Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Employee Performance reviews should be like a GOOD wedding anniversary

If you’ve ever been responsible for giving a performance review, my title doesn’t sound anything like what you picture or what you’ve ever done, right? After all, performance reviews are how we determine pay raises and you can’t exactly throw a celebration if their performance just isn’t up to par… Correct. However a performance review isn’t just about how well they’re doing… It’s about how well you, the manager or leader, is doing…

This is one of my longest, yet most powerful blogs so read all of it and offer your comments whether you agree or not. 🙂

Let’s start at the beginning. What are the goals of a performance review in most instances:

  1. Assess Performance
  2. Implement Raises according to number 1.
  3. Set goals for next year.

If those are your only goals, you may be missing the most important part… The primary goal of a performance review should be to determine if you’re getting the absolute best out of your team member and if not, what can be done to do so. That doesn’t mean you should ignore a performance assessment…

Before we get to the performance assessment, it’ crucial you, the leader, understand that according to First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham, the number one factor that affects employee satisfaction and performance is their relationship with their immediate supervisor. That’s significant enough that it needs to be repeated. The only way you will ever get the best from a team member is if they have a strong relationship with you, their boss. That’s number one. Keep that in mind when we review everything else in this blog. Your ability to foster a strong relationship is the key to this puzzle… Is your performance review designed with that in mind??? We’ll get back to that in a bit…

Let’s start with the performance assessment by considering how we measure success in school. Like it or not, all of your employees went to school at some point and were graded according to his or her performance with either letter grades or percentage grades. That’s how we teach our children to know if they are doing well or not… In sports we learn that points, wins, and stats for your position are the proof of doing well. And then we move into the “real world” and people like Michael Masterson suggest your top 7 people in a Stage 1 organization should have a job description of “taking care of customers”. Or something equally vague but in theory “empowering”. Even if you do have a job description, it’s loaded with vague descriptions like, “dress professionally”, “interact positively with coworkers”, “present our products in a positive manner”. So we teach our children (and every one of your employees were once grade school children) to grade and measure performance down to fraction of percentage results on tests and in youth sports and then we put them in the work force and tell them to do a good job. So you have 2 options… First, you can attempt to reform the schooling system to implement more fuzzy methods of measuring performance… OR, Secondly, you can develop more concrete ways of assessing performance with actual numbers and grades. Why do you need to do this? Because according to Buckingham, under-performing and unhappy employees are partially that way because, “they don’t know what’s expected of them at work.” In other words, when they leave work for the day, they have only a vague idea of whether they did a “good job” or not. “Well, I didn’t wreck my truck and the boss didn’t yell at me so I must be doing a good job.” In some form or another, that’s how the majority of the workers in America assess their days.

This blog doesn’t have the time to address how to develop these performance benchmarks and report cards since its focus is performance reviews, however I’ve discussed it a bit before in a previous blog.

So now that you have the Key Performance Indicators, this portion of the performance review becomes almost moot. Why? Well do you remember in school when you got your report card at the end of the quarter or semester? Were the results a surprise to you? Sure you might wonder if you were going to get an A or B since you were on the border, but you knew you weren’t getting an F. Well the same becomes true at work. When you go down the list during your annual review the results are mostly expected and so aren’t a negative even if they are negative. Moreover, if they’re failing in every important category then shame on you because you should have done them a favor and gotten rid of them a long time ago. If they’re failing in some areas but doing very well in others that gives you a great opportunity to be positive about their strengths and then positively ask (don’t tell) how they can do better in the other areas.  Or you can always readjust their job description so they’re only doing the things they are really good at and drop out the things they are struggling with. Review my blog on hiring based on the job description you write after the interview for more details.

Now it’s time to determine raises. Well do you think it’s going to be easier to create an incentive-based pay system AND accurately determine fair and reasonable raises if everything is outlined on a report card? Yes. So implementing raises also becomes a non-issue. This is almost too easy isn’t it?

The most important part, however, is getting the best out of your team member. I also mentioned that very long, detailed, and exhaustive studies show that the number one contributor to that is the team member’s relationship with their direct supervisor…  Which means, to get the most out of your performance review you need to know how your relationship stands AND you need to strengthen it! Are you starting to see how making it like a good wedding anniversary, in other words, an exciting celebration of a great relationship, is crucial. How do you improve this relationship?

  1. Focus on positive and not negative. Look, if this is an annual review and you’re bringing up a screw-up from 8 months ago, you just aren’t getting the point. When someone screws up, you address it IMMEDIATELY along with a way to prevent it from happening again and you forget it (of course you can keep it in their company file in case the relationship ends up in divorce later). Think of it this way, is your anniversary dinner going to be a lot of fun when you sit down and your spouse brings up all of your screw-ups from the last year? Of course not! So why would you do that in a review where you’re main goal is to build a relationship???
  2. Have quarterly performance reviews. Do you honestly think you can build a relationship with an annual assessment? That’s just silly so stop it.
  3. Use the 12 questions from First, Break All The Rules. You may be afraid once you read them because they have nothing to do with the employees performance… They have to do with how well YOU are doing at providing them with an environment in which they can excel. Hopefully by now you understand that that is exactly what we want.
  4. Call it a Quarterly Chat so people don’t fear it and actual look forward to receiving 20-30 minutes of undivided attention from their boss.

Think of this from a different angle… Think for a second about your favorite 3 teachers from grade school. Do you have a good mental image? Are you smiling just thinking about them? Great! Now tell me, what grade did they give you in the second quarter when you had them? Uh…. You don’t remember? Well they were your favorite teacher why wouldn’t you recall how well they taught you? Because that wasn’t how they built the relationship with you! Teachers build relationships with students in many ways, but grading is not one of them. We understood as children that the grading was a necessary evil however it wasn’t what made us love or hate a teacher (usually). Right now I can think of teachers I liked who didn’t necessarily give me the best grades and ones I hated and had no respect for who gave me straight A’s. Why? Because I EARNED my grades based on my own effort however my relationship with my teacher was something she EARNED with me separately. Granted, if she was a terrible teacher and never actually taught me anything useful, that might taint the relationship. Think that might be true of your direct-reports as well?

