Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just be yourself

I would make a normal post...but this song conveys what I wanted to say beautifully. Enjoy!

Someone falls to pieces, sleeping all alone
Someone kills the pain, spinning in the silence
To finally drift away

Someone gets excited
In a chapel yard and catches a bouquet
Another lays a dozen, white roses on a grave

Yeah and to be yourself is all that you can do
Hey, to be yourself is all that you can do

Someone finds salvation in everyone, another only pain
Someone tries to hide himself, down inside himself he prays
Someone swears his true love until the end of time
Another runs away, separate or united, healthy or insane

And to be yourself is all that you can do, yeah
(All that you can do)
To be yourself is all that you can do
(All that you can do)

To be yourself is all that you can do
(All that you can do)
Hey, be yourself is all that you can do

Even when you've paid enough
Been pulled apart or been held up
Every single memory of the good or bad
Faces of luck

Don't lose any sleep tonight
I'm sure everything will end up alright
You may win or lose

But to be yourself is all that you can do, yeah
To be yourself is all that you can do

Oh, to be yourself is all that you can do
(All that you can do)
Hey, to be yourself is all that you can do
(All that you can do)

To be yourself is all that you can
Be yourself is all that you can
Be yourself is all that you can do

--Credit given to Audioslave: "Be Yourself"

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Prioritizing is essential to success

CLEARLY, this guy's got his priorities wrong. In fact, I don't even know why this image came up on a Google search for "prioritizing tasks" ;)

"He who takes a minute from me, takes something he can never return." -Anonymous

Whether you own a business already or are in the process of starting one, it is easy to get caught up in A LOT of things. Time is the most valuable resource we have, but it is also the most scarce and most elusive to notice. Like many things, we don't realize its full worth until it's gone.

Money is the lifeblood of every business. However, time equals money. Therefore time equals the lifeblood of the business. Like my math there? ;) This is true whether your business exists or not. Only difference is that in the beginning, that lifeblood is needed for the "embryo" to become a live "child". If you already own a business, then it's to sustain the life and growth of the business.

Often times, when starting a business, new entrepreneurs get caught up in activities and tasks that are not necessarily the most vital. Some entrepreneurs spend way too much time thinking about fancy marketing campaigns or other non-essential "hot air" even before they've fully fleshed out their product or service. BIG mistake. Spending time thinking about bells and whistles will do 1 or 2 things (or a combination of both):

1) Delay your launch
2) Ensure the failure of the business

The most essential tasks that you need to prioritize are those tasks which directly relate to the operation of your business. I'm talking about the skeleton and muscles of the business. The foundation underneath that allows you to earn revenue. Once the core is in place, then you can worry about the skin and make-up.

Pretend that you've already done all your research and your business idea is a great opportunity. In the startup phase, some key tasks you want to prioritize and tackle first are:

  • Developing a solid plan of how your product/service will make your business money
  • Ascertaining WHAT suppliers and/or labor you will require and HOW you will get it (and of course, how much it'll cost)
  • Plan for your business on how you will deal with too little or too much demand
Basically, your priorities should be about PLANNING PLANNING PLANNING. Then execution. Any activity that is not absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, essential to the launch of your business must be placed in a lower priority. Marketing for example, is one such item that is a lower priority. You can't market what doesn't exist. There will be plenty of time to go out there and market the business once the foundation has been established. There will also be plenty of time to come up with new ways to market the business afterwards.

Before you spend time on a task, always ask yourself, "Does this directly contribute to the launch of the business? Or is this something that can be done after launch?" If the answer is "It can be done after launch" then set it aside and tackle more immediate needs.

Now...for those of us who already own a business, the playing field is a bit different. As a current business owner, your priorities must be towards value-added activities. ALWAYS. For any task you're about to do, you should ask yourself, "Will this activity boost/retain my profit?" If the answer is, "No" or "Not really" then set it aside for now...or don't even bother with it. Your time is limited.

Any task that is required for the maintenance and growth of the "skeleton and muscles" of your business, it must be given highest priority. Notice that I specified "PROFIT" in that question. Boosting revenues is nice, but if you're spending just as much as you're gaining, then you've gained nothing. Lowering costs is good too, but if that lowers your revenue (i.e. because you've cut service, etc.) then the benefit is nill.

