How This Entrepreneur, at Age 32, Has Already Built a Thriving Restaurant and Entertainment Company

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One of the things I find deeply fascinating are the backstories of incredibly successful individuals. We know them for the accolades they receive for their success and for their public profiles. But when you dig a little deeper into those stories to find out makes them tick, you often discover a wealth of knowledge that will help guide you along your own journey.

You may initially label these people as “lucky” and wish that you too could attain their level of success, but it’s not just their success where you should be looking . . .

Instead, what all highly successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, athletes and all others at the top of their game possesses is an unwavering desire to be the best, master their craft, relentlessly fight until they get to where they want to go and never stop learning and getting better.

I recently had the great fortune to sit down with one of these individuals, Carmen Rossi. Rossi is an attorney and extraordinarily successful restaurant entrepreneur who’s relatively young, at age 32. He is the founder of the Chicago-based company, 8 Hospitality Group, a restaurant, hospitality-development and management company that has 900-plus employees. It specializes in food and beverage marketing, branding, promotions, public relations and operations.

8 Hospitality Group, Rossi told me, sees food and beverage as a lifestyle that is maintained through valuable experiences and mutually beneficial relationships with the community.

I spoke with him further about how he was able to achieve entrepreneurial success at such a rapid rate. An attorney by trade, he built one of the most dominant hospitality companies in Chicago — one that continues to expand and reach new heights. Here are four key things that Rossi attributed his success to, attributes that I think could greatly benefit others on the entrepreneurial and professional paths.

1. Move past the fear.

In my work as a keynote speaker and consultant working with some of the biggest brands in the world, I have concluded that one of the biggest reasons why so many organizations and individuals stay stagnant and never experience major breakthroughs is fear. When Rossi earned his law degree from Northern Illinois University and later discovered that he wanted to take a chance in the hospitality market, with no background in hospitality management or culinary arts, he was initially consumed with fear.

“The biggest thing for me in that moment was that I had to move past the fear. I was absolutely terrified, but I was willing to bet on myself, and it ended up being one of the best decisions I ever made,” Rossi told me.

One of the biggest pieces of advice that I ever received which has positively shaped my life is to “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Fear is a common emotion, but the best of the best fully understand that once they feel the fear, they don’t let it paralyze them from taking action and going after what they want.

What are you fearful of right now? Write down that fear and then take the time to put in your calendar what your next course of decisive action is going to be. As Rossi put it, “You can’t build anything of great value and achieve lasting success if you let fear be the driver of your life.”

2. Be “pro” community and government.

When I asked Rossi what he saw as separating him from everyone else, he mentioned his philosophy of being pro-community and government. “The hospitality industry is a great way to engage the community and make a positive difference in the local government,” Rossi said to me.

The takeaway here, he said, is how he decides on new concepts, how he’s always thinking about how he can actively engage the community and positively influence civic and social issues within that community. “You see a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses trying to find ways to shortchange the government,” he said, “but I have found that the more I can get involved and make a difference in the local government is where the real change and success lies.”

How has this philosophy paid off for Rossi? Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel appointed him as commissioner on landmarks while Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner selected him for a member of the Illinois Economic Development board. Even if you yourself have no desire to get involved in politics in any capacity, making a positive difference in your local community and being “pro-government” can catapult you to business success just like as it has for Rossi.

3. Be a “craftsman.”

The one specific mindset that has been a huge driving force in my success, first as a professional athlete, and now as an entrepreneur, is the mindset of a craftsman. By that, I mean becoming a lifelong learner of your craft, committing to never stop growing and relentlessly searching for ways to maximize your potential and get better at what it is you do.

Rossi said, “When I travel and go to other cities, I am constantly looking for ways to adopt new concepts and refine my approach and what my next move will be.” He continued, “I guess you can call it ‘obsessiveness,’ to a degree, but I think that all entrepreneurs need to have a healthy amount of obsession if they truly want to succeed in the long haul.”

One of the best decisions you can make that will take your performance and professional success to the next level is to commit to a never-ending development of yourself and your craft.

4. Don’t let crisis define you.

“I think a huge determining factor in whether someone has the guts to be a successful entrepreneur and win in business is to never give up the fight and break stride after you repeatedly get hit in the face and knocked down,” Rossi said to me.

Besides fear, I think that the inability to move past failure and keep standing when the going gets tough is what holds many back from living their absolute best life and tapping into their full potential.

