Physiology

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For decades, scientists believed that once we reached adulthood, our brain was incapable of any change beyond than the negative alterations associated with disease and aging. We now know that the brain is incredibly dynamic, with a potentially unlimited ability to change throughout our entire lifespan. At any age, new neural pathways can be created and refined, and our gray matter can actually be thickened.

The brain’s plasticity is an infinitely precious quality that we can harness to move from habitual negative-feeling states, including depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — to an expanded experience of emotional well-being and happiness in our daily lives.

When you realize that what’s really driving our behavior is our thinking, then the next realization is that our thoughts are largely determined by our feelings — and these are driven by our emotions. Our physiology is made up of our feelings and thoughts. It’s really simple when you think about it.

This is one reason that many athletes, students, entrepreneurs and businesspeople lose time and time again and experience numerous failures that completely wipe them out — and why many give up after only one or two big failures. They let their feelings and emotions control their thoughts, and their thoughts control their actions. If they don’t learn how to change their emotions and feelings and turn their failures into success, then they will repeat them over and over again.

Sometimes, people will settle for second best or for mediocre lives because of their physiology. Their emotions. Their thoughts. They lose their drive and inspiration, and when they start feeling this way, this is going to affect their thoughts. Their thoughts may then lead to poor decisions or lack of decisions, which could ultimately cost them numerous breakthroughs, opportunities and financial rewards.

On the football field, when a player does not function at his best, part of that is because he doesn’t understand and integrate the complex internal and external systems and processes that need to be working harmoniously together to consistently perform better — i.e., being in the flow. And we’re not talking about physical injuries that limit a person from achieving his best — we’re talking about the emotional and mental processes.

When a player and his team lose a game, it’s important for the coaches and team members to take all of the bad plays, rethink the processes and create plans on how they can turn them into positives. This same physiological process can be applied to every walk of life, no matter if you’re a businessperson, a student, an athlete or a stay-at-home parent.

Being an athlete and having studied high performance for a great majority of my life, I am intrigued with the physiology and biology of my physical makeup, which has spurred a lot my research. I was fascinated with the thought that we as human beings are these giant computer systems operating on physiological data.

Physiology is just data or information streams like the data that is processed in a computer program. Your body is like a computer, and your information streams comprise your physiology. According to the online encyclopedia, a bit stream is a contiguous sequence of bits, representing a stream of data, transmitted continuously over a communications path, serially (one at a time). These vast streams of data are continually being sent and received from one physiological body system to another in the form of electrical signals, electromagnetic signals, chemical signals, pressure and sound and heat waves.

Everything is energy. Just like a computer, the human body is the ultimate performance machine, which is why it’s so important to take care of this body with good thoughts, good programming and good nutritious food and exercise. It doesn’t require different apps or an instruction booklet. It runs its physiological program whether we are aware of it or not.

At first, I didn’t fully understand the impact of physiological information flowing around our body 24/7. Very few people do. We all go about life existing — almost like robots — and some of us are more zombie-like than others. But the fact is, we exist almost on autopilot. We breathe, we eat, we think, we feel, we act, we love, we get angry, we get happy, we sleep, we dream. We experience highs and lows, successes, setbacks, heartbreaks and failures. Sometimes, we get up, dust ourselves off, and continue onward, doing the best we can and oftentimes, screwing up more than we succeed over and over again.

We seldom break down any one failure — or success, even — and try to figure out the components of the situation, let alone think about the data flow of information that comprises our systems and helps or deters us from the best performance possible. But if you’re anything like the high performers in the world, then you want to be the best. You’re not going to settle for seconds or thirds.

And once you reach the top, you’ll climb to the next plateau, higher and higher, over and over again. That’s the core makeup of high-performance individuals, and it’s all rooted in our physiology.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The Amazing Evolution and Power of Inside Sales

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Entrepreneurs, especially at those early-stage startups considering the best way to sell their products and services, should strive to know the power of inside sales, and how much the process has changed over the years due to the advent of virtual tools and technologies.

The role of virtually-based inside sales professionals has evolved into the fastest growing and most widely embraced selling channel across the globe. Outpacing traditional field sales by 300 percent in terms of job growth, many progressive organizations are either shifting resources from the field or just growing these inside positions altogether.