You cannot let non value-add activites consume you. (see my post "Don't be a helicopter entrepreneur" on March 31st).

Not convinced? Everyday in the news, you hear about companies going bankrupt. Some are liquidated, others are what they call "restructuring." Restructuring is a HUGE business. Consultants love it. Restructuring is exactly what I just stated above. It is doing what NEEDS to be done. Restructuring efforts prioritize tasks that directly relate to the skeleton and muscles of the business (its core foundations). Bells and whistles like cool marketing, events, or whatnot are CUT until the core of the business is stabilized. It's almost like performing emergency surgery on a dying patient. The first priority is to stop the bleeding, then repair the damage, then give the patient the ability to recover and continue onwards.

Often times, companies enter into bankruptcy because they fail to prioritize correctly. They let cracks in their foundation to fester and grow until the entire house is on the verge of collapse. They keep focusing on trying to sell more and more and come up with crazy marketing campaigns while the core problems (i.e. the quality of their product/service) is deteriorating) is eating them alive. There's just not enough time.

If the lifeblood (time and money) of the business is not being pumped to its "vital organs" it will die. Bankrupt companies are the ones that pumped lifeblood into non-vital areas.

In fact, some companies I've seen were so terrible...I'm convinced all the lifeblood was pumped into their hair or something. "Hey, we're losing millions of dollars, but we're a great company!" Famous last words? Probably.

With that said, I want to leave you with a quote from a philosopher who's name has been lost to time....or maybe it's just me...I don't remember:

"To look outward, you must first look inward. It is the power within that determines what your fate shall be."

Hmm, yeah...actually that is my quote...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Entrepreneurs can be a great force for good

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." -Edmund Burke

Chuck Norris knows this!

Actually, I want to add to that quote. It also triumphs when good men don't do enough.

People have many different reasons why they become entrepreneurs. However, with great power comes great responsibility as well (I did NOT get that from Spider Man!). There are many people in the world who don't even have the luxury of clean drinking water or clean clothes to wear. As a current or future entrpreneur, you should always be grateful for what you have and the opportunities and education you were given. Gratitude cannot be expressed in words or feelings alone, however, it must be expressed by actions as well.

Like I mentioned in my previous post ("Be Selfishly Honest" - April), it is a fundamental law of our existence that if you give, you shall receive. Whether you call it a blessing, karma, mutual cooperation, etc. the concept is still the same. The world is whatever we make of it. Our entire lives have been shaped by the actions of generations before us, and by our actions, we shall shape the generations after ours. It is our responsibility...no...our RIGHT...to give back to our world and do as much good as possible before our short time on this Earth is over.

There are many people in the world that are good-hearted, but they either don't have the means or the strength to take action. However, as entrepreneurs, we have the means and we have the strength. We can inspire people through leading by example. Heck, we look good doing it too. There's nothing wrong with embracing the practical benefits of doing good. It's in our nature. You did something good, therefore you get rewarded. Nothing wrong with that. I believe that as a society, we've been brainwashed by hypocrites to believe that unless we suffer or be 100% selfless (which is impossible) in our good deeds, then we are being selfish and bad.

There are many promising start-ups out there that are making a real difference in people's lives. Whether it be making $100 laptops (One Laptop Per Child) , micro-lending (Kiva.org), or eco-friendly shoes (Autonomie Project Inc.). There are SO many ways as an entrepreneur that you can make a positive difference in the world. That is the beauty of entrepreneurship, you have the FREEDOM to do whatever you believe in. With that freedom, comes your responsibility to your fellow human beings. As an entrepreneur, you are your brother's keeper. Never forget that.

If you want to improve your communities and the world, you need to start doing something about it.

