In Love with Failure

I get it, you can learn from every experience, even failure, but that’s no reason to want to fail. The self-help motivational speakers of the world seem to be enamored with failure (or in this case, rejection). The latest dumb quote comes from none other than Tony Robbins:

I’m not sure how his world works but rejection certainly does not get me any closer to an outcome other than failure.

I’ve talked about the benefits of failure, too, but I also understand the truth in failure, that something went wrong, that I wasn’t prepared or didn’t work hard enough. I’m glad I learned the lesson but sorry I didn’t see it coming, couldn’t avoid it. Tony Robbins’ supporters, however, eat this stuff up because it excuses their poor choices and gives them a free pass to say, “well, at least I’m closer to my outcome.” No, you’re not.

I’m a big advocate of staying positive in the face of a setback (though I’m not always able to) but I’ll also allow myself to be angry and upset at failure, it motivates me not to make the same mistakes again.

Failure or rejection is almost never the end of the world but its nothing to aspire to. I’d like to fix Mr. Robbins’ quote: “Learn from rejection so next time you’ll succeed and get closer to your final objective.”

So while Tony Robbins celebrates and legitimizes failure, I’ll do my best to avoid it. It’s worked well for me so far.

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My Two Happiest Days

I’m a boat owner and you know what they say about us; “The two happiest days for a boat owner are the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it.” I can certainly relate but for me, it’s not a boat, but a business, that provided me with the two happiest days of my life.

Always looking for What Next I convinced my wife, Julie, that 2012 was the right time to start a business. There had been many false starts in the past

First time opening the door on what would be our new spa.

but I was determined that this one was going to succeed. In June of 2012, full of optimism and excitement, we signed the franchise agreement for a spa. Fast forward nearly five years and we walked out of the spa for the last time also filled with optimism and excitement.

The intervening five years were often difficult, sometimes enjoyable and were marked with missed goals, slower than expected but not slow, growth,

Our final exit from the spa!

but also with profits, and progress. In the end we had built a business that provided additional income and had enough value that we could sell for a profit.

As I put the key in the door for the first time in October of 2012, I was thrilled to start a new adventure. After we had decided to sell and we took that last selfie as we walked to the car, we were just as thrilled to start another new adventure. That’s what asking What Next is all about, continued growth and reinvention. If you ask What Next, the end is never the conclusion.

The path leading away from that front door is just as overgrown and full of obstacles as the path through the front door was in 2012. I’m better prepared for some obstacles but there will be others that are unexpected and prove challenging. Success doesn’t make things any easier, as a matter of fact, success makes things harder; there is more to hold onto to, more to juggle and keep track of.

Of all the memories and experience I gained from that business it’s those two days that I look back on most fondly.


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Walking on Escalators = Success

I don’t know why this question came to me, but as I was preparing to interview Gary Vaynerchuk several years ago this question came to mind: Do you stand or walk on escalators?

As a daily train commuter to NY City I see lots of escalators and types of riders: the stand in the middle and block everyone behind you rider (hate them), the move to the right so others can pass rider (love them), the stand next to each other and block everyone so they can talk riders (truly inconsiderate), or the move to the right in front of your friend so others can still pass rider (other than the walker, this is the best type of escalator rider out there).

I was wondering if someone as driven as Vaynerchuk valued motion over stillness in aspects other than business. As I suspected, he walks on escalators but with an interesting quirk (see the post from our interview for what that is). In my mind, walking on escalators is leverage, you leverage the already moving stairs to reach your destination even faster. What I see, however, is that most people will stand in a line and wait for the escalator rather than take the empty stairs that are right next to, or just a little farther than, the escalator. Once on the escalator, those same people will just stand. These are not self-starters, they are not people who are driven to succeed.

People who walk on escalators are leveraging the motion of the stairs combined with their effort to get where they’re going faster. In my mind and the minds of other escalator walkers, motion leads to progress. These people will find leverage in other aspects of their lives, in business, in relationships, to have a better, more successful life.

It’s the same with traffic. If I knew I’d get to my destination at the same time, I’d rather drive miles out of my way than sit in traffic. It’s not that I’m getting there any faster, it’s just that I’m moving, I have a sense of progress (and sometimes I do arrive sooner).

The truth is that success is a choice and you’re either moving or you’re standing still. I’d rather keep moving than become stagnant. Escalator walkers of the world, Unite!

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I Speak, Therefore I’m an Expert

There are a lot of people who want to give you advice. Many will offer valuable insight but many others have no right to give you, or really anyone else, guidance. To twist a common phrase, they subscribe to the idea that “I speak, therefore I’m an expert.” It’s like the out of work whatever suddenly becomes a consultant to the industry they just left. They were probably let go from their previous job, but they’ll tell you they left to pursue other opportunities. They’ll regurgitate cliches such as “turn the impossible into the possible” or use what I call dumb quotes like “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

How many coaches, advisors, consultants, or experts are really just trying to invent a pedigree? If a business coach’s only business experience is coaching, then how can they help you navigate the intricacies of what it’s really like to negotiate a lease, manage cash flow in the early months of a new business, or later sell a business?