Here are three trends companies of all sizes need to truly consider when determining their best go-to-market sales strategy.

1. Sales has become digital.

Today’s buyers require immediately accessible information and sales interactions on their own terms. They want the option of a comprehensive and valuable sales engagement without the need for face-to-face interaction.

Research by CEB indicates 60 percent of the buying cycle has been completed digitally by decision-makers before they reach out to a sales rep. It also indicates that more and more complex, big-ticket sales are completed through a virtual sales exchange. The days of the face-to-face “dog and pony show” are long gone.

“The digital revolution is changing the way buying decisions are made and commerce is transacted,” said Bruno Di Leo, senior vice president of sales and distribution at IBM. “What individuals are experiencing as consumers is changing what they expect from IBM as an enterprise client. They want us to know them and understand their preferences, and get value from our expertise in new ways and on their own terms. … In other words, digital is central — not secondary.”

Simply put, most decision-makers these days prefer engaging virtually when making purchasing decisions. Whether it’s research on the web, a demonstration through screen sharing and/or video or the use of social media, busy buyers want information quickly and easily, in the comfort of their offices or via smartphones as they commute.

2. Digital has become the primary sales channel.

The digital and virtual way of doing business has arrived and is here to stay. In fact, traditional field salespeople have adopted some of the same strategies and tactics that inside salespeople have been using for years. This is because buyers demand it.

Extensive research in 2013 and again in 2014 by the AA-ISP (a global association dedicated to the advancement of inside sales) has shown that 95 percent of companies above $20 million in annual revenue have adopted the expertise of inside sales as a critical sales channel. Further, AA-ISP research indicates a significant shift from inside sales simply supporting field reps to carrying a discrete quota and responsibility over a set of accounts.

From 2010 to 2014, companies moving inside sales from a teamed support role into a “discrete” quota-carrying model rose from 32 percent to more than 50 percent. Research by ZS Associates and Reality Works in the fall of 2014 indicated that 40 percent of large companies (greater than $1 billion in annual revenue) in the technology space are specifically shifting headcount from the field to inside sales.

Finally, U.S. Dept of Labor statistics, combined with research by InsideSales.com, indicates that 750,000 net new inside sales jobs will be added from 2013 to 2020 — nearly three times the job creation rate compared to that of traditional field sales. Simply stated, virtual sales is alive and thriving. Face-to-face is on the decline. Inside sales has arrived as a true profession. In addition to having a global association (AA-ISP) dedicated to advancing their profession, both inside sales reps and leaders have their own virtual sales accreditation called the CISP (Certified Inside Sales Professional) and AISM (Accredited Inside Sales Manager).

3. Technology will continue to feed inside sales.

Those who earn a living selling virtually know only too well how technology has improved their sales results. Software-as-a-service companies have been launched in recent years to cater specifically to this digital sales revolution. These cloud-based service providers and their software applications help put an already efficient virtual process on “selling steroids.”

The potential for inside sales to produce revenue continues to grow, due in part to the advent of these tools and technologies. The 2014 study by ZS Associates and Reality Works indicates that the mean inside sales quota responsibility is $2.1 million for large enterprise companies and more than $1 million for small and medium businesses.

Easy-to-use software applications are helping reps in a variety of areas such as data analytics, sales acceleration, screen-to-screen selling and pre-call research. To keep these two-screen, wireless-headset on, always-in-their-cube reps motivated, gamification is deployed as a way to keep money- and status-motivated players on the hunt and engaged. Many inside sales organizations place large-screen TVs around their offices to highlight sales leader boards.

With all these great technologies comes a new set of skill requirements and a new way of selling. Traditional sales training, although valuable in many ways, is also changing. Many training firms are providing once unavailable deep tactical training on the how-to’s around the new set of virtual selling standards, such as enhanced pre-call research, email, social media, remote presentations and more.

The digital sales revolution will continue to adapt to meet the requirements of today’s virtually connected decision-makers. Entrepreneurs and business owners in all industries need to consider the best way to harness its power.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Bring Out Your Inner Genius and Exercise That Creative Muscle

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Chances are, if I asked a room of 10 people if they were creative or not, I would bet that more than half of them would say no. There is a huge myth that only a select few people are creative and have the potential to tap into their creative genius each day. I used to be one of those people.