...or else Chuck'll roundhouse kick you in the face ;)

In a future blog post, I am going to dedicate the entire post to list some great examples of social entrepreneurs and their companies. I'd like for you guys to submit your ideas to me. Email me your submission to floid@gogravytrain.com

You can also contact me on Twitter (user name: GravyFloid). Or just click on the little Twitter button on the right side of the blog.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No one can provide for you except yourself

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Ralph Waldo Emesrson

Ever since we were kids, we were taught to become increasingly self-reliant (...well...most of us anyway). We learned to go potty, tie our own shoes and many other things that for some reason I'm convinced some adults haven't learned properly ;)

Since childhood, we have come so far in our lives. We are able to do things that we couldn't possibly do by ourselves as kids. And you know what? It's exhilirating. As we grew up, our freedoms increased. Why? Because we became more self-reliant. Imagine if you always had to rely on others for even just the basics in life? You'd be a slave to your own inability.

We learn so much and have such a determination to be a unique individual...but why do most of us stop? How come most people have not learned how to provide for themselves without relying on someone else to cut them a pay check? Have our bosses become our new parents?

It is one thing to serve another in order to learn and grow. It is quite another when you serve in order to live.

It's true, you cannot become a great leader until you know what it is to serve another. Unless you apply that knowledge, however, you will become a slave. Just as you gained greater independence from your parents, now you must gain independence from your bosses. Just like most things in this life, self-reliance is earned, not given.

Great leaders are not superhuman. They are people, just like you and me. The only difference between a servant and a leader is that a leader empowers him/herself through action and the application of knowledge. No one has a "master plan" where victory is assured. Leaders are just as uncertain as everyone else. Like anything in life, sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and hope for the best. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

One key lesson people MUST learn is that in business, nothing is personal. Your boss might be a great person, but don't forget: you're there because you're useful to your boss. You do not owe any further loyalty to your boss beyond doing your job well...nor does your boss owe you any further loyalty than rightfully compensating you for your work.

Adversity is a true test of one's character. I've witnessed and heard many stores of offices where everyone got along like a family. When tough times hit, all loyalty jumped out the window. One story was a boss who jumped ship to another company and left a bunch of good people in the lurch despite having a personal rapport with them. Rather than feeling a sense of loyalty to his employees and trying his hardest to keep the ship afloat and going down with it if necessary (like any true Captain would), he jumped ship. He took a handful of the most senior people who he saw as the most useful to him and left the rest to fend for themselves. Oh well, nothing personal, right?

Think that's pretty bad? Take a recent example in the news. Frank Scudere, a lawyer who survived the Hudson River plane crash, was let go from his job. Even though he almost died trying to do his job, he still got canned. His performance reviews were all very good. He was the model employee by many respects. The day he got laid off, his medical benefits were immediately cut off and was told he had three hours to leave the law firm's offices before security escorts him out. Of course, the business had to lay off people to cut costs. That is understandable. However, notice that even though he was a great guy, ultimately, it didn't mean anything. In fact, he was almost treated like a trespasser on the day of his lay off.

If you think that someone else is going to make you rich or successful, you are WRONG. Only YOU can make you successful. Only YOU can make you happy.

People want you to work for them because you are useful, not because they like you. While it's nice if your boss is taking you wherever he goes, it is in fact a curse. You are destined to be his servant, limited in your freedoms and exposure. Imagine if you worked for someone for most of your life, and then that person leaves? What then? It's just like the child who never learned how to tie his shoes. The child is at the mercy of others. When you rely on the mercy or provisions of others, you are not free, you are a dependent.

Don't stop learning. Your quest for self-reliance is not over. Until you can live a life where your destiny and well-being is entirely driven by you, you will never live the life you always wanted. You will look back, and instead of remembering the triumphant victories of your own efforts, you will remember the time your master gave you a pat on the back when you were forced to miss your child's birthday.

To wrap up, I want to leave you with a poem from Saxon White Kessinger called "Feeling Important?"

Sometimes when you're feeling important,
Sometimes when your ego's in bloom,
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You're the best qualified in the room;
Sometimes when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out, and the hole that's remaining
Is the measure of how you'll be missed.
You can splash all you want when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore;
But stop, and you'll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral in this quaint example
Is to do just the best that you can;
Be proud of yourself, but remember
There's no indispensable man.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You have to put the SOCIAL in Social Marketing...

I'm hiring by the way ;)

Social Marketing: It's all the rage these days. For good reason too. It works.