That’s the context in which you need to consider your performance reviews. Assessments and raises should be tied to such clear definitions of performance that it’s obvious before you ever have your review what the results will be and those results will have no affect on your relationship. That’s not entirely true… Your team member will respect and appreciate you more for your direct, simple honesty.

Let’s say you’re on the other side of the coin and you’re the employee who is stressed because your review is coming up and you have no idea what to expect or if they’re going to bring up screw-ups from your past year one-by-one. Before you start looking for another job here are a few things you can do:

  1. Buy your boss a copy of First, Break All the Rules and tell them you read the book and thought they’d really enjoy it. If you think your boss is going take it as a personal insult as if you were saying, “You don’t know how to do your job so you need this”, it may be time to look for a new boss. Simply say you read it, were super impressed, and know they’re always looking for great new ideas so thought they might enjoy it.
  2. They will have some sort of checklist or score sheet or something to review you “objectively” with. Ask for a copy. Look, if you don’t know how you’re being graded, how can you do your best to get good grades? And that’s exactly what you should say to your boss if they ask why you want a copy.
  3. Review your job description and make sure you can highlight how you’re doing really well on each point (with specific stories to illustrate if time permits) and point out that you did make a few mistakes, but you aren’t making the same mistakes twice. You’re making new mistakes and the company mission, culture, or you job description (hopefully) indicates that you’re supposed to be innovative and even take a few risks and try new ideas. In other words, turn your negatives into positives.
  4. Ask to have reviews quarterly so you know where you’re standing throughout the year and can work to get better without having to wait till the end of the year when your raise is on the line.

The bottom line is this, you want to do a great job and you may need some help from your boss to determine exactly how to do that. That should be the focus of your review particularly if you feel you’re being unfairly reviewed and held back from raises. If none of those suggestions make any difference, it may be time to look for a new job because you obviously don’t have a strong relationship with your boss.

So whether you are the reviewer or reviewee (yep, just made that word up), you need to focus on ways to improve your relationship and the system your company uses for evaluations.

To your performance-reviewing success, Bryan

P.S. I’m aware this is a rather unique idea… If you don’t like it (or absolutely love it) leave me a comment to tell me why.

You’re a business owner – you did not buy yourself a job!

This is it. This is the most important concept to grasp as a business owner… This colors and influences every decision you make in your business.

Brad Sugars has another way of saying this. His definition of a business is, “A commercial, profitable enterprise that works without me.” Did you read that last part? Without Me!

In other words, if your business requires you then it’s not a business… You have just bought or created a job for yourself. See the difference? Michael Gerber in The E-Myth Revisited refers to this as the owner being the Technician.

Why is it so crucial that your business can run without you? There are hundreds of reasons but I’ll give you 3.

  1. It’s worth more – A business that is sold including a trained, experienced manager is always worth more than one that doesn’t have one. Consider there are basically 2 types of people who buy business. Investors buy businesses to make a return on their cash investment and these guys REQUIRE a trained manager in place. Entrepreneurs often buy businesses to make a return on their money but to also give themselves something to do. In other words, they want to be the Team Leader or CEO. However, if you have one of these people looking to buy your business how hard do you think it’s going to be to convince them that they can buy the business, get the return they want, AND work on what they want when they want? Worst-case scenario they can easily remove the existing manager if they really want to, however most people won’t do that.
  2. You’ll enjoy it more – All business owners want the same thing – A business that predictably puts money in their bank account with the freedom to choose when they work and what they do. The only way that dream is possible is if you have a go-to guy or gal running the operations every day whether you’re there or not. Now if you like actually doing the plumbing for your plumbing business or tax returns for your accounting business who is going to tell you not to? No one. You’re the owner. You can still choose what you want to do when you have someone else in charge of putting out the fires.
  3. The business will be better for it – If your job and responsibility every day is to work ON your business and not IN it, what do you think is going to happen to your business? Let me tell you. It’s going to get better. When you can start spending your time working on improving your referral system, customer experience, team building and retention, and shopping for better vendors (you know, all those things you don’t have time for now) isn’t it obvious that the business is going to be better?

So if you’re the technician in your business and there’s is just no way you’ll be able to leave for 3 months on a European vacation and return to a healthy business what are you going to do?

You basically have 2 options:

  1. Teach yourself everything you possibly can about building a business to run without you. In other words, learn about business. Not your specific business or industry or niche. Just about building businesses in general. To do this, you’ll realistically need to read about a hundred books and put into action all the things you learn from them. Start with the books on my Entrepreneur Books list. You’ll also want to start learning from owners whose businesses do run without them and start attending seminars and webinars to help you learn how to maximize 3 essential parts to every successful business – Sales/Marketing, Finance/Accounting, and Service/Operations. If you’re this kind of hands-on, self-taught person, then by all means take this route. This is obviously what I have done and continue to do. It will literally take you several years and in the process you may realize that your business just isn’t capable of that vision and decide to sell it and look for one that can accomplish your goals.
  2. Work with a Business Engineer to help get you on the fast-track. Enlist the help of someone who has already done the items in number 1 with one or more businesses and who can quickly evaluate the status of your business and help you put together the plan to move it to the next level. If you’re located anywhere in the US or Canada and have Internet access and a phone line, we can help. Contact me to learn more about the process. You can also read my blog about why business coaches and consultants won’t work to get a better idea of what Business Engineering is all about.

So what are you doing to do today and this week to take that step from a job owner to a business owner? Don’t put it off. If nothing else, email me saying you enjoyed the read and would like to try either option 1 or 2 above and would like to know where to start.

