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:

home48

And this is what I have:

NewBoat

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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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 just doing it 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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Crap Filter

 
I know it’s a gross title for a post but it is appropriate.

I watched an interview done at the Khan Academy with Elon Musk and it was his words that led to this title.

Entrepreneurship might be glamorous and could prove quite lucrative but it’s also the hardest work you’ll ever do. I’ll let Elon Musk take it from here.

Everyone thinks they want to be the boss but when you’re at the bottom of the “filter for the crapest problems in the company” it’s not a lot of fun. I can speak from experience and while my high points are not as high as Elon Musk’s neither are my low points. When SpaceX had three failed launches in a row and only had one last chance for a very big contract with NASA, that’s really low. When Tesla was a week away from running out of money with no investors willing to step in, that was very low.

In spite of all that, he still felt “quite compelled to do it” and that made all the difference.

In the face of skepticism and failure, to push forward anyway is the sign of a person who will be successful. I have wanted to give up many times, I have wanted to sell my business many times, but I have stuck it out and now it is beginning (these things take time) to pay off. I still have bad days but having come through past obstacles and problems makes the future problems easier to handle.

Feel free to share how you have been stuck at the bottom of the crap filter and come through it stronger than before.


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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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Broaden the Definition of Failure

 
Failure sounds so final, like there is no recovery but the truth is that you can recover from all but the most catastrophic failure. As long as the end result is not death recovery is possible.

I’m not one of those pie in the sky, failure is a gift, kind of people but I do believe a lot can be learned from mistakes and that failure is far more common than we like to admit. Some people don’t want to focus on failures but I want to expand the definition and see failure even in success. If I can pick out the one thing I did wrong in an otherwise successful endeavor, I’ll be even better the next time.

FailinsuccessFailure is not the opposite of success!

Without a crystal ball it’s easy to think of every setback as a catastrophe but the reality is that it’s probably just a bump in the road.

When my most requested massage therapist quit I thought my spa business was doomed, that my descent into bankruptcy was beginning (yes I can be over dramatic sometimes). The reality was that we had many capable and skilled therapists who could and did pick up the slack. Instead of bankruptcy, our revenue increased every week after her departure.

But there was still failure in this situation. I’m not sure the outcome would have been any different but I could have worked smarter to keep her rather than letting my stubbornness get in the way.

Later when another therapist was showing up late, calling out, and otherwise being disruptive, I was less worried. Again she was our most requested therapist but I knew we’d be just fine without her. I had many conversations with her to discover the source of her behavior but to no avail. The outcome was the same, other capable therapists took up the slack and revenue stayed on its upward trajectory.

In each case I failed in some way but I was able to manage the situation, look inside myself and come up with changes to improve myself and my business. If instead of seeing these events as failures, I just saw them as the normal course of doing business, I would not learn from them, I would not be able to make the necessary adjustments to improve my connection with my employees.

I see failure all around because my definition is broader than most, and while I sometimes panic and think the end of the world is near, I know that a solution is probably near as well.


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In This Order

 
In my first post on The RFR Principle there were three words that I think are really important: In This Order. The full quote is: “The RFR Principle says that three elements are necessary for success and they are, in this order, Risk, Failure, and Reward.

Why that order?

First comes the risk because without action, without doing, there is no risk, so risk has to come first.RFR

Failure must be next – it’s the buyer’s remorse that comes from making a decision, the worry and doubt that creeps (and sometimes speeds) in. But it’s so much more than that. Failure is the unanticipated details that come with starting something new, the deflation that follows confidence, the obstacle that from a distance only looked like a bump in the road. Nothing is flawless. No plan, no matter how well thought out and how adeptly executed, is perfect, and that is why failure must be next. The good news is it’s rarely fatal as long as you deal with it quickly and calmly.

Reward comes last and is the most tenuous of the three. It’s often not as great as expected and comes later than anticipated.

Because the RFR Process is perpetual, once the initial cycle completes, all three elements can occur simultaneously. Like electrons speeding around a nucleus, Risk, Failure, and Reward all circle Success and it’s up to you to influence their speed and trajectory.


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The RFR Principle

 
The RFR Principle says that three elements are necessary for success and they are, in this order, Risk, Failure, and Reward. The RFR Process is the continual movement of these three elements.

RFRTo quote Yoda “Do or do not. There is no try.” Doing however takes risk. Staying in bed never making an effort has no risk but also no reward. Starting a business, applying for a new job, asking someone out, all involve risk. Some risks have a high price tag and it’s those that some avoid, others rush into, and still others plan and approach sensibly.

Failure is a an option, it’s also unavoidable. Failure is not the opposite of success in spite of everything you’ve probably been told. Failure is merely a setback. You’ve taken the risk, asked the love of your life out on a date and when you try to pay your credit card is denied. You think it’s over, that she’ll never go out with you again – it feels devastating in the moment but it’s unlikely to be your last date.

Finally the last part of the RFR Principle is reward but rewards are not permanent. If you’ve taken the risk, had setbacks, failures that you thought would end it all, and still came through, then you’ve reaped the reward but it won’t last unless the process is repeated. Too many people look at the success of a reward as an end, a goal to be achieved, but it’s really just a rest stop on the hike of life.

All three elements of success revolve around each other. If one stops the whole process breaks down. Keeping those elements in motion is the willingness to ask What Next, the ambition to overcome complacency, the strength to face obstacles head on.


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Easy or Not? So What!

 
I had a realization today. What seems easy for others probably wasn’t. That’s just the first part.

EasyI look at people, they might be people I know or complete strangers to me, but I look at their success and think why couldn’t that be me? All I see is their success, the end result of whatever it was that got them where they are now. What I didn’t see is the struggle to get there. What seems easy to me, observing from a distance, could have been very difficult for them.

But what if it really was easy for them? What if they didn’t struggle at all? What if they picked the right thing from the start and all their success came without much effort at all? Yeah, what if? The second part of my realization was that even if success came easy for someone else doesn’t mean it will come that easy for me. I could go into the same business they did, invest in the same companies, but for me it’s hard. Maybe I lack an essential skill, maybe I have to work harder, maybe my timing was different.

Whatever the reason, what I can’t do is be upset about it. I just have to concentrate on my work, on my path to success. Whether another person had it easier or harder doesn’t matter. I can learn from them, I can even ask them about their journey (and I might find out it wasn’t as easy as I thought or that it was easier), but then all I can do is take that information and try to make it work for me.


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