It’s important to note that I am not talking just about adversity in business, but about life in general. Life will always throw you curveballs and unexpectedly take your breath away at times, but the one thing you control is how you respond. “I have had a great deal of struggles and adversity throughout my career, but one of the hardest things that I ever had to do was continue to move forward when I lost my mother unexpectedly. It crushed my entire world, but I knew that I couldn’t let this crisis define me or get in the way of my grand vision,” Rossi said.

Already, they’ve helped shape Carmen Rossi into the successful entrepreneur he is today, allowing him to build a thriving organization that is taking over the Chicago hospitality market.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How to Turn Crisis into Clarity and Ignite Growth

Image credit: Gibson

One of the most challenging and daunting tasks any leader will face is learning how to successfully lead through change and not only survive extreme adversity but still create massive growth.

In life as well as business, there will be times when negative, perhaps unthinkable, situations arise, and we are forced to think fast and make our move.

Often, people in these circumstances fall victim to curling back up in their comfort zone and avoiding further discomfort, by any means necessary. But in business, this becomes a tragic formula that over time can force an organization, regardless of size, to close its doors. As an entrepreneur and leader of that organization, you must not only be obsessively good at putting out fires but at figuring out how to turn crisis into clarity and the ignition of tremendous growth.

As a former professional athlete, called on to perform under intense pressure and turn negatives into breakthroughs, I learned what separates an average player from a great one. The same exact characteristics are needed to win and thrive in business.

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Tim Leman, chairman and CEO of Gibson, an Indiana-based insurance, risk-management and health-benefits advisor. Tim has an amazing passion for leadership, and his track record of success shows it. Under Leman’s leadership and guidance, Gibson has endured a lot of rapid change in the marketplace and has risen to become one of the top insurance agencies in North America.

Leman is also the author of the book rEvolution, the powerful story of his  transformation from a first-time CEO to head of a thriving professional services firm. rEvolution provides personal insights and practical guidance on how to utilize a business crisis to bring about change, evolution and growth.

Leman and I discussed his evolution as a leader and five key leadership traits that helped him turn crisis into clarity and ignite growth.

1. Resilience

All great leaders, regardless of industry, are extremely resilient and never quit at the first sign of trouble. In 2009 and 2010 ,when the recession was in full swing, 10 percent of Gibson’s workforce was laid off.

“We were in financial turmoil and it would have been so easy to give up and sell in that moment of time,” Leman told me. Even though giving up and selling the company would have been the easiest route, Leman remained resilient and didn’t give in. “Without dogged perseverance and a tenacious personal belief system I wouldn’t have made it,” he acknowledged. “You have to survive to even have the chance to evolve. Don’t give up the fight.”

I couldn’t agree with Leman more. The best leaders, teams and organizations never give up the fight regardless of how tough things are at the moment. So, get connected to your personal belief system just as Tim Leman did. Why do you do what you do? What’s your long-term vision? How do you want to be remembered as a leader?

In order to build a great company and successfully lead through change, you must become the most resilient person you know. Don’t give up the fight!

2. Introspection

Being introspective doesn’t happen right away for a lot of leaders. One of the easiest things in the world to do is to constantly place the blame elsewhere and never look within to question your own actions and beliefs.

“What changed for me was getting crushed in my ‘360’ reviews [employee and supervisory feedback], which started the process for me of looking within and then wanting to change for the right reasons,” Leman told me. “The best leaders are always looking for ways to maximize their efficiency and be better more of the time. One of the best ways to do this is to make it a priority to take a weekly or monthly review of your leadership style and ask yourself how you can become a more effective leader.”

Leman added, “The ability to self-correct is critical to improving your leadership style. Leaders without followers can’t drive change. Become more self-aware or find others to help you.”

3. Adaptability

The market and world we live in is constantly changing, which means that as leaders we must be more adaptive than ever and willing to change, as well. And change is hard; change is extremely uncomfortable. But it’s an absolute must if you are looking to create extraordinary breakthroughs.

Leman said, “Nothing is static these days, and you can’t afford to be, either. Transform or die. It’s a message that you have to be communicating to your team all the time.” He went on to say, “The more prepared your team is to live in a fluid and evolving world, the easier it will be to implement necessary change in your organization.”

Be adaptive and willing to step out of your comfort zone. Some of my own biggest breakthroughs in business have taken place when I forced myself to get uncomfortable. You will never experience greatness in anything if comfort is what you seek.