A lot of people do it, but not many realize what they get themselves into though. Social marketing may seem like an innovation or a new concept, however, it is nothing new. Social marketing is merely the successful aspects of traditional marketing. Ever since the dawn of trade and commerce, there has never been anything more effective than the power of the spoken word...when your own customers sell for you without you even trying.

We do it in our everyday lives. We recommend great movies, restaurants or products to our friends. If we're not getting compensated for doing that, then why do we do it? Because when you recommend a good product or service to someone else, it makes you look good. In a way, it is also a way of repaying your "gratitude." Of course, there are those who do it because they want to share more things in common with their friends/loved ones to strengthen the bonds between them. Whatever the reason may be, the result is still the same. The company benefits without having to lift a finger or convince you further.

Effective salesmen and marketers for hundreds of years have known that the key to being successful is to connect with your customers and prospects on a personal level. It is what is known in persuasion science as "Liking" Of course, the most common reaction is "Well, duh!" Unfortunately, it's not that obvious. How many times have you run into terrible salesmen or dreadful marketing attempts? Too many times I bet.

One case in point: Tupperware. We've all heard of it, and they are wildly successful. How do they sell products so well? They hold "Tupperware Parties" all over the world. The company reaches out to existing customers and help them set up a tupperware party at home and invite all their friends to come. These parties would often just be normal get-togethers. House moms would share cooking with each other, socialize and have fun. All the while, the benefits of using tupperware are shown throughout the party in a very casual and personal way. Most customers would probably have done these parties for free, just for the social aspect. However, the company generously compensates them based on how much tupperware is sold after the party. Genius? Yes. New concept? Absolutely not.

The current craze for social marketing is not a revolution by any stretch of the word. If you remember from my previous posts, change is usually incremental. The reason why social marketing is so wildly popular now is because now we have new tools that make it easier than before to connect with people on a personal level. New tools for an age-old concept.

The key to successfully using these tools is to use a little common sense. Often times, I see quite a few people on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook endlessly spam links and sales pitches. I guarantee that the "throw crap on the wall and see what sticks" approach does not work very well. If you want people to be open to your marketing efforts, you need to show them that you are an actual person that talks and listens to them. The most effective people I've seen on Twitter do that, to great effect. They don't just blitz people with useless quotes, dumb links or empty sales pitches. They connect with people, and make an honest effort to be SOCIAL.

That's how you get the word-of-mouth referrals, by connecting with people, not spamming them. Besides, you'll have fun doing it, and meet some really cool people in the process! Some successful salesmen I know have made lasting friendships with people they've sold to in the past.

Of course, remember another principle I've always said in this blog, you need to add value. Tweeting/FB'ing about how you just took a giant dump is not connecting with people. It's true too, people do that...a lot. I saw one guy tweet about that he's currently brushing his teeth. I don't want to even know how he managed that. Others will try the "I'm hanging out with XYZ right now! Fun time!" Seriously? If you're having fun, then why are you on your phone updating others about it? Sounds like you're kinda bored to me ;)

So, what are some tools out there to connect with people on a social level? Well, these are probably obvious, but for references sake, here are some that work well:

  • Blogging - Remember to try and keep it interesting and relevant to your target market. Try to have some interesting insights that people can learn or respond to!
  • Forums/Message boards - Hang out in forums that are relevant to your target market.
  • Facebook/MySpace - Great way to connect with people on a personal level. Try to stick with people that fit your target market.
  • Twitter - An excellent way to interact with people and promote your business. In my opinion, it's even more effective than Facebook or MySpace due to the sheer ease of following people's Tweets and replying to them. Again, stick to your target market whenever possible.
There are others of course. However, these are some of the most popular ones out there right now.

Remember, the point is to have fun while doing it. Use a little common sense, and you'll get far!

Oh...by the way, I'm compiling a list of "Tweets Gone Wild" (i.e. tweeting while taking a dump). I am accepting submissions and will post the list on this blog when I have enough good ones. You can submit either by messaging me on Twitter, posting a comment here or messaging me on Facebook. For those of you who want to use Facebook, I'm known as "Floid Roflcopter" ;) Otherwise just click the Twitter link on the right side of the blog.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It all starts with KISS'ing...

I got splinters...