To your business-owning success, Bryan

Your business DOES need an exit strategy!

In the last few days I read an article on Entrepreneur.com and the book Rework where people have said buying or starting a business with the idea of selling it is horrible. They gave various reasons why this disgraceful practice will hurt your business including it leads to a lot of bad things, you won’t focus on customers, and you will be too distracted by cashing out to do a good job.

Respectfully, I disagree with Jason Fried, David Heinenmeier Hansson, and Michael Mothners. Firstly, it seems obvious that all of them have only been involved in growing or starting their own businesses so I’d suggest their experiences in different types of businesses with different owners is a bit limited. For instance, Fried and Hansson suggest that business owners looking to sell are generally trying to get acquired. Huh? In the 100 plus business owners I’ve worked with I don’t recall ever hearing about someone wanting to get acquired. That’s just a bit of the authors projecting their experience as a software company and of the software industry overall to all businesses and it just isn’t that way for businesses outside the technology realm. Mothners also owns a technology company so I’m guessing his disdain for exit strategies is based on the idea of companies popping up just to get bought out by Microsoft or Google.

In the real world of brick-and-mortar businesses few owners have that vision. As a matter of fact, most owners have no idea when they should sell their business, how to sell it, or even what it’s worth. What’s worse is few appreciate that if they’re working IN the business everyday instead of ON it their business is worth significantly less once they stop working there. My point is that why make a statement such as, “building a business to sell it is a bad idea” when the negative situations that they are concerned with are probably less than 1/10th of 1% of the total transactions and businesses? There are nearly 250,000 businesses sold in the US each year and that only represents about 20% of the total businesses listed. In other words, only 1 in 5 businesses grossing under $10 million/year will sell. It doesn’t sound to me like building to sell is the problem or you think more people would be able to actually find a buyer.

So what are the real problems small business owners face?

  1. They don’t know how to build a business. In Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Jim Collins discovered that businesses that remain profitable for decades (even centuries) remain that way because they are great BUSINESSES not because they have great products. Most business owners focus on delivering a certain product or service without figuring out how to build a great business.
  2. They don’t know how to distance themselves from the business. In other words, they make the business completely dependent on themselves. If they’re not there working, selling, servicing or whatever, the business isn’t running. That means when they go to sell the business it’ll be worth a whole lot less without them there. Not only that, the only people interested in buying it will be buyers who also want to work in the business not investors. Working buyers generally don’t have as much cash as an investor looking for a steady return on his money.
  3. They don’t know what their business is worth or how to increase its value. The result of that is they always want more money for it than anyone else is willing to pay.

So what’s the solution to fix all of these real problems that I would estimate nearly 80% of business owners have? An exit strategy, of course. Here’s why an exit strategy is so important:

  1. It forces the owner to look at how to make the business great. Few people (myself excluded) want to buy a business that isn’t run well. They generally want a business with a strong, steady history of cashflow with minimal headaches and issues. If your primary focus is simply to grow and work in your business it’s very hard to step back and look at the big picture of your business being a finished product that runs so smoothly someone else would love to own it.
  2. Owners will need to figure out how to remove themselves from the business. You can’t sell the business if you’re required to run it, so an exit strategy will help you focus on working ON the business more than IN it.
  3. They will have to come up with a reasonable value for their business. Most business owners have an idea of how much they’d like to get for their business when they sell it. Unfortunately, that number doesn’t usually correlate with what it’s actually worth. With an exit strategy you need to look at a reasonable value for your business today and then set a game plan for increasing it’s value to the point where you can sell it for what you want. No exit strategy and chances are you’ll never really look at it’s value. This is very sad because most business owners only sell when they’re ready to retire. In essence, their business is their retirement plan. So if they go to sell and find out their business is only worth half of what they thought, that makes for either a tough retirement or a lot more years of work.
  4. It forces a time table for the 3 items above. Without an exit strategy with a specific time frame, few owners will ever do the things above even if they know they should. “There’s always tomorrow, or next month or next year to get that done… I have customers to take care of today.”
  5. Buying, building and selling businesses is generally a much faster system for creating wealth than buying, building and keeping. I’ve explained this in previous blogs so I won’t address it again here. This philosophy is probably what is thought of as a “bad idea” however, in my experience, this generally greatly benefits the businesses being acquired and resold. Why? Because people who are doing this understand how to make a business better. Not just a shell game of cleaning up the books, but a business that takes care of its customers, employees, vendors and owners better. Truly an improved business comes out the other end when an experienced person takes over to increase the value of a business to sell. I’ve written a 5-part series of blogs outlining how someone can go about buying a business and quickly improving it.

In summary, be wary of advice from business experts who have only owned or run 1 business or in a single industry and then attempt to extrapolate their experiences and lessons to all businesses in all industries. The real world, where over 5 million businesses exist in the US, is quite a vast landscape. More importantly, if you’re ever looking to retire or sell your business, you need to work on an exit strategy immediately. Make it a priority to get done this week! Contact me if you have any questions on how to structure a reasonable plan.

To your successful exit strategy, Bryan

What are the chances of creating the next Facebook, Google, or Zappos?

Yesterday I was listening to an interview where Ron Morris, The American Entrepreneur interviewed Matt Mickiewicz the co-founder and CEO of 99Designs.com. Matt’s story is quite incredible. He’s currently 27 years old, lives in Vancouver where he grew up, and owns 3 businesses. The 2nd business, 99Designs.com does about $1 million in revenue per month already and was founded in February 2008. It also has 78,000 designers around the world who “compete” against one another through a process called Crowdsourcing. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s how it works:

  1. A business person logs onto the website and says he has a design project for a website, logo, brochures, graphics or just about anything else. He dictates how much he can afford and a deadline for submission.
  2. 78,000 designers and members of the site (only 60% are from the US) can now accept the project, create a design, and submit it.
  3. The business person will now have generally 99 options to choose from and 99Designs.com automatically facilitates the payment to the designer.