Taking a course in coaching or becoming a certified leadership guru means nothing unless their background and life experience give them insight that you can’t get out of a book.

Speaking of books, how many authors churn out e-books and don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t treat the reader with enough respect to actually proof read let alone get professional editing? A fellow self-published author and I once traded books. As I attempted to read their book I was shocked at the basic mistakes such as lists (three reasons for x) that stopped short at only two, with no mention of the third item. That is disrespectful to the reader and simply sloppy work.

This rant was prompted by an update I saw on an acquaintances profile saying they were part of some consulting group with a fancy, executive style name that I won’t mention out of respect. My only thought was: Really? Wouldn’t you need to have been part of the executive level if you’re going to advise them? Wouldn’t you have had to rise up a bit higher than middle management?

I’ve said it before, I’m a nobody. If you’re reading this you’re probably here by accident (I’m glad you found me though) but I’m a nobody with real accomplishments and real lessons that I can share, not just a story of someone I knew who had a friend who owned a business.

As I plan my what next, coaching is a possibility but it’s a decision I have to consider carefully because I’d hate to be lumped in with people who are only experts because they alone have deemed themselves experts. They are thought leaders without an original thought and very little leadership experience. Where did this phrase thought leader come from, anyway? I’d prefer a do leader. I’d rather a person does something than thinks about it.

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Confidence and Negativity Happy Together


I read one line of an article and was so annoyed I just had to write this post in response. The line read: “The most confident individuals are able to avoid negative self-talk…”

I am one of the most confident people I know and I’m also really good at negative self-talk. I am so hard on myself sometimes, I could make myself cry. OK, that might be an exaggeration but come on, who doesn’t doubt themselves, and occasionally beat themselves up?

Negativity is balance to an over-confident idealist who believes they can do anything. Through negative self-talk I can explore and understand my own deficiencies. I can come up with all the reasons I’ll fail and then I can convince myself I’m wrong. If I can’t convince myself that I’m wrong, then I’m probably right.

I would say that confident individuals don’t avoid negative self-talk, they use it to gain a better understanding of themselves, to become more self-aware. What confident people do is not let the negativity win. Avoiding negative self-talk completely, sounds a lot like delusion to me.

Not only do I not avoid negative thoughts, I also try to find the negative aspects of success. Sounds pretty pessimistic of me but what it does is help me understand how I could have been better. For example: I just sold a business. The business was profitable and successful in many ways but I know it could have been better. Instead of patting myself on the back, I’m looking for the areas where I didn’t do so well so that next time (I promised my wife there wouldn’t be a next time) I’ll be a much stronger businessman or, maybe, I can just offer better advice.

Where has that negative self-talk (I call it honest assessment) taken me? To the realization that I need to be a better evangelist, I need to communicate my excitement in a way that will excite others. There were times I was able to do that but I know I could have been better. Without the negativity I would blame all my failings on my employees. They share some of that blame but not all of it. The negative self-talk helped me realize my deficiency.

How do you handle negativity in general and negative self-talk specifically?

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If You Can’t Beat Them…

Well it’s official and Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. As the saying goes: if you can’t beat them join them.

  • I’m going to call myself a patriot but won’t care if a foreign country interferes with our election, won’t trust the CIA or FBI.
  • I’ll wave the flag but not believe in the necessity of government.
  • I’ll call myself a Christian but won’t give a second thought to the less fortunate.
  • I will believe in individual responsibility but blame everyone else for my problems.
  • I’ll hate big government and taxes but will cry foul if bridges and roads are falling apart and the police aren’t paid well enough.
  • I’ll call myself a capitalist but be incensed when a drug company raises their prices.
  • I’ll demand my rights but want to take rights from others.
  • I will demand respect but not give it.
  • I’ll value the second amendment but not the first.
  • I’ll make alegations and offer no proof.
  • I’ll decry some people’s conflicts of interest but ignore other’s.
  • I’ll blame environmentalists for over-regulation but complain when air is polluted and water isn’t safe to drink.
  • I’ll do all this because I’m smart, smarter than scientists, smarter than generals, smarter than Nobel laureates.


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The Sinking Boat

SinkingBoatWhen is a dream about a boat sinking a good thing? Well, it’s better that it was a dream rather than real but I still think the symbolism of this dream was positive.

I don’t often remember dreams but when I do there always seems to be a reason. Let me setup the situation with some background as to what was going on in my life.

The spa business my wife and I own has been doing well. The one problem we have is that we need to hire more people to keep up with the demand so that’s a good thing. One hire we needed was a manager and we had found a winner. Our new manager was excellent in every way and really put us at ease. Now we could concentrate on other issues and keep growing. Three weeks into her employment, however, she stopped showing up to work. We could not reach her in any way. She didn’t return phone calls, emails, or texts. We were at a loss.

That’s when I had this dream. In the dream every time I checked on my boat it had sunk but, being a dream, it would rise up again. I’d leave and when I would return it had sunk again. But it would rise again. The pattern continued, sink, rise, sink, rise. And that’s when I woke up.

