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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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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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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Is Gary Vaynerchuk a Risk Taker?

 
After a short break I’m back to my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk. There was one question I asked Gary that I wish I had followed up on more extensively, explained a little better and really discussed. With limited time, however, I chose to move on.

Warning! Risk AheadI asked Gary if he felt there was a difference between taking a risk and doing something risky. He didn’t see the distinction. It is subtle but it’s there. At just under 90 seconds this is the shortest clip from the interview but perhaps my favorite topic. Take a listen here:

Vaynerchuk Risk

Gary notes that he thinks someone who takes risks is dramatically happier but goes on to say that he doesn’t consider himself a risk taker. I have found that many highly successful people who other people describe as risk takers or gamblers disagree with that characterization.

In my book, What Next, I talk about risk and what I discovered is that the distinction between taking a risk and doing something risky comes down to management. Scott Loughmiller, an entrepreneur I interviewed for the book, said he doesn’t consider himself a risk taker but rather a risk manager.

When we look at the decisions of the highly successful we only see two points in time. The decision to act and the end result. What we don’t see from our perspective is the thought process, the many sub-decisions, the careful deliberations and strategizing that goes into what seems like a risky endeavor.

And that brings us to the difference between success and failure when it comes to risk. So many people don’t take the time for careful deliberation. So many people rush into really big decisions ill-prepared. That is doing something risky. On a personal level you need look no further than retirement planning. So many people put that on autopilot without enough thought.

When it comes to business, too many people put too much weight on the advice to follow their heart. That’s good advice but it must be backed up by resources, planning, and a strong dose of reality. Doing the research, exploring the many possible outcomes before acting is taking a risk but it’s not being risky and that is a huge difference.

Are you a risk taker or do you do risky things? Share some examples and your thoughts in the comments below.


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The Best Investment You Can Make is in Yourself

 
I’m taking a break today from the Gary Vaynerchuk interview to…to what? I don’t want to complain but I’m afraid that is how it will sound. I don’t want to sound like an old man who thinks this generation is lacking what previous generations had but after reading this, you might think that’s what I’m doing. I don’t want to put my leadership skills (or lack of skills) out there for everyone to see but I have to be honest with myself and I’m choosing to do so publicly.

leader-mdI choose kindness over harshness. I choose conversation over orders. I choose second and third chances over rash decisions. I give the benefit of doubt rather than expecting the worst. All of these seem to be backfiring.

I understand the feeling that a job is just a job. I understand having a job you don’t love, I have one now that I don’t even like. I get wanting to do the bare minimum when there is no motivation or incentive to do more. I get all that, but I’m at the end of my career (yes I’m young but I’m at the end of one career, not my working life).

When I was at the beginning of my career the concept of work hours was foreign to me. I stayed and worked and improved my skills because I wanted to, because I was curious, because I knew that some day I’d advance and grow to higher levels. I did this without overtime pay and when overtime was available, I often wouldn’t put in for it because I wasn’t working, I was learning.

What I see of my staff is that, so early in their working lives, they’ve already checked out. I don’t see the curiosity and interest in honing their skills, learning new things, going beyond (or even living up to) their job description. The sales associates want to be managers, and the manager wants to be the general manager but none are excelling (or are even adequate) at their current position.

My pep talks haven’t worked. My pep talks with a dose of reality haven’t worked. My honest assessments with consequences behind them haven’t worked. I know business people have to fire staff and I’ve had to as well, but when you see potential in a person in spite of their lack of effort it makes the process that much harder.

I can’t help but think that a young Gary Vaynerchuk did well because he is someone who is invested in himself. I am someone who invests in myself. I don’t see my staff investing in themselves – they’re just picking up a paycheck.

Do you see the same of your staff, of the employees you deal with at a store or on the phone? What do you do to get them to see that investing in themselves pays the best dividends?


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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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Things I Wished I Asked Gary Vaynerchuk

 
the-thinker

Note: The first installment mentioned below is now live. Gary Vaynerchuk and the Escalator Question.

Part 2 is now live: Gary Vaynerchuk Knows Himself Well

Part 3 is now live: Is Gary Vaynerchuk a Risk Taker?

Starting tomorrow (Monday April 1, 2013) I’m going to break down my interview with Gary Vaynerchuk into bite sized portions, talking about what I agree with, disagree with, and how my thinking has changed. But today I’m going to look back and lament the fact that I didn’t have an hour with Gary, that I wasn’t fast enough on my feet to ask him these questions.

What does it take to change your mind?

Gary is, as he stated in my interview, self-aware. He is also a very confident person, so what does it take for him to change his mind? I change my mind a lot but I’m guided by core values that bring me back to my true self.

How do you deal with doubt?

I asked about failure and it was the only time in the interview that I felt he was annoyed by me, by my questions. Failure is not something that Gary Vaynerchuk ruminates about and yet we all experience it and we all experience doubt. How does someone I revere, someone who has been so successful, handle doubt?

I asked Gary what he hoped people who listen to my interview, and the other interviews he does, will get out of them and he said that wasn’t something he thought about. But why does he write the books, why does he make the motivational videos, why does he talk about success, winning, and entrepreneurship, if not to get people to be more proactive and successful?

What is your response to these questions and what do you think Gary’s would be? Ask him on Twitter or Facebook and let’s see if he answers. I think he will.


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Insights on Success with Gary Vaynerchuk

 

NOTE: Starting Monday April 1, I’ll break down the interview into smaller chunks but first check out questions I wish I asked.

Monday April 1: The Escalator Question

Tuesday April 2: Gary Vaynerchuk Knows Himself Well

Friday April 5: Is Gary Vaynerchuk a Risk Taker?

Wednesday April 10: Balancing Ideas and Execution

 

You never know the outcome of a decision when you make it. You may have hopes or plans but the outcome can’t be known with certainty. That’s why successful people are flexible and do more things, try more things, and take more risks than average.

I have made many attempts (some successful and some not) at meeting certain people, at getting noticed. If an opportunity arises I’ll see what happens and that’s exactly what I did when I saw this tweet from Gary Vaynerchuk:

GaryV_IntvADay

There was nothing explicit about that tweet, but I clicked the link because I’m curious, and learned that I could sign up to interview Gary, someone I believe is a What Next kind of guy. Gary took his father’s liquor store and turned it into a 60 million dollar wine retailer called Wine Library. Gary wasn’t satisfied to build only that business, however, and has taken many more paths as an author(Crush It, The Thank You Economy, and his latest to be released in October, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook), new media entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. He is someone I’ve wanted to meet and talk with for some time. A lot of people want the same thing so when I tried to register for my 15 minutes to interview him, I was told he was already booked.

Gary_1

I didn’t give up and learned that he still had a couple of spots available but that I’d have to wait until October. I was fine with that. That’s why I was so shocked to get a phone call from his PR rep asking me if I was available to talk to Gary the very next day, Thursday.

My answer, of course, was yes and the interview can be heard below. In the following days I’ll break the interview down to smaller chunks and have more specific posts about the topics we covered. Until then enjoy the whole interview.

Vaynerchuk Intv3


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