For the designer, he now has a potential customer. For the business person, he now has the best possible design at the best possible price and potentially a long-term relationship with a designer he knows does great work.

So how did a 27 year old from Vancouver come up with this? It started when he was 14 and decided to start learning about websites… He started designing websites for local businesses and eventually created a site that offered marketing services to all of the Dot Com companies popping up all over the place in the late 90’s. As Ron puts it, he was selling shovels to the gold diggers during a gold rush. He was still in High School at this time and was bringing in 6-figures… He did point out, however, that he was taking too much time to grow his business and so was never a real good student. Sounds like Thomas Stanley’s profile of a millionaire held true for Matt…

After the Dot Com bubble burst, Matt and his partner started writing articles about website design, html, php and other areas related to web design. Initially he gave everything away for free but one day decided to try to see if he printed and bound their advice if people would pay $35 for that service. He sold 20,000 copies of that first online book and has since sold hundreds of thousands of copies of their many books. That website is still online and profitable at Sitepoint.com.

99Designs.com was actually an accident. Matt and his co-founder of Sitepoint.com stole the idea from someone who came onto one of their forums and said, I need a logo and I’ll pay $100 to whoever designs the best one. Since Matt already had his tribe of followers, they created the website for 99Designs and it immediately took off. He tells the story in more detail in the interview so you listen to the entire interview if you want more details.

Today I finished reading Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, which is Tony Hsieh’s book about his life and how he grew LinkExchange to sell for $265 million in less than 3 years and then grew Zappos.com from zero to $1 billion in sales in 10 years. Moreover, after telling his story, he talks about his purpose in life now as CEO of Zappos.com to help other companies develop a culture of happiness like he has done with Zappos.com. For a current business owner, that final section of the book is the most interesting and valuable but is beyond the scope of this blog…

What was most interesting to me about Matt and Tony was that they were  entrepreneurs from the beginning… Tony says he was always fascinated with making money and discussed his first button-making business in middle school through his restaurant at Harvard and the businesses discussed above. One way or another, Tony was going to figure out a way to make a lot of money. And considering he’s worth a few hundred million today at the age of 36, I’d say he succeeded…. Along the way he discovered he didn’t really want or need all that money but you’ll have to read the book to fully appreciate his whole story…

Viral Loop talks about Hotmail, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and a dozen other companies that grew to hundred million or billion dollar entities in a very short time… The stories are amazing and inspirational but can also be quite detrimental… How can such remarkable stories be detrimental? Well that depends on what you learn from them.

There are nearly 13 billion websites in the world and all of the ones I’ve mentioned are in the top 1000 (99Designs.com is still relatively small but is currently ranked 2561). That’s the top .0000077% of websites. That’s a whole lot of zeroes. I point this out because none of these current businesses (aside from maybe Hotmail) had any vision of how huge they would be or how much they could potentially be worth when they got started. Why not? Because no one knows exactly what the customer wants except the customer. No one can predict exactly what is going to make money online.

If you’re an entrepreneur and starting a business and trying to create something to compete with a major online retailer keep in mind that you have a .016% chance of getting struck by lightning at some point in your life. In other words, you’re 2078 times more likely to get struck by lightning than to create a top 1,000 website. Granted, creating a major online presence is more than just luck as is getting struck by lightning, but it’s still a tough business to plan.

So let me ask you, do you have the next multi-billion dollar internet idea? Even if you did, you probably wouldn’t know it. Moreover, sometimes internet billions take $10’s of millions of dollars in funding and 3-4 years of unprofitability as Zappos.com, Yahoo.com, and Amazon.com all required. Without a millionaire such as Tony Hseih to back your idea, now what are your chances at success?

The point is you can learn a TON from these and other stories of internet riches and you should always work on those crazy ideas just in case you do have the ability to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Tom Anderson or Sergey Brin or Jeff Besos or Tony Hseih.

If going for an internet business, the chances of creating a business the size of Matt’s ($12 million dollars per year) is much better, however 99Designs.com is also a top ranked website at 2561. More importantly, it took him over 10 years to build a following so that when the idea for 99Designs.com came up, he instantly had customers and designers… That’s a long time to build a following without even knowing how you’re going to profit from them. So what can you do in the mean time to create an income and some time?

You know the answer already don’t you?

You start buying, building, and selling businesses. Every time you go through that cycle you’ll hopefully upgrade to a larger business with more cashflow. It doesn’t matter if the businesses are internet or brick-and-mortar based, either. As a matter of fact, even Tony Hseih got involved only after the original founder of Zappos proved that people were interested in buying shoes online. Buying an existing business takes out much of the guessing work that a start-up has such as:

  • Will anyone want this product?
  • How much will they be willing to pay for it?
  • At those prices can we make money?
  • Will our business model and structure prove profitable?
  • What’s the potential size of our market?
  • How easy will it be for competitors to copy me?
  • How much will staff, insurance, and overhead cost and will it all be scalable?

And on and on and on… You can’t answer a single one of those questions definitively about a start-up but with an existing business you can answer those and dozens more because someone else already has been answering those questions to stay in business. This can help you to determine more precisely what you’re getting in to and how much you can grow the business. More importantly, with creative financing, you won’t need to rely on Venture Capitalists.

The other major lesson that Tony’s book taught me was, whether you’re running a business that does $1 million or $1 billion in sales per year, the rules are the same. Tony outlines mistake after mistake that he and his leaders made at both LinkExchange and Zappos.com. As I was reading the book I was literally getting upset thinking, “No, that’s not how you run a business!” I’m not saying that because I’m better or smarter than Tony however, many, if not all, of those mistakes can be learned with a smaller business. How do I know this? Because I’ve made many of the same so when I was getting upset it was partially because I could feel his pain. 🙂

The final major lesson was that when you have a strong business model, if you can scale it and become a leader online to a worldwide market your growth is almost limitless. Figure out how to do that and I’ll be reading a book about you.