4. Collaboration

“Collaboration is about input and influence versus coercion. Your people want to be heard, understood and most importantly, actively involved,” Leman said to me.

The greatest leaders and coaches in the world will be the first to tell you that the success they are experiencing is because of the people they have around them. Not only have they done a great job of creating more leaders and positioning themselves around the right people, but they have also created a collaborative culture where everyone is in tune with what is going on.

To give you a perfect example of what this culture may look like, Leman decided that he wanted to be 100 percent transparent with his employees and start sharing all the financials with them and where the company was headed. This authentic approach did wonders for him as leader, and he was able to create a culture based on trust and honesty. Authenticity is a quality that will always help a leader prevail.

5. Clarity

One of the most fascinating things about the work I do as a keynote speaker is to experience firsthand the disconnect between management and everyone else within an organization. Before each and every speaking engagement, I spend a great deal of time with the leadership and then with some of the other employees.

And it’s always amazing to me to hear leadership describe the company’s vision as one thing, while each employee I talk to says something completely different. Great companies don’t have this disconnect: Everyone within the organization is very clear about what the vision is and what’s required of him or her each and every day at work. “No strategy or tactic can trump organizational clarity,” Leman said. “Clarity creates an organizational road map to success. It drives faster and better decision-making while increasing trust.”

I hope these five traits that have helped Tim Leman build a great company and turn crisis into clarity and growth add value to your own leadership style wherever you may be in your journey.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

How to Never Let Fear Hold You Back Again

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Nothing holds people back from tapping into their full potential and becoming the best version of themselves more than fear. Fear shatters dreams, prevents organizations from achieving major breakthroughs and is the root cause as to why so many end up going to their grave with all of their talents, hopes and wishes still unexpressed.

Whether it is the fear of public speaking, fear of pursuing an enormous dream, of failure or of what others may think of you, it’s not actual fear that is holding you back. It’s the made-up story that you continually tell yourself about the fear that is stealing your happiness, your peace of mind and your ability to unleash an unlimited amount of potential into the world.

Fear itself, of course, is normal. When you set out to pursue your deepest desires and live a bold life, it’s completely natural for fear to creep in and scare you from time to time. What makes all the difference as to whether your fears paralyze you or catapult you to new heights depends on your reaction and response to the fear.

There have been many times in my life when fear held me back. The experience I remember most was getting hurt in my very first game in the NFL. I was playing for my hometown team the Chicago Bears and living a dream of mine that I had desperately wanted since I was a little kid. In the blink of an eye, however, I lost my dream and was left broken-hearted and emotionally crushed.

Fear attacked me from all different sides. Not only did it get the best of me, but it also dominated every thought, action and belief I had at the time.

I was officially a victim of my circumstances. The fear of the unknown, of failure and of what others thought of me caused me to go into severe depression and lock myself in my room for weeks. Fortunately, I was able to overcome that dark period of my life where fear was the main driver of my destiny.

I still get scared all the time. Fear still creeps into my life on a daily basis multiple times throughout the day. The only difference now is that I know how to never let fear defeat me and prevent me from living courageously.

Here are two ways that will help you to never let fear hold you back again.

1. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Fear can only win and get the best of you if you don’t take action and push forward. One of the easiest things that you can do to ensure that you never let fear hold you back from this point moving forward is to feel the fear and do the task anyways. As soon as you feel the fear, take action and get moving as quickly as possible.

Unlike what a lot of people think, you don’t need to have everything figured out and know every little detail before you get moving. It’s great to prepare and have a plan, but once you do everything in your power to put yourself in a position to win, the next step is to become obsessed with taking action.

Regardless of what type of fear we are talking about, when you make it a habit to “feel the fear and do it” anyways, you not only build self-confidence, you also gain incredible strength little by little. Amazing things begin to take place for those who feel the fear and still take massive action.

2. Change your personal philosophy on failure.

Even though I have been referring to all kinds of fears leading up this point, the fear of failure is the one fear that inhibits most from going after what they really want and breaking free from the chains of mediocrity. When you start to view failure as a blessing in disguise and an opportunity to help mold you into the person you need to become, your life will never be the same again.

As I state in this short video clip from a recent keynote that I gave to a large group of leaders, the best of the best view failure and adversity as a tremendous gift.

The tough times are there only to help us become the best version of ourselves. When you make this mental shift and change your personal philosophy on failure, the fear of failure will never hold you back again.