...sometimes you gotta paint the fence for an hour...gents ;)

To start, the term KISS stands for: Keep It Simple, Stupid. I sure as heck didn't mean the band. The term can also stand for Keep It Short and Simple...but that just sounds stupid. If it were up to me, I'd call it KISD - Keep It Simple, Dufus. The power of the word "Dufus" is so vastly underrated. Yes, I know it's also spelled with 2 o's, but that's for dufuses.

Anyways, I digress...

This principle of keeping it simple (dufus) is an essential principle to not only being a successful entrepreneur but as a person in general. That's not to say that anything you do should always appeal to the lowest common denominator. Otherwise you'd never have new and exciting innovations, and comedians would only do fart and dick jokes (which are always funny).

I talk to a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs. They're very ambitious, go-getters and great people in general. However, when they talk about their conceptual businesses with me, I sometimes feel my brain is about to hemorrhage. Heck, I've been guilty of this too in the past. It's natural. Entrepreneurs are people who want to change things, that's in their nature.

However, one must understand that change is incremental. We as human beings build upon an already existing foundation of knowledge and improve upon it. Some may argue, "Oh yeah? What about the internet? That was a revolution!" Not really. The internet has been in existence for DECADES, however, it was used primarily for military and - to a degree - academic purposes. It wasn't until it was commercialized and made much simpler that the masses began to adopt it.

Some of the greatest revolutions in history were YEARS in the making. It wasn't until things got much simpler and people realized "Oh, looks like I need to get outside and protest" or "Looks like I need to pick up my sword/gun and fight." that revolutions actually gained steam and created real change. Back before then, the seeds of those revolutions were complex. They'd start with a few intellectual treatises, debates, etc. Even the beginnings of the world's major monotheistic religions were seen as foreign and complicated concepts to people at first. One God? Heaven? Hell? Resurrection?

Change is similar to a volcano building up magma and pressure before that big eruption.

What can entrepreneurs learn from this? That if you really want your business to shine with flying colors, you need to make it simple and it needs to be an improvement over an existing concept, idea or technology. This doesn't necessarily ALWAYS have to be the case. The point is that you need to be able to serve an undermet need or create a need for your service or product. No matter how "revolutionary" a technology may seem, it is almost always an improvement over an existing technology. Don't be fooled. There are exceptions to everything, true, but we're not in the business of focusing on just exceptions.

Take, for example, the huge success of Twitter. 2 years ago, barely anyone heard of Twitter. Now it's all the rage. Why is Twitter successful? First of all, it's really mind-numbingly easy to use. You type in what you're doing (in 140 characters or less) in a nice little text box and press a nice big "UPDATE" button. Want to follow someone? No problem, just press the nice "Follow" button. Everything else is taken care of.

Twitter is just yet another manifestation of the ever growing social networking craze that was made popular by Friendster and then MySpace and Facebook. Twitter's an incremental change, they're not a revolution by any means. Many people STILL wonder, "Why the heck do people want to know what everyone's up to?" Well, because being connected is a social need, and Twitter's meeting that need. We're increasingly living in an age of instant gratification and an ever increasing fear of being lonely.

Lets take another example: Facebook. With MySpace so overwhelmingly popular at the time, how the heck did Facebook blind-side it and actually beat it at its own game? Facebook and MySpace are fundamentally the same. However, Facebook made a number of critical incremental improvements. Facebook kept user profiles very clean and simple. You have no idea how many MySpace profiles I've run into that have almost given me a seizure just by looking at them... Facebook also introduced very nifty features like a news feed, status updates, organized photo albums and other simple things. Facebook is clean, organized, and very easy to use. In fact, it is almost dufus-proof. Any schmuck can start a Facebook profile with ease without having to read the help section or ask someone for help. Same goes for Twitter, any schmuck can do it.