My final thoughts are simply:

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try another business
  • Learn how to build a business
  • Learn how to grow your business online
  • Keep working on those one in a billion side ideas just in case you really do have a good one

To your entrepreneurial success, Bryan

P.S. What Tony has done with his team culture, something I blogged about over 2 years ago before ever hearing of Zappos.com, is quite remarkable so you’ll be sure to learn a lot from Delivering Happiness.

Entrepreneur’s Commencement Address – 10 years after graduation

July 17th 2010 is my 10 year high school reunion. Ten years ago I was asked to give a speech at my high school graduation. Recently I’ve read a few blogs by entrepeneurs providing advice to recent graduates…  That got me thinking about what I’ve learned a decade after high school and what I’d say if giventhe opportunity today… And this time I don’t have to deal with the principal censoring me… 🙂

Ten years ago, my speech focused on the powers of the mind and positive thinking. Topics I’ve reviewed in my blog in several instances and, though those lessons are still paramount, my new speech offers a bit more “practicality”. After writing out my suggestions, I noticed I’ve written blogs to explain most points in more detail so follow the links for more clarification.

Keep in mind that a blog is much different than a speech. A blog can be read, reread, reviewed, and linked to additional information. A speech is heard only once. If given a speech I’d simply focus on 9, 11, and 13 and tell a memorable story to illustrate each…

  1. Develop good habits – We are all creatures of habit. Our eating habits, work-out habits, reading habits, education habits, relationship habits, drinking habits etc. etc. etc. ultimately form who we are. Your habits will control you. If you develop bad habits you will be fighting them for years to come.
  2. Never stop learning – Read. Attend seminars. Ask questions of your grandparents and parents and those better than you. Write and expose your thoughts to criticism. You are what you know. The difference between you and your millionaire neighbor is that he knows something you don’t and he’s taken action to do something you haven’t. Learn what he knows and then do what he does. This lesson is applicable for all professions.
  3. Always spend less than you make – This sounds simple. And it is. So do it. You don’t need ANYTHING that you can’t afford. To that I’ll add, never take out debt to pay for a toy (i.e. motorcycle, atv, jet-ski), vacation, or non-essential. In other words, ONLY take out debt for real estate, your college education, and, if you have to, your primary mode of transportation. Pay cash for everything else.
  4. Save, save, save – Now I’m bordering on preaching but Americans seem to have a serious issues with financial discipline. Get into the regular habit of saving at least 10% of your paycheck. Setup an automatic transfer to savings. When you get a raise, increase the percent you save and keep the same standard of living until you can live for 6 months entirely on your savings. Then invest.
  5. Attend every wedding you’re invited to – In the last few years I’ve attended weddings in Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Michigan, Indiana, New York, and Wisconsin. I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars travelling to these weddings and the only weddings I regret are the ones I missed in Florida and Nevada. If a friend thinks you’re important enough to invite to their wedding, you need to attend.
  6. If you’re not happy, do something else – At 10 years after High School and 5 years after college it amazes me how many of my friends wake up to jobs they hate. Promise yourself, at whatever cost, that will not be you. And if it becomes you, which is almost inevitable at some point, you’ll do everything you can to change it.
  7. Network! – Your #1 goal with attending college should be to network with as many people as possible. That includes classmates, professors, alumni and just about anyone else you bump into. Actively search out and befriend influential people. It will help you get a job, find investors, find great investments, and it’s a lot of fun. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know“, is as true now as it ever has been.
  8. Never lose touch with your friends – In the world of email, IM, texting and Facebook, there’s simply no excuse. Keep in touch with your friends. It makes the journey a lot more fun.
  9. Live today – tomorrow is never guaranteed – At every high school commencement you can stand there and say, in 10 years some of you will no longer be with us. In 10 years, some of your parents, or grandparents, or friends, or family will no longer be with us. You’re not guaranteed a 10 year reunion and your not guaranteed to have the same friends and family to celebrate with. In the words of James Dean – “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
  10. Serve God and others – TODAY! – The World Bank defines poverty as having less than $1.25 per day to spend on living expenses and they estimate more than 1.4 billion people fall below that bar. No matter where you are or what you’re doing there are people less fortunate than you in this world. While you’re at college, while you’re working through your first job and paying down debt, you’re still blessed. Don’t wait to volunteer when you have enough time. Don’t wait to donate to charity when you have more money. Give to others today and you’ll always be the better person for it.
  11. Set goals – And put them in Do x Be = Have context. According to a Yale study from 1953, the 3% of graduates who had written goals had amassed more wealth than the other 97% of classmates years after graduation.
  12. Believe in yourself – Because chances are, at times, you’ll be the only one doing so. Be confident and fearless.
  13. Take a risk – I used to travel a lot for work. Maybe 40,000 to 50,000 air miles per year and another 20,000 miles on the ground. On a flight one night, on my way home from California, it hit me. My whole life and the “success” that people had seen in it was perfectly planned. In 25 years of life, as far as I could tell, I had never taken a single risk. It was a hollow and scary feeling to think that I was limiting myself to only taking on the challenges I knew that I could accomplish. Never give yourself the opportunity to look back and say that to yourself. Learn to fail. As the book, How We Decide, by Jonah Leher points out, our minds are designed to learn more from many failures than from a few successes.
  14. Skip class when you have more educational things to do – In the words of Mark Twain, “Never let school get in the way of your education.” When you’re negotiating for a job, never forget to get as much paid vacation as possible. I always attended class unless I had something going on where I’d learn more. Sometimes that lesson was that it’s more important to go motorcycle riding with my friends than listen to a professor talk about things I could read in the book. 😉 For some reason, that’s a lesson I’ve never forgot.