When you start to become intentional in your actions and do something each and every day that takes you out of your comfort zone, fear has absolutely no chance of winning. Live boldly!

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

The 24 Best Podcasts for Entrepreneurs In 2017

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Entrepreneurs and business leaders have turned to podcasts as a great source of inspiration and education. But with more business podcasts launching into the iTunes store to meet the growing demand, it’s getting harder and harder to find the best podcasts for entrepreneurs.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of the best podcasts for entrepreneurs and executives. You might have heard of more publicized podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show and Entrepreneur on Fire, but this list covers a wider range of podcasts and includes a lot of new and noteworthy examples, like Powderkeg: Igniting Startups and Breaking Into Startups, that you shouldn’t ignore.

Here are the 24 best podcasts for entrepreneurs in 2017.

Starting Up Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

1. StartUp

StartUp is one of 10 shows produced by podcasting company Gimlet Media. Co-hosted by Gimlet CEO Alex Blumberg and former FiveThirtyEight editor Lisa Chow, it tells the story of how Blumberg founded Gimlet and everything he learned along the way. It tackles all the issues of starting a company, like naming it, valuing it and bringing on partners through a personal, narrative lens.

2. Mixergy: Startup Stories

What makes Mixergy unique is that host Andrew Warner arranges some of his interviews with world-renowned entrepreneurs into online business courses. The “Starting a Business” course presents six interviews in an order that works as a “how-to” guide for building a company, with each successive interview delving deeper into the topics of product development, customer acquisition and sales.

3. How to Start a Startup

Back in the fall of 2014, Y Combinator president Sam Altman gave a one-semester crash course at Stanford University on how to start a startup. Bringing in 29 other Y Combinator alumni as guest speakers, he put together 20 lectures on running a startup from inception to later-stage concerns. The lectures were recorded and have since been archived under the appropriate title, “How to Start a Startup,” and can be downloaded as video or audio files.

4. Entrepreneur On Fire

EOFire is an award-winning podcast where host John Lee Dumas interviews the most inspiring entrepreneurs seven days a week. Every single day, you can expect to hear incredible stories from highly successful entrepreneurs, actionable ideas that can transform your business, and be inspired to build the life of your dreams.

5. Powderkeg: Igniting Startups

A newcomer to the business podcast lineup, Powderkeg is already turning heads in the industry with a solid lineup of guests, in-depth interviews, and informative content. Focusing on the tech industry, this show reveals how entrepreneurs outside of Silicon Valley found traction and ultimately, success. Energetic host Matt Hunckler taps into the minds of top-tier entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators to provide insights that will help aspiring founders no matter where they’re located.

Leadership and Productivity Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

6. Jocko Podcast

Jocko Willink is a retired Navy SEAL officer who doesn’t beat around the bush and tells it like it is. You are sure to learn key lessons on leadership, work ethic, and discipline that will help you to become the best version of yourself. Apple recently named Jocko Podcast one of the best podcasts of 2016 having this to say about it, “Leadership, fitness, military history — retired Navy SEAL Jocko and his guests turn any topic into a riveting life lesson.”

7. Self Made Man

In a nutshell, Self Made Man is a self-improvement podcast. Investor, entrepreneur and host Mike Dillard, along with each episode’s guest host, offers advice on how to improve yourself so that you can improve the world and achieve true greatness. The show places a special emphasis on business and finance but also covers topics like health and relationships.

8. The Action Catalyst with Rory Vaden

The Action Catalyst podcast will inspire you to start taking action on what matters most in your life and how to take your productivity to the next level. Self-discipline strategist and New York Times bestselling Author Rory Vaden Co-Founded Southwestern Consulting, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice that helps clients in more than 14 countries get extraordinary results.

9. The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss Show is the first business/interview podcast to surpass 100,000,000 downloads and when you listen in, you will be able to see exactly why. Angel investor and #1 New York Times bestlling Author Tim Ferriss interviews world-class performers from all different industries on what helped catapult them to the top and provides actionable advice you can implement into your own routine. Former guests include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, and many more.

10. Youpreneur FM

Lots of modern entrepreneurs are successful because they create a personal brand. Chris Ducker is one such person, and his Youpreneur podcast is aimed at instructing its listeners in all things personal brand entrepreneurship. He and his guests, which include top online business minds, cover everything from building your brand to creating products and marketing yourself in order to teach you how to succeed as a solopreneur.

