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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Walking on Escalators

Walking on escaltorsWhen you get on an escalator do you just stand there or do you walk? If people are preventing you from walking on the escalator do you get annoyed? If you answered yes to both questions, then I think you’re a What Next kind of person. You’re the kind of person who wants to keep moving, doesn’t like obstacles, and wants to get where you’re going quickly so you can move on to the next thing.

There are times when walking on the escalator isn’t a good idea, when you need the time to think, to regroup. I have to remind myself of that sometimes because sometimes I get where I’m going without knowing what I’m doing.

People blocking you from walking on the escalator are all the people we are forced to rely on in life and in business. I’m dealing with this now as I negotiate a lease for my latest What Next adventure. What I really feel like is that I’m walking up the down escalator, expending a lot of effort but not getting anywhere. There are delays from the landlord, the bank, the government, and the countless other people I have to deal with. Some of this is normal and some goes beyond what is acceptable, but I deal with it and continue walking.

On my daily commute into and out of New York, I see people run through the halls and nearly knock people over to get to their train only to stand in place as the escalator slowly takes them to the track. To me this shows a lack of follow through. These people rush to get somewhere but then expect it to be easy when they get there, it rarely is. That’s why you have to keep walking even when the escalator is taking you where you want to go.

Can you share any examples of times you walked on the escalator of life, when you were proactive and got where you were going at you speed and on your terms?

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Momentum Requires Endurance

Asking What Next is being aware – of opportunities, of your surroundings, yourself, of lessons in every day activities. I often talk about hiking and believe it’s a great metaphor for life and so is cycling. When I need to de-stress, a bike ride almost always does the trick. I call it mobile meditation. I’m not alone in that concept either as Tara points out in a recent tweetchat called #spiritchat (Sundays 9am ET hosted by Kumud Ajmani @AjmaniK).

WindWhen I’m on the bike I enjoy riding hills, the up and down is similar to our struggles through life with easy days and hard days. My least favorite aspect of a bike ride is when it’s windy. A headwind is like a perpetual hill but worse – your mind is telling you that it should be easy because the road is flat but it’s as hard as a steep hill.

There is no such thing as perpetual motion, you have to take action to keep rolling forward otherwise friction, from wind, the tires on the road, or hills, will slow you down and eventually stop your progress. This requires endurance.

Quite by accident, I kept Tara’s tweet about meditation in my favorites, but it’s a funny coincidence because she hosts a TweetChat of her own called #UBUsensations Tuesdays at 7pm ET and the most recent topic was endurance. Endurance fit so nicely with the ideas in this post I decided to include some  tweets from that chat.

Shelley defines endurance by tweeting:

Endurance Defined

When I’m on the bike riding into a head wind I appreciate the idea of endurance as I push through the difficulty and continue pumping my legs, knowing that this will eventually end or maybe turn into a tail wind. It’s what we all do with so many things in life, a job we’re unhappy with, a relationship that’s on the rocks, a new business we’ve started. Greg had an interesting take on endurance saying:

Endurance 2

Another coincidence is when Tara asked, “What similarities do you see between Entrepreneur/Leaders and Endurance Athletes?” This fit so nicely with my cycling analogy and Jennifer had a great response:

Endurance 3

Whether on a bike or in life you must keep moving to maintain momentum – there is no perpetual momentum without work. Do you have the endurance necessary? Of course you do, but you have believe it and carry on despite adversity. With a bit of patience and some stubbornness you can keep your eye on the prize and do whatever is necessary. Believe it – do it!


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What does coasting mean to you?

Girl describes coasting as “Being in a point of total relaxation, when everything seems to be going your way.” Be careful of the word – seems. Using “seems” indicates only the appearance or the impression that everything is going your way, but it might not.

I’m not a fan of coasting in life as I’m sure you can imagine based on the title of my book, What Next. Asking What Next is the opposite of coasting. In the chapter called, appropriately enough, Coasting, I present my case. The quote I start the chapter with succinctly captures my problem with the word “if you are coasting you’re either loosing momentum or you’re heading down hill.”

While everything might seem like it’s going your way, coasting only lasts so long, then the twin effects of friction and incline take their toll as your momentum is reduced. This doesn’t mean you have to keep the pedal to the floor at all times, you can and should let up, but it means that too many people haven’t used the gas in a long time.

Friction is barely noticeable as you coast through life. Maybe your savings is reduced bit by bit, hardly enough to make a difference right? Maybe your retirement savings aren’t as big as they could be, but that’s a long way off. Maybe your relationship with a spouse or partner is becoming mundane but you love each other so it’s all right.

Then bam, a hill appears out of nowhere and coasting isn’t enough any more. You lose a job, your investments take a nose dive, or your relationship takes an unexpected turn. Building up the momentum to get over the hill won’t be easy as the effects of the friction become painfully apparent.

Are you coasting? Is that a problem?

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