Gamblers Who Don’t Gamble

 
Entrepreneurs are gamblers who don’t gamble and risk takers who aren’t risky.

Sparked by curiosity, entrepreneurs explore farther and wider than most people but they aren’t reckless (at least not the successful ones).

RouletteNothing happens without ideas, and curiosity is what leads to the best ideas. You have to go through a lot of ideas before you find that magical one that both excites you and works. That search can sometimes take a lifetime and the search is what many people don’t understand about entrepreneurs. In my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk he said he has ideas “24/7.” But he doesn’t blindly follow all of them or most of them or even some of them. He said that if the idea sticks around for a while, just won’t leave his mind, then he’ll follow it.

Which takes me to the idea of risk. Acting on any new idea has risk associated with it but there is a difference between being risky and taking a risk. Being risky is doing something without much thought or planning. Taking a risk is researching, learning as much as you can, turning the unknown into the known so that surprises are minimal, and then going for it. One approach is dangerous the other is smart.

A lot of people confuse this penchant for risk as gambling but gambling is a loser’s game, gambling is a game of chance and successful entrepreneurs work hard to reduce chance. You can’t eliminate chance but there comes a tipping point when risk has been reduced to the point that action makes sense. This is why I put the following quote in my book: “I have always found that if I move with seventy five per cent or more of the facts that I usually never regret it. It’s the guys who wait to have everything perfect that drive you crazy.” That was Lee Iococca, the former CEO of Chrysler and that is the difference between someone who sees entrepreneurship as risky, as gambling, and someone who understands risk and works to make it less risky.

The person who has to wait until all risk is eliminated will never be an entrepreneur, and the person who rushes in without thought or preparation won’t be successful, but the balance between these two extremes puts the odds in your favor. It’s why I ask What Next and why I work hard to answer that with facts.


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Yes, Elon Musk is Crazy

 
SpaceX_logo2I read an article recently that said Elon Musk asked his biographer, Ashlee Vance, if he thinks he, Musk, is insane.

My answer, if Elon Musk asked me, would be yes. I think Elon Musk is insane, just as I think Ted Turner was insane, and Richard Branson was insane.

I don’t mean that in a negative way. I don’t think they need to be committed. I use insane in a positive, you-have-to-be-crazy-to-do-what-you-did, kind of way. As I lay out in my book What Next, you don’t go from a billboard advertising company to pioneering 24 hour cable news with CNN, as Ted Turner did, unless you’re a little crazy. You also don’t do that in a straight line. It takes twists and turns as you find the right path and go around or over obstacles.

Entrepreneurs hear that word, crazy, a lot. Imagine you said to friends or family that you were going to start a rocket company. Even if you had hundreds of millions of dollars, I think you would be called crazy. No, I know you would be called crazy because that’s exactly what Elon Musk’s friends called him.

But did you miss the big revelation in his story? Elon Musk had no expectation of making money at this venture. It was his passion and belief in something bigger that compelled him. In my previous post about this video called Crap Filter, Elon says that you have to be compelled to start a company or be the boss because it’s not easy. What is compelling you to do the things you do, and are you responding or pushing it off for later?

I think a lot of people confuse the word crazy with confident and compelled. Elon Musk is not crazy in the sense that we think of it, he’s just crazy enough to confidently follow through on what compels him.


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Million Dollar Lunch

 
Warren BuffettIf you had the chance to have lunch with Warren Buffet, would you? If you had the chance to ask, one on one, Richard Branson for advice, would you?

I think the answer to both of those questions is a resounding yes! I would too, but would you pay a million dollars, or in the case of Warren Buffet’s latest charity auction, 2.3 million for lunch?

Even if I could afford it my answer would be no. From my perspective the fabulously wealthy offer little value. Sure, their success sets the bar high but I’m more interested in people who have done a lot with relatively little, the people whose advice can actually lead somewhere.

I’d rather have lunch with the man or woman who opened a local restaurant and now owns several throughout the state. I’d rather meet and talk to the person who created something that a lot of people use. Maybe they didn’t make billions but they did fill a need and did well doing so.

These are people I have access to, or more access than I do to Richard Branson or Warren Buffet.

By looking for lessons and advice from these entrepreneurial rock stars you might be overlooking the valuable advice that’s sitting next to you at the barber shop or on the subway.

Many people don’t listen enough, aren’t curious enough to ask questions, to discover the wisdom that’s right under their nose.

 


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Entrepreneur Cheerleaders

 
EasyReally this is about entrepreneur cheerleaders and success cheerleaders, people who sell hope and, this is the important part, make it sound easy. I’m a realist and nothing worth getting is easy. It might be enjoyable but it’s not easy. These cheerleaders remind me of the Geico commercial with Pinocchio as a motivational speaker, as he points to people he says have potential, his nose grows. Not everyone is going to be a wild success, not everyone can run a successful business. If a cheerleader like Anthony Robbins was Pinocchio his nose could hurt someone.