For a more classical example...Henry Ford was one of the pioneers of modern industry because of his invention of the assembly line. By giving each worker a very simple, dufus-proof task for each step of the manufacturing process, he was able to mass produce his cars and offer them to the masses. He kept it simple, real simple. His concepts are STILL used today. The core concept of "Lean Manufacturing" simply means making your manufacturing process dufus-proof and require a minimal amount of thought on the part of the workers. For all you uppity "experts" out there, KISS my ass, it's true ;)

As a current or aspiring entrepreneur, that's what you need to aim to do. You need to try and make all aspects of your product or service dufus-proof and require minimal thought on the part of your customer. People want things yesterday, and if they need to think hard, you've probably lost a good deal of them. If you got this "awesome" website, you better make sure people can use it without much trouble. If you have a great product...well...can someone use it with minimal guidance? Remember my previous blog post ("Size Doesn't Matter" - March) about the vegetable peeler guy? One of the reasons why he was so successful was because he showed people how SIMPLE it was to use his product. Boy, he wasn't kidding.

Before you launch something, take the time to let average joes try using your site/service/product. Then collect their feedback. You want to especially pay attention to their feedback on what they found difficult to understand or hard to use. You want to take that feedback, and make the needed improvements. In fact, KISS doesn't just apply to your customers, it also applies to you. Try to keep your own business as simple as possible to run. Automate where you can, and use COMMON SENSE. Keeping your own operations simple will also help keep your product/service simple for your customers.

Ok, time to press the big orange "Publish Post" button. Hehe, me so smart.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Be "selfishly honest"

For this blog's more "refined" audience (myself included):

"It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime." - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

For everyone else (myself included):

It sure is!

In fact, I posted up this picture because it brings about a fond memory. Anyone who lives in New York City will almost always see a panhandler on the streets or in the subways. Some are genuine, a lot of them are BS'ers. In fact, some of the younger ones on the street are actually film/acting students (How do I know? Word on da street...nukka.)

It is no mystery that the most successful panhandlers are the ones that earn their money. What I mean by that is that they either A) Seem honest (either they look really beaten up, etc.) B) Are funny or C) Demonstrate a talent of theirs. What do all 3 options have in common with each other? They're honest.

One night, I was walking in the streets of the city with some friends when a funny-looking man with disheveled hair and clothes walked up to us with a toothy smile. He stopped in front of us and said, "Hey brothas, could you care to make a donation to the United *insert N word that ends with "a" and an apostrophe* Pizza Fund?" We laughed of course. I then ask the man, "And what's that for?" Without skipping a beat he said, "It's a donation for pizza and beer, for
*insert plural N word* "

I gave him money, and so did my friends. Rather than BS us about coming out of prison or feeding 6 kids, he honestly told us he was going to spend it on pizza and beer. It was a refreshing dose of honesty in a craft that is so often deceitful. Now, I'm not saying I'd have given the guy money if he said "Hey man, can I get money for some blow?" There are exceptions to every rule, of course! Being honest is one thing, being foolish is quite another ;)

So, what lesson can entrepreneurs learn from this? That you need to be "selfishly honest."

The beauty of moral values is that they are not only what make us human and noble, but they are also in our own best interests. Morality is why society is able to exist. If people didn't know right from wrong, you'd have chaos and destruction everywhere. You shouldn't feel bad if an act of kindness was "selfish." And yes, even getting "an emotional high" can be seen as a selfish motive. Whether you're religious or not, it is an undeniable truth that your actions eventually catch up to you. If you've done good things, good things will come to you. It is a simple law that for every action, there is a reaction (but not necessarily equal or opposite, as evidenced in physics!).

There are people out there who have either a persistent (or sporadic) world-view of, "Good people finish last. Only corrupt and ruthless people get ahead in this life." That's a dangerous belief. Subscribing to this belief corrupts you as well. Remember, while it may seem like we live in jungles of metal and stone, it doesn't mean we have to be one of the "apes" in it. Human beings are, by nature, good. That's why we have a natural compass between right and wrong and why we have a natural propensity towards order.

As an entrepreneur, you want to run an honest business. Why? Because people appreciate that. Think of the friendly waiter who doesn't recommend you the most expensive dish for example, but one that is actually cheaper but much better. Because of his honesty, you tip him more. The waiter in that example was selfishly honest. By being good to you, you reciprocate and be good to him. The waiter knows this. Besides, being nice to restaurant staff also ensures that your food doesn't come with any "extras" if you know what I mean...