Innovation Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

11. This Week in Startups

This Week in Startups has a finger on the pulse of the tech industry. As the name implies, host Jason Calacanis brings on a guest entrepreneur each week and talks about what’s happening right now in tech. The podcast is a combination of current events, company profiles and insider gossip, which means there’s so much juicy information packed into each episode that you can’t go wrong by tuning in.

12. The Twenty Minute VC

Have you ever wanted to get into the mind of a venture capitalist? (Here’s a hint: you should.) The Twenty Minute VC does just that. Host Harry Stebbings interviews two prominent VC investors each week, delving into why they do what they do and what they’re looking for in a startup. The show is also notable for being brief and to the point, with most episodes clocking in at around 20-30 minutes.

13. The Full Ratchet

Angel investor Nick Moran came up with the idea for The Full Ratchetas a result of his own difficulties obtaining clear and actionable information on how to be a good investor. He decided to start recording his chats with industry veterans to help investors and entrepreneurs understand how the whole funding process works. Like The Twenty Minute VC, this podcast teaches you how investors think and what will persuade them to buy into your company.

14. a16z Podcast

According to Silicon Valley-based VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (or a16z), “software is eating the world.” Their podcast brings on tech experts and business leaders to talk about the current state of devourment, discussing tech news, industry trends and what the future holds. If you want to hear what industry behemoths have to say about their work and the world, then this is the show for you.

15. Breaking Into Startups

Breaking Into Startups has only aired a few episodes, but it’s off to a very promising start. Created by Artur Meyster, Timur Meyster and Ruben Harris, the program shares the stories of people who broke into the tech industry from nontraditional backgrounds. The goal is to encourage and inspire people who want to get into tech by teaching them how to leverage their unique experiences in other industries.

Sales and Marketing Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

16. Marketing School

Neil Patel and Eric Siu are experts in digital marketing, and they share a bit of their knowledge every day in Marketing School. Each episode provides you with a unique online marketing tip in fewer than 10 minutes. It’s a great podcast for anyone looking to roll up their sleeves and get to work implementing actionable advice on a daily basis.

17. Social Pros

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert and Adam Brown of Salesforce co-host this podcast about how to market your business on social media. Each week, they interview a leading social media strategist from a prominent company (think Dell, IBM and ESPN) to pick their brain and discuss the latest trends in social media marketing.

18. SaaStr Podcast

From software-as-a-service community SaaStr comes the SaaStr podcast, presented by venture capitalist Jason Lemkin and hosted by Harry Stebbings of The Twenty Minute VC. The show focuses on the world of SaaS, bringing on business owners as well as investors to explore what it takes for companies to succeed in their highly competitive market. SaaStr’s trademark area of focus is on advising startups how to go from $0 to $100 million ARR faster.

19. The #AskGaryVee Show

CEO, entrepreneur, angel investor and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk has built his personal brand with social media, and now he’s helping others do the same with his show, #AskGaryVee (available in video and audio). The show follows a simple Q&A format, with Gary answering viewer-submitted questions about marketing, social media and entrepreneurship.

20. The Growth Show

If you’re looking for advice on growing your business (and why shouldn’t you be?), then The Growth Show is just the ticket. It’s produced by HubSpot and features guests who have achieved remarkable growth with their businesses, delving into how they did it and what it was like to go through the transition. It’s sure to give you plenty of ideas and strategies for taking your business to the next level.

Inspirational Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

21. The School of Greatness

The School of Greatnes which is hosted by successful entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author Lewis Howes will without a doubt inspire you to achieve your biggest goals and dreams. Lewis is a phenomenal interviewer who asks great questions. This is one of the most popular podcasts each and every year for a reason. It never disappoints.

22. Smart Passive Income Podcast

Pat Flynn is known in the blogging and podcasting spheres for building an online business almost entirely through passive income channels. On his Smart Passive Income podcast, he shares tons of passive income strategies that work as well as all the ones that don’t. Building passive income streams is all about working hard now so you can sit back and watch the cash flow in later!

23. Eventual Millionaire Podcast

Jaime Masters thought at a young age that she would one day be a millionaire. She still believes this is true, but she hasn’t gotten there yet! In her Eventual Millionaire blog and podcast, Masters interviews businesspeople who have reached that milestone to learn their tactics and advice for growing personal wealth.