I’m not saying that having confidence is a bad thing or that being positive is a waste of time, I’m not telling you success isn’t worth working toward. I’m an advocate for curiosity, for adventure, for pushing yourself to your limits in order to discover what you’re good at, to find what excites you. Do all of those things but understand what you’re getting into, what you’ll likely face. I saw a tweet yesterday that is appropriate here:

DefyOdds

Successful people are very good at managing risk, at understanding the odds and finding ways to tilt the odds in their favor.

You might think you’re good at that too and that’s where self-awareness comes into play. The cheerleaders out there will tell you you’re great, that everything will work out if you just believe but that’s not necessarily true. Belief only gets you so far.

This is why I’m a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, he puts a lot of value on self awareness, he’s not a cheerleader in the sense that he’s honest with himself and has no problem being honest with his advice.

Listen to the cheerleaders for inspiration, get fired up, but then get real. Look at your What Next from every angle and anticipate as many problems from the start. Be an optimist in the dream phase and a pessimist in the implementation phase.


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Side Hustle

 
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-hand-displaying-spread-cash-us-one-hundred-dollar-bills-image42507251Make Money Blogging!

Work from Home just Hours a Day!

Turn Your Hobby into Profits!

This all sounds easy and could fit into the definition of what so many entrepreneur cheerleaders call a side hustle. A lot of people post on social media about their side hustles, and Gary Vaynerchuk is a big proponent of hustle in general. The reality, however, is that what many think is a side hustle is really just a time, energy, and money suck.

A side hustle is a way to earn extra money on the side. If you aren’t smart about it and think it will be easy then you will probably fail.

Side hustle isn’t a get rich quick scheme – just ask people who thought flipping houses in the mid 2000s would be easy money.

Most of my side hustles didn’t work out but the difference is that it didn’t cost me much either.

In the appendix of What Next I have a trail map of my career and entrepreneurial side hustles – some are dead ends, some go on for a while, and some have made me lots of money. The point is that I didn’t put all my effort into one thing and I didn’t stop looking for a next hustle. Maybe most important, I was willing to walk away from ones I grew tired of or were becoming a drain rather than an addition to my income, time, or energy.

It’s great to have the motivation to pursue a side hustle but you also have the common sense to know when something is just a pyramid scheme or when an investment could end up costing you more than it makes you. The emphasis should be on the word hustle because these things take work, hard work, and too many people think it will be easy.


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Find the Truth

 
Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.The title of this was going to be a bit longer so here it is: Find the Truth in Lies, Untruths, and Exaggerations.

I’ve always had a basic understanding of this but lately I’ve taken this more seriously and have been putting it into action. It all began with a new hire gone bad.

I was hiring a new employee and my manager had conducted the interview. My wife and business partner conducted a second interview and we offered her the position. She accepted but had some concerns about some details which we thought we had resolved. The day she was to begin work, she said she could not abide by the conditions and quit, leaving us to scramble to fill her appointments. I felt this was very unprofessional.

I called to find out what happened and was accused of handling the situation poorly and to my shock  she called me unprofessional. The tables were turned and that made me mad. She had beaten me to it, calling me unprofessional before I could call her that!

After the phone call ended I began to think and saw some truth to her statement. I could have handled things better. We can improve our hiring process. We can communicate better. Was I unprofessional? No, but there was truth in her exaggeration. In spite of her unprofessionalism, there was some truth to her accusation.

That’s when the A-Ha moment occurred. No matter how wrong a person is about you or your actions there is always some truth to be found. By looking at it that way everything, every interaction is a learning experience. Now when someone accuses me of something or criticizes me, I let myself get angry and upset, but then I step back and find the truth. It’s a liberating experience.

Are you willing to find truth through the lies, untruths, and exaggerations in your life?


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The Right Answers

 
We all have the right answers but do we have the right actions to use those answers?

I spoke at a Youth Leadership Summit last week and in my presentation I held up very successful people as examples and asked the attendees what traits led to these people’s wild success at various stages of their career.

The answers were all correct with terms like perseverance, creativity, passion, and motivation. I added a few such as curiosity, flexibility and a sense of adventure.

GarfieldLazyThe point is that we all know what it takes for others to achieve big things but we’re often afraid to do those things ourselves. Worse than being afraid we’re often lazy.

I don’t mean lazy like we sit on a couch watching TV, eating chips rather than working (everyone at the summit had a career and took the additional step of attending the summit). I mean lazy in comparison to the examples I held out, people like Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Gary Vaynerchuk and many more who have enough energy and drive to keep them moving toward success.

I don’t have nearly as much energy as the previous examples and yet I work a full time job (which I have progressed in over the years), own rental properties, own and operate a retail service business, write books, and blog. I want to do more but I have to work my way up to it. Just as running a marathon takes conditioning, so too does the marathon of success take conditioning. How many of us are willing to do the work to build that base of conditioning?