In psychology, this phenomenon is called the "reciprocation" principle. By making a "sacrifice" or doing someone a favor, it triggers a natural instinct in the other person to repay the "debt" We have a fundamental revulsion to being indebted to someone and seek to repay the debt however we can. That's why even to this day, people who can't pay their debts are punished and looked down upon. In fact, it is no mystery that if you do someone a favor, they usually repay the favor in kind far beyond the actual favor's value. Why do you think we revere heroes so much? Think about that.

So...as an entrepreneur, you want to be honest to your employees and your customers. Care for them, and don't try to BS your services or products!
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. (That's coming from Honest Abe...or was it also Bill Cosby? JELLO!!!)

If you cannot run a business without resorting to BS, then you should reconsider why you're in business. It is not sustainable. Listen, that's not to say you shouldn't be very enthusiastic and sell your service or proudct like it was the best in the world. However, there's a difference between enticing people and misleading people.

There have been many studies done that show that what people appreciate the most are responsible businesses. Businesses that care for their customers and have strong values. It is because of strong values that these companies provide excellent customer service. You'll find that even if you're not the highest quality or lowest price player out there, you'll still have many loyal customers. Surveys of employees also favor an employer who embraces strong values and honesty. What matters most to us as human beings have always been those things that are intangible.

It is in your best interests to be honest and good. So go ahead, be selfish about it! We are all selfish. It's in our nature. There are REAL benefits to embracing goodness and honesty. That's the beauty of it all! We're not beasts of burden or sacrificial lamb! Even if being good causes you to lose out on something in the short-term, you will gain much more in the long-term. Be good, be patient and always perservere! That is the hallmark of a true entrepreneur.

Oh cool, my pizza and beer are here. Later!

...(just kidding ;) )

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Change is earned, not given...

How else would you change the channel then?

Hold on...let me just recover from temporary blindness...

Ok, I'm fine now.

Change is important. However, many of us fear change...and for good reason too. We don't like to deal with the unknown. The unknown scares us because we have no control over it. Human beings have a natural tendency towards order and predictability. This tendency is both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, this natural tendency is essential for society to function and guarantee the survival of the human race. You can't get anything done when there's chaos. On the other hand though, it makes us become our own worst enemies. How, you ask? By making us live a life of habit.

Most of us probably do the same things everyday. We wake up in the morning, go to school/work, do what we're told and then go home and maybe watch some TV or go on the computer. On the weekends, we hang out with our friends, talk about things, get wasted and stumble back home to nurse a hangover the next day....only to repeat the cycle again and again.

Rinse and repeat.

Picture a scenario for a moment. Lets say your TV was displaying a channel you didn't like (*COUGH* like the one above *COUGH*) Would you:

A) Change the channel?
B) Sit there, tolerate it and even convince yourself that it's actually good?

Most of you would say you would choose A. Words are nice. However, actions speak louder than words. Most people, through their actions, choose B every single day of their lives.

This brings me to the point. Change is earned, not given.

You can't change the channel unless you take some sort of action. You need to grab that remote control or go up to the TV and press the button. The same goes for life. You cannot change the "channel" of your life unless you get up and take action. The channel isn't going to change itself.

Many people I've talked to say, "Man, if I only had more money" or "I hope XYZ happens to me.." etc. If you want change, you need to act. By taking action, yes, your habits will be disrupted, things will become unpredictable. If history, religion and our lives have taught us something...it is this fundamental law of our existence: Nothing good comes without sacrifice.

I want you to remember this quote: "A courageous person is not a person without fear, it is a person who feels fear but overcomes it."

We're all afraid of things, it's natural. Those stories you read about great leaders? They were scared as hell, but they kept going. We like to remember them as fearless, almost god-like, because we like to revere things that are not like us. On the contrary, these men and women were just like us. We forget that every single one of us is human...and that we're ALL capable of great things.

Only YOU can change the channel. No one else can do it for you. Why? Because then you'll just keep relying on them...and nothing changes. You will not only be a slave to another, but a slave to your own inaction. An orderly, predictable slave. Anyone who tells you they can change you, make you successful, rich or happy is a LIAR. Only YOU can make YOU successful, happy and/or rich.

And I say to you: Get up and change the channel.