I would convince myself over and over again that I am not creative at all, and that I just have to deal with it. I used to think about all of the books, articles and speeches that I wanted to create but then eventually talked myself out of it, because I would hit a wall and just tell myself that creativity isn’t a strong suit of mine.

You might not be thinking about what books, articles or speeches to create, but there has probably been a point in time where you have talked yourself out of pursuing something, because you convinced yourself that you lack a certain level of creativity that it takes to get the job done. The great fact of the matter is that everyone is creative and has the potential within them to tap into their inner creative genius.

I have people almost everyday tell me that they wish they were more creative. That used to be me. I would read great books and read profound articles and just think to myself — “How I wish I was as creative as the author who wrote that great book.” It wasn’t until a mentor of mine explained to me that I have all of the creativity that I need to create whatever it is I want. I just needed to develop it.

As a former athlete, those words ended up really striking a chord with me, because it dawned on me that just as an athlete needs to work on his sport and practice everyday to get better, I quickly came to the understanding that the exact same thing needs to happen in order to develop my creativity muscle. It’s true that a small percentage of men and women have developed their creative potential — while a great majority has not. It’s also true that those who haven’t don’t lack creativity or the potential to tap into their creative genius. It’s just that they haven’t developed and worked their creative muscles enough.

You don’t need to be a writer, artist  or musician to develop and strive to tap into your creative side. Life in general, and you becoming the very best version of yourself requires creativity. Stepping away from the norm and creating the life of your dreams requires creativity. Being a great leader requires creativity. Great marketing and business development requires creativity. While in pursuit of a major goal or dream, logic may tell you one thing and eventually lead you to a dead-end road, while the best of the best get creative, and ultimately create a path if there appears to be none in sight.

That’s part of the difference between those who make it and those who fall short. They understand the importance of developing the creativity muscle each and everyday, even if for just 10 minutes or so. When I stopped listening and abiding by what the creativity myth was telling me — that only a select few people have the potential to tap into their creative genius — my life took on a whole new meaning.

Start today to develop your creativity. Make it a daily habit to write in a journal, get on a writing schedule to simply just write what comes to mind or wherever your imagination takes you or use any other methods that may work best for you in the pursuit of developing your creative potential.

I know firsthand that developing your creativity and working at it each and everyday can do extremely wonderful things for your life, business and future. Don’t follow the enormous amount of people who leave their creativity potential dormant and locked away while blindly following whatever the masses of people do.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Why Every Company Needs a Dream Manager

20150306205712-man-daydreaming-thinking-looking-upImage credit: José Manuel Ríos Valiente | Flickr

Increasing employee engagement, creating a healthier culture and building a world-class organization that sees exceptional growth every year is what all leaders in any industry wants for their organization. If that is the goal for most leaders, then why do so few organizations succeed at the above three?

There are a ton of reasons that may be hindering an organizations success, but one key area that majority of companies completely neglect or refuse to pay any attention to is their employees’ personal dreams and desires.

I recently spent some time with Infusionsoft at their headquarters in Chandler, Arizona. You may have heard of them already, but Infusionsoft is a complete sales and marketing automation software for small businesses. I was completely blown away by their positive and healthy culture, employees and everyone’s eagerness to build the company to even greater success.

There are plenty of people who deserve credit for the culture at Infusionsoft, especially their CEO Clate Mask. What took me by surprise though was to find out that they have someone on staff who is actually labeled as their dream manager. Dan Ralphs, who is the dream manager at Infusionsoft, has one job description — to help the employees of the company achieve their personal dreams.

One of the company’s employees a few years back had read The Dream Manager by bestselling author Matthew Kelly. He loved the book so much that he desperately wanted to get it in the hands of Clate Mask, the CEO of the company. Being an avid reader and leader who is always looking to grow himself, Clate accepted the book and read it on a flight. Once he was finished with the book, he immediately knew that Infusionsoft was going to going to have a dream manager on staff.

In the book, Kelly writes, “The future of your organization and the potential of your employees are intertwined — their destinies are linked.” At Infusionsoft, you see this clearly, as employees are actively engaged in the workplace while passionately helping the organization build towards the grander vision while in return, the organization is passionately helping employees work towards their biggest personal dreams.