If I could sum these 14 points up in a single sentence it would be simply, figure out a way to do what you love with the people you love and everything else will take care of itself.

Lucky for you, my speech is much shorter than it was 10 years ago. These are a few of the important lessons I’ve learned. God-willing, in another 10 years, I’ll be able to review my thoughts again.

To your life-success, Bryan

Visualizations – The good, the bad, the ugly…

My last blog mentioned some ineffective visualization techniques however that in no way discredits visualizations overall… The “poor” visualization technique referenced was for problem solving. Here’s a quick example. Let’s say you lost your keys. Which visualization technique is going to be more beneficial?

  1. Visualize the future and how finding your keys is going to make your life better and easier and relieve stress.
  2. Visualize the past to determine the last place you recall having your keys through the point at which you knew they were missing.

Simple test, right? Obviously the second method is going to work and the first is completely worthless because how in the world is that going to help you? It won’t.

Since this is a business blog, let’s project that into our realm. Is visualizing something abstract like “getting rich” or “being successful” or “being happy in life” any different? Well you can imagine what it’s like to be all or some of those things, however how does that help you achieve them? As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t.

Visualizations work in limited scenarios and here they are:

  1. To train your brain and in turn your body to get better at a physical task. There is a great article in Psychology Today that explains the studies that have been done to back this up. In one study, Dr. Guang Yue had average people start weight training by going to the gym daily and had another group weight train by visualizing training every day. The group who went to the gym increased muscle mass by 30% however the group who simply visualized weight training increased muscle mass by 13.5%! Just by using their minds!
  2. To problem solve (by visualizing the past or present). As I mentioned in the example above to find your keys. This can be used to solve all sorts of problems from improving your next lap at the racetrack by reviewing where you were slow on your last lap, to improving code you’ve written for a computer program.
  3. To create something entirely new. In other words, visualizing a design, idea, or invention that hasn’t yet been created to help determine how all the parts, components and pieces will fit together. This obviously doesn’t guarantee a perfect design, but can help.
  4. To motivate yourself. Visualizing the wicked burnouts you’re gonna be doing in your new ZR1 or how the sand is going to feel between your toes when you make that month-long trip through the Mediterranean are definitely motivators. When your mind feels that a dream or goal is that close to being a reality it helps motivate you to trudge through the difficulties of today to get there.

That’s a relatively short list and so is certainly incomplete, so it’s probably more important to point out the main weakness of visualizations:

Visualizations haven’t been proven to help solve problems by visualizing your feelings or circumstances once the problem is solved. Self-help guru’s would have you believe that visualizing anything can make you produce it. In one part of The Secret a wealthy gentleman tells a story about realizing a house he’d been visualizing years before was in-fact the house he was living in now. He hadn’t even realized it until he found this picture years later. That sounds like a powerful testimonial for visualizing “being rich” or “successful”, but it’s a lot more specific and really falls into #4 above. Even that may be a bit questionable, though because he couldn’t be visualizing that one too regularly or you think he would have remembered it, right?

To clarify a beneficial visualization from a worthless one, consider the study above where people visualized lifting weights and gained 13.5% more muscle. If instead they visualized being ripped or how it would feel to walk on the beach with their perfect new body do you think it would have made a difference? I don’t think so either. That’s obviously the equivalent of visualizing wealth and happiness. It’s too abstract and therefore worthless.

I just added The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynn McTaggart to my Amazon wish list so I’m still keeping an open mind. Maybe McTaggart will present me with some evidence to prove that “The Force” does indeed exist and that you can simply “think things into existence” as the self-help guru’s preach. Until then, I’m going the way of Michael Jordan and skipping the daily affirmations and the visualizations of success.

To your success, Bryan

Direct Response vs. Institutional Marketing – Which is your small business trying?

Marketing in a basic sense is broken down into 2 main categories: Institutional Marketing and Direct Response Marketing.

What I am personally fanatical about tracking is the results to direct response marketing. By that I simply mean that if I send out a post card, create a website, or insert a piece in a newspaper, I want to know exactly how much revenue those marketing pieces generated for me. As a small business (i.e. you don’t have $100 million dollar ad budgets) this is the ONLY type of marketing you should be focused on.

Major corporations, however, invest in very sophisticated very expensive institutional marketing programs. By that I simply mean that hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to create a recognizable name, character, and/or slogan. More importantly, that advertising has created a position in people’s minds ideally relating the name, character, or slogan to their brand unlike any of their competitors are able to do. Once you have that position you never want to give it up because changing an already established position can create confusion in the prospects mind and it gives room for a competitor to take over that position. Along these precise lines, I recommend a great book written by Al Ries and Jack Trout called Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Ries and Trout give example after example of businesses like Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Michelob, Miller, Avis and others who did and did not understand their positioning and how that affected their long-term profits. Some have messed it up horribly.

Camel cigarettes had deep enough pockets and understood the power of institutional marketing, branding, and positioning so well that more 5 year-olds in the previous generation could identify Joe Camel than Mickey Mouse. Obviously 5 year-olds can’t buy cigarettes so why do they want 5 year-olds to know Joe Camel? Because in a decade when teenagers start getting exposed to smoking by peers, whether they consciously understand it or not, Joe Camel has made a position in their mind that’s not easily forgotten. If you have a small business, you can’t possibly afford to do this. You need to pay your bills and make payroll this week, you don’t have a decade to build a position.

There are, however, 2 main “small-business” exceptions to the rule that small-businesses shouldn’t engage in institutional marketing. Both of these industries can successfully invest in a combination of institutional and direct-response marketing.