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Dumb Quotes

 
Today I’m starting a new series on the blog called Dumb Quotes. I have plenty of quotes, mostly pulled from my book, What Next, and some might just be dumb. Someone will read a quote of mine and think it’s brilliant (I hope) and someone else will think it’s ridiculous. Of course I’ll be using other people’s quotes in this series because I’m confident that mine are just fine the way they are.

This series will point out quotes I think are ridiculous. The sentiment might be worthy but the quote itself is just plain silly. Today I’m starting with one that you would probably think I like a lot because it references a topic I’m fond of, hiking. I talk a lot about paths and obstacles, about the importance of creating your own path and understanding that obstacles are not to be feared but are a natural part of every path.

BlockedPathMy dumb quote of the day (or week, or month, depending on how often I write these) is “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” by Frank A. Clark. First of all I have no idea who Frank A. Clark is and I have nothing against him personally but I have seen this quote a few times on Twitter so why not start here?

What’s wrong with this quote? Well if it’s a path then by definition it leads somewhere. I’ve hiked many a trail without any obstacles and I’ve gotten somewhere.

I get it though, I do. If the journey isn’t difficult the destination probably wasn’t really worth it. Struggle is a part of life and we need to recognize that those struggles make the goal so much sweeter. The other thing about this quote is that obstacles aren’t the only thing that build character. The trail itself could be wide, flat, and straight – in other words easy, or it can be narrow, steep, and full of switchbacks – a real struggle. There might not be any obstacles whatsoever but it can be the most difficult path you’ve ever been on.

Do you have some dumb quotes that you find more annoying than helpful? Post comments below to add yours or tweet me @askwhatnext and use hashtag #dumbquotes.

 

 


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Gary Vaynerchuk Knows Himself Well

 
It’s no secret that I believe strongly that curiosity is essential for success. If you read this blog or read my book, you’ll find curiosity hailed throughout. You will also find that I speak of other traits that amplify curiosity and lift ordinary success to higher levels. Those traits are a sense of adventure, willingness to try things, a healthy understanding of risk, and self-confidence, to name the ones I think are most important.

Gary_1In my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk he added one trait to this list that is often needed to balance out the others, that trait is self-awareness. You have to be a good judge of your own strengths and weaknesses and that requires self reflection. Listen to the conversation about self-awareness here:

 Vaynerchuk SelfAwareness

In my book, What Next, I interviewed an entrepreneur, Scott Loughmiller, who, when I thanked him for answering the questions so thoroughly said, “That’s ok I like this self-reflective kind of stuff.” That’s why he’s successful, because he is able to take stock of his own abilities and concentrate on the things he’s good at while hiring the people to do the things he’s not.

Loughmiller was trained as a programmer, a coder, but he doesn’t code much any more because he has the bigger picture to worry about. He knows there are people who are better at coding and can devote all their energy to it so that he doesn’t have to spread himself too thin and micromanage the project.

Gary said something that I suppose would sound ridiculous to a normal person. He said there was a time that he thought he should win an Emmy, Tony, Grammy, and Academy Award, really believed that he had it in him to do it. That made sense to me because I’ve had those grandiose ideas myself (In What Next I call them delusions of grandeur). It was self-awareness that brought Gary back to reality.

Do you take the time to think about your strengths and weaknesses? Do you understand yourself more than anyone else? If not, why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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Gary Vaynerchuk and the Escalator Question

 
EscalatorPicWhen I found out I was interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk I had an opportunity to test a theory of mine. I believe that successful people, entrepreneurs in particular, like motion, would rather keep moving than stand still. They also don’t like other people getting in their way, blocking them from their goals.

I think successful people walk on escalators rather than stand. Gary confirmed that, sort of, but he also surprised me. Take a listen here:

Vaynerchuk EscalatorQuestion

It seems his default strategy is to walk on escalators but the surprising part was when he said that he stands when he’s late. That seemed odd to him (I think a lot of people would think it’s odd that he even gave it much thought, have you?). His belief is that he likes to be contrarian and I suggested that maybe, when he’s late, he needs that extra moment to collect himself, take a deep breath and know that those extra few seconds walking aren’t as important as those extra few seconds of calm.

The last point about the question is a bit less obvious but interesting and informative just the same; who thinks about how they interact with escalators? I don’t think normal people give that much thought. Gary and I do, however, and that says a lot about two traits we spoke of in the interview, curiosity and self-awareness.

Being curious means you look at things a little differently than other people, that what most people take for granted, you dissect to discover why. Being self aware means you are always assessing your actions, beliefs, and values, being just as curious about yourself as you are about others.

Do you walk on escalators? Do you prefer motion over stagnation? Are you self aware enough to answer those questions? Are you curious enough to discover your true habits? Please share in the comments below.


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