24. Unemployable Podcast

If you’ve found yourself drawn to the entrepreneurial life, if might be because you’re “unemployable,” like lawyer-turned-writer-turned-entrepreneur and founder of Copyblogger, Brian Clark. In his weekly podcast, Clark draws from his 18 years of experience to provide advice and encouragement for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to develop their personal businesses.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

5 Ways to Succeed in the Changing World of Sales

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I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Ryan Estis, who is the former chief strategy officer for the McCann Worldgroup advertising agency. Estis is now a wildly successful keynote speaker known for his unique ideas on improving sales effectiveness and preparing for the future of work.

We talked about a lot of different topics, but the one thing I was extremely fired up to share with all of you was our discussion about how professional sales is changing. Forrester predicts that one million B2B sales jobs will disappear by 2020.

Being a former professional athlete, I’ve found that one of the main reasons why the category of sales was always so intriguing to me was its competitive nature.

The professional world of selling is more competitive than ever and it’s only going to become more so. Estis had this to say about the evolving world of sales: “The first ones to go will be the salespeople who can’t differentiate themselves — who can’t make themselves part of the value proposition.”

He continued, “In 2020, the most successful salespeople will be the teachers. The ones who can help clients think differently about the future of their business.”

Succeeding in sales in 2020 is going to require a whole new level of skill set, discipline and preparation.

Here are Ryan Estis’ five ways to succeed in sales in 2020.

1. Prepare like a champion.

In order to be great in anything you absolutely must do your homework. It’s amazing that so many salespeople still to this day don’t prepare and do their homework. Estis said, “I get four or five cold sales emails a day. Rarely does the seller take the time to properly research my company.

“If a seller researched me, determined I was a good fit for their solution or service and reached out in a way that focused on me and my business challenges, you’d better believe I’d pause before hitting ‘Delete.'”

2. Look for customization and personalization.

You are missing out on an incredible opportunity if you choose not to personalize and customize for every client of yours. On the topic of the importance of customization and personalization, Estis said: “Do you believe deeply that you can help the customer? Prove it. Get specific.

“Tell prospects why they should care, and show up prepared for impact. Your ability to customize for every client is imperative. It’s what the customer expects today.”

3. Focus on being a teacher.

The best salespeople fully understand that teaching sells. “Teaching is a gateway into a credible relationship built on trust. Look for every opportunity to contribute value and provide expert guidance up front.” Estis said.

4. Better is what actually is better.

Automation makes it easy to blast out an email to 20,000 people on a list. Somebody’s got to respond, right? Wrong. As Estis said, “I cannot think of a faster way to take a relationship from neutral to negative than to consistently assault someone’s inbox with irrelevant information.

“Instead, slow down and make every interaction count. Every touchpoint with a potential customer is a chance to add value and advance the relationship.”

5. Always look to build a meaningful connection.

When you think of sales as a human connection rather than just another transaction, you are well on your way to differentiating yourself from the competition. Said Estis: “Sales isn’t just about the science. There’s a craft to professional selling. Look for ways to build a meaningful connection. That might mean closing the laptop and finding a way to talk to your clients and prospects, on the phone or in person.

“Can you differentiate and win on human connection? The best way I know how is to deliver a little bit more than the customer expects every single time. Be remarkable, consistently.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

5 Ways to Open and Nurture Your Imagination

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Your imagination is the key to creating your dreams and building your future. When you are creatively blocked, you are going to have a more difficult time being your best self at work or at anything you attempt to achieve. Too often, those of us who are ambitious and production-driven, will ignore creative pursuits because we think we don’t have time for them. You might be saying, “But I’m not a creative person. I’m a business person, so what does creativity and imagination have to do with anything?”

The answer is, “everything.”

Here are five ways to open your imagination, which will in turn, ignite that spark of creativity within you so you can create more with your business, as well as enhance your life.

1. Reading.

I’ve mentioned before that when I get up in the morning, I read something for at least 30 minutes. The reading offers fuel for my imagination and inspires me to think of new business ideas and marketing strategies. Even if you just pick up something and read for 10 or 15 minutes, you are “waking up” your brain and stimulating the thought process. Make this a daily habit. You can also do this in the evening before you go to sleep. Reading can transform not only how you see yourself, but also how you see the world.

