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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Recapping 2012 Part 2 of ???

 
Looking BackThe second installment of my look back at my 2012 blog posts features a common theme for me, hiking. Hiking is a great metaphor for life as the journey is often more important than the destination. Another category this post deals with is leadership. We all vary from follower to leader and back again depending on the situation.

This post also features Adam (@ajm5338 on twitter), the person I mention in the post below, who has indeed taken the steps necessary to reach the goal we spoke about at the event I attended early in 2012. I hope that Adam has a moment to stop by and fill us in on his progress.

Be The Trail Guide

Whether you are beginning your working life or are looking for a change, you have more choices than you realize. Choice is not an either-or proposition, however. You can decide to go to work for an established company, a big corporation, or you could set your own path, be your own boss. You could also do both if you want to.

Not too long ago I went to an event at a bar in NY organized by Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com. The event was a mixer (of course) where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs got a chance to talk and share ideas. I met a guy who just recently (six months ago) joined the workforce after graduating college. The thing that was interesting, though, is that he was already anxious for more. He was looking for his what next. The experience he was getting was valuable but he wanted to create something. There is no reason he can’t do both, continue getting great experience while creating something new.

Being at the event was a step in the right direction but to be an entrepreneur, he also needs to be a leader. He needs to be able to get others to follow him, to believe in his mission as much or more than he does himself.

Entering a palm oasis

Leading the way.

He is like a hiker setting off on a trail others have been down before. Anyone can be a hiker but a leader is a trail guide who knows their way. In this case, only the entrepreneur with the idea, the sense of direction, can lead their team of hikers.

Is it enough to simply declare yourself a leader, the trail guide? No. You have to demonstrate why you should lead, you have to give as much as you get. The authority is not yours to claim but is earned as your enthusiasm and belief in the project lights the fire of those you want to lead to success.

Now get out there and explore the trail so you can be an effective guide.

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Whatever Happens

 
Preparation isn’t just about a goal, isn’t a task that is only completed when you have something planned. Preparation is about weathering a storm and expecting the unexpected.

Be Prepared For AnythingIn What Next I write that “it’s not the plan for the expected outcome that saves you, it’s the plan for the unexpected outcome that does.” This is what preparation is all about and why I often have a plan B, C, D, E, and F.

I haven’t written many blog posts in a while because I’ve been busy working on my latest What Next venture, my current priority.

The reason I’m writing this is that two months of planning, two months of high expectations, may end badly. I will be sad, upset, worried, and yes even angry, if this falls through, but one thing I won’t be is beaten. I won’t be much worse off even if it goes terribly wrong because of the preparation I’ve done, not just for this one thing but throughout my life.

As you live your life, are the things you’re doing now putting you in a stronger position later? It’s worth asking so you’ll be able to succeed no matter what happens.


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Success is Not Linear

 
The phrase two steps forward, one step back epitomizes the difficult and sometimes random nature of success. Things can seem like they’re going well and suddenly a setback or obstacle comes out of nowhere and all the hard work to get where you are seems in jeopardy.

Scatter Chart 2If you’ve ever seen a scatter chart that is what success really looks like – some highs, some lows, and some direct hits scattered around a target or goal. As I embark on my latest What Next plan I’m seeing this in practice. Certain assumptions are being challenged or proven completely wrong while others are going as planned.

Sometimes one of the lows feels like you’ve taken two steps back but only one step forward. Get used to it because that is exactly what will happen. Remember, however, that there will be times that you also feel like you’ve taken five steps Scatter Chart Trend Lineforward and one step back. It’s the trend line that makes the difference. This same chart with a line running through the center shows that in spite of setbacks progress can and does continue.

It’s when the line begins to dip and there are more lows than there are highs that things need to change. Take setbacks in stride but keep a watch on the trend line.


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How Big is Your Yacht

I wanted to get to the boat show in Atlantic City as early as possible on Sunday to avoid the long lines I knew would form to board the largest yachts there. Everyone wants to see what it’s like on these yachts, to imagine what it would be like to own a million dollar plus yacht.

Standing at the helm

I’m standing on the top deck of a 48ft. yacht.

Shortly after the show opened there was a long line of people waiting to get on board two yachts. The line continued to grow throughout the day.

How many people in line could actually afford the 1 million dollar plus price tag? Not many, I’m sure. If they could afford it, if they were serious about making a purchase, they wouldn’t be waiting in line. I’m sure of that.

So why bother, why stand in line just to look at something that is so far out of reach that it is an impossibility? Because we all dream! It’s why people buy lottery tickets.

The yacht I’m standing on in motion. No I’m not on it in this picture.

In What Next I start a chapter called “Inspiration, Motivation, and Drive” with one possibility for why people who can’t afford a yacht go and look at it anyway. Seeing what could be if we were rich inspires us to work toward that goal, motivates us to work harder, and, maybe, provides the drive to keep going no matter what. At least that’s the theory.

In practice what I hear (and have often said) is, “It must be nice.”

Yes it must be, but that statement is defeatist. Why not say “This will be nice.” Why not, rather than lament that you’ll never have the yacht, devise a plan that will lead to a future with the yacht?

Not everyone is going to be as shallow as I’m sounding right now. It’s not always about the money. I’m using a yacht as a metaphor for anything you want, anything you desire. Rather than say “it would be nice” – work for it. Figure out a way to get there and start moving.

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say, “It sure would be nice if someone started a website where people could share updates throughout the day, post pictures, and connect with friends old and new.” He created Facebook.

What are you going to do to reach your goal and not just talk about the what ifs in life? What is your first step toward your future? How big will your yacht be?


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The Yardstick of Success

Yesterday’s post was on goals, the flexibility, the rigidity, the evolution and the choices we make regarding goals. Today I wonder about measuring success, deciding whether you met, exceeded, or fell short of your goal. 

When it comes to my job one factor I can use to measure success is salary. When I first graduated college and began working, I made $19,000 and I thought I had really made it. I could afford to purchase the one thing I wanted more than anything – a Jetski. Looking back I had no idea what success could be. Now I know better and no matter how much I’ve increased my salary I know it is still small when compared to some people. But does that diminish my success?

The answer to that question depends on the measurement, the scale I use. If we all compare ourselves to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett then we all fail. For me, at this time and in this place, I am successful as far as my career goes. But what about other things, things at which I’m a novice like I was when I got my first job?

When it comes to my book, the sales of my book, my scale is not large. I measure sales in tiny increments. I push forward however because I want to succeed, not because I have to but because I want to. I’m reminded of someone who answered a question for me as I was writing What Next. Jorge responded to a question about success on LinkedIn and said “The harder the goal, the greater the measure of success.” Selling the book is a difficult goal but each sale, each positive comment, is worth more to me because of the struggle.

I’m reminded of someone else who had a similar sentiment as Jorge, President Kennedy. In a speech at Rice University in 1962 President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

What goal are you willing to accept because it is hard? What will serve to organize and measure the best of your energies and skills? What challenge are you unwilling to postpone? Will you win?


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