  1. Banks – In your lifetime, you are more likely to get divorced than change banks. For some reason, banks have customer retention rates somewhere in the high 90% range. My mother told me that when she moved across the country, married my father, and they started a family, the ladies at the bank were some of the first people who she would show her babies too. That sounds rather strange to me, but it makes sense. Any good marketing is about developing relationships and any bank worth it’s salt is going to train their tellers to do just that. If their good at it, it’s just natural that their customers would know all about their “favorite teller” and vice-versa. After all, it’s a very intimate relationship as that teller knows quite a bit about you that your best friends and family will never know. So how can banks invest in institutional marketing? I would suggest in the same way that Joe Camel did. Target children. If you know that you’ll have a 90% plus retention rate, it’s a race to see who can get that first checking account setup for the first job, right? Well what if you deposited $5 in an account for each middle school or high school student who came to the bank with an A on their report card? It may take a decade or longer before that pays off, but you’re almost guaranteed to keep that child as a customer as they need a car loan, house loan, student loans etc. etc. etc. At least you’re more likely to get those accounts from that child than you are to attend their 50 year anniversary.
  2. Franchises – Obviously this is one of the benefits of a great franchise. Yes, of course, their are franchises that are downright terrible and the name isn’t worth a whole lot. However their are others that have been established for so long and have invested so much money in marketing over decades that their name is extremely valuable. This week I was speaking with a colleague who owns a franchise that’s one of the top 300 most recognizable names in marketing and has no competitor recognition in the top 1000 names. Their tag line has been known and marketed for decades. The business is a Culligan water dealership and the tag line is obviously “Hey Culligan Man.” Prior to his current business, he owned an independent pizza joint. In addition to loathing the late hours required at a pizza shop, he said it’s nearly impossible to make money when you’re competing with the big name pizza places like Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, and Domino’s. Even when you have a great product, which he did. All 3 of those pizza franchises have the resources to invest in both institutional and direct-response marketing. Each month without fail, I will get a postcard with the latest specials from each of those 3 pizza franchises. Why? They want me to cut out a coupon and take action right now to buy their pizza. Obviously they also invest a lot in commercials, websites, radio ads, sponsorships and other items that don’t generate a “direct-response” for them, however, it does help them create a position in their prospect’s mind so that when she starts thinking of pizza, they pop into her head.

So if you have a small business, what should you do? The answers is very simple, invest all of your marketing budget in direct-response advertising. If you decided to go the route of being an independent franchisee, you’ll obviously benefit from the institutional marketing your franchisor does on your behalf. However if you have any control over your own marketing dollars, you better make sure that every dollar that you spend in marketing is coming back with friends. In other words, with the use of micro-sites, web analytics, coupons, call-tracking phone numbers, and plain-old asking people (though you do always have to be skeptical of their answers) you should do your best to determine exactly which marketing investments bring money to your business.

In my business I’ve tested radio, direct-mail, newspaper, websites, Google Adwords, yellow pages, local sponsorships, home shows, and just about everything else. Over 2 years I’ve tracked the results of each item and today can, with very high certainty, know approximately how many dollars of revenue I’ll bring in for my best marketing projects. For my business, newspaper (which was literally the last thing I decided to test because I thought it was dying) has out performed everything else even though there are still some profits to be made with home shows and direct mail if done properly.

So what does that mean to me? I’m going to put as much of my marketing budget into newspaper marketing as possible as often as possible until it stops working. Do you know what marketing projects can produce those results for your business? If you stop investing in institutional marketing and start investing in direct-response marketing, you will.

To your direct response marketing success, Bryan

P.S. If you’re looking for a great book on the subject and some more details on what numbers you should track with your marketing, check out my blog about Claude C. Hopkin’s book Scientific Advertising.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

You have to absolutely love books that get you thinking in new and creative ways and Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, will do just that… Particularly if you, in some capacity, work in marketing or perform marketing functions at your business (which should be everyone who owns a business).

His premise at it’s core is very simple – little details can have a huge impact on results. For instance, he talks about a study done on a college campus designed to encourage students to get vaccinated for tetanus. Various groups of students were given 2 different pamphlets explaining the consequences of not getting vaccinated. One pamphlet was designed to be “high fear” including graphic pictures and dramatic descriptions. The “low fear” version had the descriptions toned down and no photographs were used. The study seemingly was trying to determine the power of “fear in marketing” which can incite quite the debate in marketing circles. Afterward the students were given a survey and, predictably, the “high fear” group said they were more convinced of the dangers of tetanus and were more likely to get inoculated. However when they checked the records at the Health Center a month later, a mere 3% actually got the shot. If they understood the dangers, why weren’t they moved to action???

The researchers considered what Gladwell calls the “Stickiness Factor”, kept the copy the same with the addition of a map to the Health Center (which all the students most likely already knew the location of), along with the dates and times vaccinations were available. That minor change, to an already 7-page report, tipped the conversion rate up to 28%!

If your mind is anything like mine, the possibilities of implementing such minor changes into your marketing with the power for such drastic results makes you giddy. 😀

Gladwell’s entire book outlines examples and case studies that demonstrate the fundamental pieces of an idea that make it go “viral” in the sense that Adam Penenberg discusses in Viral Loop. The beauty of Gladwell’s research, though, is how he directly applies it and teaches you the exact pieces necessary to create your own “Tipping Point” idea. That level of detail, sophistication, and education is certainly something that is missing from Penenberg’s book as he required the reader to analyze the information to draw his own conclusions.

From Sesame Street to Blues Clues to W.L. Gore Inc to Columbia House records and even Paul Revere (yeah, the guy who we all know said “the British are coming” yet for reasons that are easily explained, we’ve never heard of his partner who rode off in the same direction at the same time with the same message but who failed to rally the troops), Gladwell does a terrific job of getting the creative juices flowing on how you can improve every aspect of your marketing.