When talking to some of the employees at Infusionsoft, I would hear things such as, “I ran my first marathon because of Infusionsoft” or “I am almost out of debt because of Infusionsoft.” Hearing some of the personal dreams that have been accomplished is truly astonishing. Infusionsoft isn’t making miracles happen to make dreams come true for their employees, but they do show them that they immensely care about them as people and want to provide them with the resources and tools to help them achieve some of their biggest dreams in life. In return, they have employees who are extremely passionate about the company that they work for and are actively engaged in the workplace.

“The Dream Manager concept provides a revolutionary way of reversing this crippling trend toward disengagement and demonstrates how organizations large and small can actively engage their people once again, thus creating a competitive advantage of monumental proportions,” Kelly says.

You might be asking, how exactly does the dream manager program work? At Infusionsoft, every employee has the opportunity to meet with Dan Ralphs, the company’s dream manager. He asks them to write down one hundred dreams and eventually they pick one dream together and start to develop a plan on how to accomplish it. From there they have follow up meetings and track the progress of where everyone is at in relation to achieving their dream for the year.

The absolute best way to transform a company is to transform the people within that company. Regardless of what industry you are in or how big or small your company is, one of the best ways to engage your people, create a healthy culture, and get everyone on board to work towards the organization’s grander vision is to care and help them achieve their personal dreams.

You may come up with something completely different than what Infusionsoft has adopted or what Mattew Kelly writes about in his book,The Dream Manager, but the one thing you can’t ignore is constantly looking for ways to grow and develop your people. After all, your company can only become as great as the people within it.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Ask Yourself These 3 Questions to Set Yourself on a Path to a Better Life

1408472232-5-questions-great-managers-need-ask-themselves-dailyImage credit: Leo Reynolds | Flickr

The power of choice is truly extraordinary. Choice is one of the few things that most people leave out of the equation when thinking about all of the reasons that separates those who achieve their biggest goals and dreams compared to those who don’t. The one thing that each and every one of us has is the incredible potential to live a remarkable life and be great in our own right.

We choose our habits. We choose the action or lack of action that we are going to take on a daily basis. We choose how hard we work. We choose what we think about all day long. Every thing that you do on a daily basis comes from a choice. Living a better life, building a more successful business and becoming happier all comes down to making better choices.

Here are three questions that can greatly benefit the direction and quality of your life if you begin asking and answering them regularly.

1. Where am I right now?

This is an extremely powerful question to ask because most people don’t take even five minutes out of their days to think about where they currently are in life. They know deep down that they are miserable but they just continue to coast along the path they are headed down because they fail to ask this important question.

The key when asking this particular question is to be honest with yourself. When you are honest with yourself, you are offered the opportunity for growth that will in the long run help you get to where you want to go.

Some days I have setbacks and don’t take strides forward, but as long as I am honest with myself when asking this question before I go to bed, I am able to know where I stand and what steps need to be taken to move forward. Take the time to analyze your life and really take a long and hard look at where you currently are.

2. Where do I want to be?

This question is all about what you want out of your life. What are you putting in the long hours for? What gets you so excited that it keeps you up at night? Once you know where you currently are in life, you then must analyze where you want to be.

Most people have no clue where they want to be. They wake up in the morning 30 minutes before they have to be in the office, go to work, do enough to get the job done and then head home before they have to do it all over again. They follow this exact pattern for the next 40 years.

If you don’t take the time to think about where you want to be, the circumstances of life and other people’s agendas will determine that for you. You deserve better.

3. What are the steps needed to bridge the gap?

This third question is the one that requires the actual work and action, so it’s the one that is easiest to neglect. After you discover where you currently are and where you want to be, the next question that you must ask yourself is what are all of the things that you must do to bridge the gap between the two. This is going to require several sessions of strategic thinking on your part, and may even take several weeks.

Another thing to note is that your answers to this question will never stop. As time goes on, more answers will come your way. The more you strategically think about what you have to do to get to where you want to go, the better and more efficient answers will begin coming to you.

Whether we are talking about an individual or organization, these are three questions that when answered carefully can dramatically increase efficiency, performance and motivation. I often write the above questions in my moleskin journal to constantly remind myself of my progress, then start the process of transferring all of the things that I have to do to my daily task list.

When you take time out to answer these questions regularly, you give your life meaning and purpose. The power of choice is truly extraordinary.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

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