So why do I think this is a positive thing? Because being an entrepreneur, owning a business, is like being a sinking boat that can rise again. Things go wrong, some things are beyond your control, but when things go wrong you have to rise up and deal with them, fix them, and keep moving. Our manager chose Valentine’s Weekend not to show up and my wife and I stepped in and worked. We did what we had to do and the business kept moving. We sank but were able to rise again. I’m sure something else will happen to make us feel as if we’re sinking but we do what it takes to stay afloat. Whatever the challenge, we keep focused on success.

Saturday could have been a disaster but we rose to the challenge and had a very good day.

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Dream Income

No I’m not going to show you how to have a dream income, instead I’m going to rail against those who make money doing nothing but selling you a dream.

SunsetDreamI don’t respect people who sell nothing but hope and dreams. These are the people who come up with inspirational quotes, who make you believe you can do anything, that all you need is the confidence and belief in yourself. They tout mystical and mythical things like The Secret and “laws” of attraction.

I’m thinking of people like Jim Rohn and Anthony (or is it Tony) Robbins, people whose product is inspiration and motivation. I know they have fans Anthony Robbinsand supporters but they don’t impress me. Jim Rohn was an “entrepreneur” who ran a direct sales organization (Nutri-Bio, whatever that is) that went out of business. (Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t be successful at that but then again I’m glad that I can’t sell people useless things they don’t need.)

Instead I’m impressed by people like Gary Vaynerchuk who is not short on inspiration and motivation but who doesn’t make those things his only source of income. On the contrary they are a small portion of his success. His speaking and books are his side hustle not his industry.

Similarly I wrote a book and have my own quotes like the one above and this one: “inspiration without action is just a good intention.” But I don’t want to sell you the dream of success, I want you to be motivated by the realization of my dreams as I am by the realization of Gary Vaynerchuk’s.

Gary_1Gary has great quotes but it’s his business success that I derive energy from. Whether it’s building Wine Library from a bricks and mortar liquor store to a large online retailer, or being an important part of social media with Vayner Media, Gary has built tangible success.

Too many people eat up the inspiration of these salesmen and feel great about themselves while they continue sitting on the sofa safe with their dream of success.

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Progress Vs. Perfection

twit1There are a couple of trends I’ve noticed among those I follow on twitter recently. The first is a belief that passive income is the path to success. That one isn’t wrong but it isn’t as easy as it sounds either. The other trend is the choice (maybe a false choice) between progress and perfection.
The Truth
It is true that if you wait until everything is known, until there is no risk and everything is perfect, you’ll never get started. Paralysis by analysis as it’s called. But that doesn’t mean you should settle. Strive for perfection while moving forward.
The Reality
In What Next I talk about the ability (metaphorically speaking) to hike or travel two or more paths at the same time. This is working a day job while pursuing a business idea you have, for example. Well the same is true with progress and perfection. Keep moving forward and when you fall short of perfection ask why and modify your course.
Simple Sells
The reason progress or perfection is presented as a choice or passive income is presented as the solution to success is that they’re simple. These choices let you off the hook. You don’t have to work hard because you have passive income – well that’s bull. It’s ok not to strive for perfection because at least you’re moving forward – also bull.
It may not be the simple solution you want, but the truth is, success is hard. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this and other similar posts. Don’t let yourself off so easily, dedicate yourself to doing the hard work and find true success.

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Building up

This is what I want:


And this is what I have:


And this is where I started:

Jetski 750SX

You don’t start at the top and work your way down. You don’t start with a yacht and end up with a Jestski. You start at the bottom – but the bottom for me is different than the bottom for you.

Richard Branson grew up wealthy so for him starting at the bottom was founding a magazine. John Paul DeJoria, founder of Paul Mitchell hair care and Patron tequila (love the coffee Patron), once lived in a car, bottom for him was really low.

It is incremental steps that build success and wealth, but like starting at the bottom the increments are larger or smaller depending on the person.

Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, grew that business incrementally. Begun in 1971 Schultz bought the company in 1987 and expanded outside the Seattle area for the first time that same year. The company didn’t go public until 1992 when it had just 140 locations compared to over 16,000 today. The incremental growth was slow in the beginning and picked up speed as time went on. Incremental growth speeds up with momentum. None of the successful people you know have coasted to the heights they’ve achieved. Success is an uphill climb and coasting doesn’t work up hill.

But what do the boats have to do with growing a business? Nothing really, but they are the end result of that success. I mean really, why work if it can’t buy fun? The boats represent how growing your business is tied to growing your own success. We grow our businesses, our savings, our net worth so that we can enjoy it. When I got my first job out of college I bought that Jetski and thought I had hit the big time. Over the years I upgraded and bought a boat and then another Jetski. I traded up for a bigger boat and now I’ve traded up once again for the boat you see in the middle.

I’ve taken small steps over the years which is how I’ve been able to grow in other areas such as net worth and investment portfolio. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the yacht in the first picture but I know I won’t get it by obsessing over it. I’ll get that boat by continuing to work hard, by growing my various What Next businesses, and by keeping focused on success. It’s the people who focus on the results of success rather than the work of success who end up with less than they started.

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