2. Writing. 

I am a big proponent of journaling. I carry a Moleskin leather journal with me everywhere I go and I jot down thoughts, ideas and feelings into this journal. I love to go to cafés or bookstores and just sit and journal. I cannot begin to tell you how this creative exercise opens up my imagination to new ideas for work, solution to current roadblocks and life, in general. Many people like to journal first thing in the morning — either in their own handwriting like I do in my Moleskin journal, or on their smart phone, or tablet. The idea is to spend quiet moments with yourself and write out your thoughts. If you do it in the morning, it will clear the air, give you an opportunity to write out your frustrations and start the day fresh. Words are powerful, after all, and this action can influence important change in your life.

3. Movies. 

This might sound like a self-indulgent activity, but it can be more than that. Seeing a movie can be productive, inspiring, motivating and creative. When you go to see a movie — and I enjoy seeing them by myself — it opens up your mind and imagination to possibilities. The sounds, colors, action, stories and characters, are all potential motivators to remind you of something you can do to enhance your business and life. So, while seeing movies is entertainment, it is also a great way to open your creativity and imagination.

4. Art.

We are not all Picassos, but if we enjoy art in any form, then don’t neglect it. I have friends who are traditional artists, but tell me they never have time to paint anymore. That doesn’t sound logical to me. If art restores your soul, if art nurtures your imagination and creativity, then why aren’t you doing it? You can surely find 10 to 15 minutes a day to devote to something you love. When painting a picture or any other type of artistic craft that you enjoy, you are tuning into your inner self and tapping into a creative well that will nurture and inspire you. That will help to inspire you further in your work. Maybe your “art” is decorating a room in your apartment or house. Then, do it. Maybe your “art” is body-building or gymnastics. Maybe it’s dance. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s gardening. There’s a true art form to activities that people don’t often recognize. “Art” is more than just painting a picture. It is anything that’s creative. Strengthening your creative muscles will help you tune into your inner wisdom and will open your imagination to all kinds of possibilities.

5. Daydreaming. 

Finally, I want to emphasize that daydreaming can be an important tool to opening your imagination and creativity. Sure, I imagine we all remember when we were in elementary school and teachers told us to stop daydreaming and get to work. When you daydream, you take yourself out of the ordinary moment and open yourself to possibilities. Naturally, you don’t want to live your whole day in a daydream world, but taking moments to relax and “daydream” are small exercises that can open your imagination to new ideas and dreams. And those new ideas and dreams can help you thrive in business and in life. And isn’t that what we all want? So, start daydreaming today and enjoy those little moments of creativity. Everything starts with a dream, even a “daydream.”

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

3 Ways to Remain Calm and Execute When Starting a Business

Image credit: Photo by Darryl Leniuk — Getty Images

Although it can certainly bring extraordinary excitement and fulfillment, there is nothing easy about starting a business. Launching a new business or even a new division within an existing business can be chaotic. There will be plenty of ups and downs, twists and turns, and wins and losses. Building a successful business has very much to do with how you respond when you get knocked down.

Below are three critical steps that can help you remain calm and execute your vision fully when the going gets tough.

1. Surround yourself with those who are already doing what you want to do.

When I first started writing and speaking, I knew absolutely nothing about how to go about turning it into an actual business. The first thing that I did was email and reach out to those who were already doing it, asking them how I might be able to help with whatever their most important project was. Some would respond and some wouldn’t, but every single day I put in the effort. I offered value in whatever way I could in the beginning, and over time, that transpired into a solid mentoring relationship. When you really care about what it is you do and eager to learn more, you would be surprised at how many highly successful people want to help.

2. Be obsessed with your vision.

Creating a blueprint of possibilities is the new “business plan.” No great entrepreneur has succeeded without developing an obsessive mentality surrounding the value of their product or overall vision of what they wanted to do. Coupling a steadfast dedication to your vision and value with an attitude of adaptability helps business owners and entrepreneurs to gain unbelievable momentum. And Big Mo as I like to call it—momentum—equals success.

3. Learn to love failure.

Failure yields opportunity. Entrepreneurs fail because when obstacles hit, they surrender to the negativity and attach their identity to this feeling of frustration. That’s not productive. All great entrepreneurs accept roadblocks as incredible opportunities to pinpoint areas of growth and get better. By learning to detach from the negativity and dig into the reasons these obstacles have arisen, entrepreneurs can narrow in on the aspects of their business that require extra attention or adaptability. Behind every failure and setback is a fundamental key to your business growth.

Originally Posted on Fortune.com

What You Need to Do Next Time You Stumble

Image credit: Thomas Barwick — Getty Images

As entrepreneurs, business owners, and leaders, we repeatedly find ourselves faced with failure and adversity; it comes with the territory. Unfortunately, too many of us fail to recognize its rewards. We go through it instead of grow through it.

In her bestselling book Mindset, psychologist Carol Dweck breaks down what separates the high achievers from everyone else. One of the main differentiators is in how they view failure. Successful types are able to look at stumbling blocks and learn from it. Others — or to use her language, those with a “fixed mindset” — fail to look for ways to grow and ultimately hate to be challenged.

As a leader, you’ve (quite admirably) increased your chances of failing miserably. Sometimes you’ll see it coming; sometimes you won’t. In the words of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”

That’s why consistently training yourself to deal with failure is important. It’s called creating a growth plan and there is no right or wrong way to do it. My growth plan consists of looking at my goals each and every day to remind me of what I am working towards, reading uplifting books first thing in the morning, listening to audiobooks in the car or on flights and having a group of similarly ambitious people who share the same hunger to make a difference and achieve big goals.

Also remember to ask yourself this simple question: “How can I grow through this setback?” It’s not an easy thing to do, especially after having been knocked down, but it’s the first and most important step to carving a path to the future. Before letting your mind race and drawing conclusions about what’s going to happen next, take the time to ask it.

Your future self will thank you.

Originally Posted on Fortune.com

We Are All Salespeople. Use These 3 Techniques to Become a Better One.

20150422204402-handshake-business-partnershipImage credit: Shutterstock

You may not have the title of a salesperson, but it’s imperative that you polish up on your skills and become a better communicator to win in business and in life. Whether you run your own company or currently employed by one, there is a good chance that at some point throughout the day you are spending time doing sales related work. All of us, regardless of job title or influence, do some type of sales on almost a daily basis.

Parents spend a significant time trying to sell their children on to make their bed, do the chores and study for the upcoming test. A startup entrepreneur spends a significant time trying to sell their idea and newly founded organization to investors and other key players that can help them to advance the process of growth.

A CEO or leader of a big organization is constantly spending a significant time trying to sell the company’s vision to employees. An employee who works for a company is spending a significant amount of time trying to sell their skill set so they can land a promotion and move up the corporate ladder.

Sales is the oxygen to your business growth and success. Without it, there will eventually be no business. It’s impossible to grow anything without sales.

 

Here are three ways to become a more polished salesperson.

1. Always lead with questions.

Some of the best communicators that I have ever come across would always lead with questions. I have written a lot about the importance of questions, and it also certainly applies to becoming a better communicator and salesperson as well.

In your next sales meeting or interaction with someone, try to lead the conversation with great questions. Do your research and come prepared with great questions ready to be asked.

When you ask good questions, you are doing two things that will help you in the long run. Number one, you display a sense of humility that will always serve you in a positive way. Number two, you will start to receive key answers that you would normally not have been able to find out. There is nothing more powerful on both sides when great questions are asked. Lead with questions during every interaction from here on out.

2. Change your perception about sales. 

I can’t tell you how many people I have encountered that had nothing good to say about sales. They couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do such a thing, or that being in sales meant that you couldn’t find a job anywhere else.

To succeed in sales, you must first change your perception about sales. Instead of looking at it as a negative, start viewing it in a totally different light. Sales is all about serving and helping others get to where they want to go. In sales, you only succeed when you help others succeed.

It’s quite difficult to succeed in sales and successfully sell your product or service if you keep telling yourself how much you hate sales and never try to change your negative perception of what sales really stands for.

 

3. Be obsessed about being a master at solving problems.

This one can be a total game-changer. Become obsessed about solving problems and providing real value in the marketplace that makes you different and unique from everyone else. The most successful salespeople don’t look at it as a sale, they look at it as an opportunity to solve a problem. They are completely obsessed about becoming a master at solving problems.

Look for ways to double the value you are bringing forth into the marketplace and to your prospects, and then direct all of your time and energy towards solving real problems. When you start to solve problems and become known by being a problem solver before someone labels you a salesperson, your business and life will transform.

Becoming a more polished salesperson and working on your communication skills will help you a whole lot more than just succeeding in business. Even though you may not have the title of a salesperson, we are all in sales to an extent.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

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

20150311050615-shutterstock-139780882 (1)Image credit: Shutterstock

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

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