For any idea that breaches the Tipping Point, Gladwell informs us that 3 people are necessary:

  1. Salesman – Just as the name implies, they persuade us to buy a certain product or take a certain course of action and the great ones do it in remarkably subtle, non-verbal, and positive ways.
  2. Mavens – Do seemingly ridiculous amounts of research on products and services along with EVERY competitive product or service so that you trust when they tell you to buy something they know what they’re talking about. The crazy part is they just do it to be helpful. It’s how they’re wired.
  3. Connectors – The quintessential socialites. They know everyone and therefore can connect a product or idea to vast amounts of people very quickly.

This is just brushing the surface. If you’re looking for some inspiration and great ideas to market your product, service, and business whether in your local neighborhood or worldwide, you’ll enjoy The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

When you consider that Gladwell’s examples and research covered everything from educating children to effective group sizes for optimal communication (150 people), the value of his material actually extends far beyond business marketing to education, healthcare, leadership, even politics. When you can appreciate and understand a few pieces in the way humans interact, it’s amazing how powerful a tool that can be for you to get almost any message across. And more importantly to get people to act on that message.

To your Tipping Point success, Bryan

How do I change the culture in my office or business?

A friend of mine just emailed me today to let me know he’s just been promoted, is now taking on a much larger leadership role where he works, and sales are doing well BUT he’s having ‘people’ issues.

Well who isn’t, right? 🙂 All businesses have issues with unproductive, combative, and poor-communicating employees. But before you can address how to fix those problems, you need to know why people are that way. It’s my firm belief that the vast majority of people don’t want to suck at their job. If that’s the case, why do so many businesses have so many personnel issues?

Here’s a quick litmus test to see if your business is creating personnel issues or you just happen to have a few bad eggs.

Personally I’m not a big fan of the term “managers” as “managers manage resources and leaders lead people”. A hundred little things, like your titles, added together form a culture for your team and team members (not employees) that can affect everything about your culture, including financial results. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so I’ll get more into what’s required of a leader in number 4.

  1. The first step is defining the culture you want… Mine is literally called our “14 Points of Culture” that set the ground work for our team expectations. While you’re laying the ground work for your team and culture, you may already have a Vision and Mission statement, but if not, that’s foundational so create that as well.
  2. From there you need to develop a Team Organizational Structure chart with the hierarchy of the leaders in your business. Keep in mind that the 3 points on a successful business triangle are made up of Sales/Marketing, Finance/Administration, and Service/Operations so your Team Structure should make sure someone is excellent at each of those things and has the supporting team to get better. At it’s most basic level, your Organizational Chart would include a Team Leader (CEO) above the Sales/Marketing Leader, Finance/Administration Leader, and Service/Operations Leader who all report to the Team Leader. Underneath each of those leaders will be their supporting teams. Keep in mind that the Team Leader should always dedicate half of his time to sales/marketing and the other half of his time to everything else!
  3. Create job descriptions for every position in your Team Organizational Structure. The descriptions should include expectations, benefits, Key Performance Indicators and benchmarks tied to incentives. No one on your team should ever be able to say “I don’t know what’s expected of me or how to do my job well.” More importantly, you must fit each team member’s skill-sets and passions into the position that will best allow her to express those passions.
  4. Now you start changing the culture by actively leading your team. You provide opportunities for open communication like regular team meetings (even going to the point of picking fights between people and departments). You provide regular and consistent feedback with quarterly performance reviews based on the 12 Questions Marcus Buckingham outlined in First, Break All the Rules. You rearrange your offices according to the rules of proximity. Make sure each of your leaders knows how to use NLP and then train your people. When you come up with new products, ideas, promotions, etc. you work hard to provide systems, procedures, scripts and all the pieces your people need to be successful at implementing new programs. You develop a culture of innovation by requiring people to come up with new ideas without fear of reprisal for “bad” ideas that don’t materialize… And rewards for the ideas that do yield results. You ensure that your leaders all develop relationships with their team members because the most important factor in employee satisfaction is an employee’s relationship with his direct superior.
  5. The fifth piece is probably the hardest, yet most important. You fire, let go, or force out the people who don’t fit into your culture, vision, structure, or job descriptions. You get rid of the people who aren’t contributing to the team and culture immediately. The lost time and energy in trying to “fix” them can almost never be recouped. However, if you haven’t provided for them an environment to succeed (with all of the 5 pieces), you’ll really have no idea if they’re good or not because you haven’t defined the rules of the game, yet. If you’re the leader or manager, this is your responsibility. If your leader or manager isn’t providing this type of atmosphere, maybe you should read my last blog on moving on.

Obviously I just presented a whole lot of ideas and pieces that make up a complex problem in a rather succinct manner. The myriad links throughout this blog will provide additional details on certain topics, however don’t try to make this TOO complex. Problems that are TOO complex get pushed to the back-burner, avoided, and ultimately never solved. Take these 5 pieces at relative face value, work on each of them, and enjoy the results.

For further resources, I recommend the following 3 books to help you change your culture:

  1. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham
  2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
  3. Instant Team Building by Brad Sugars

To your culture-creating success, Bryan

P.S. Though it should go without saying, before you do anything else you should foster a highly ethical business environment. Without an ethical foundation, everything else will be overshadowed.

Knowing when to “move-on”, drop everything, and do something else

It is much harder to leave security than it is to take a risk.

In Thomas Stanley’s book, The Millionaire Next Door, he points out that the profile of your average millionaire generally includes getting FIRED from his previous job and starting his own business. That’s right, the ultra-risk-taking macho entrepreneur millionaire you know generally became successful because, quite literally, he had no other option. Of course their are the guys, like me, who seemed to have everything going well but that just wasn’t enough and we had to venture out on our own and forge our own paths in business and in life. But don’t kid yourself, that give-up-something-great-to-get-something-better mentality is the VAST exception.

Keep that in mind the next time you’re reading a book or blog by a successful person who just happens to be in the minority who was just naturally programmed to never accept “good enough”. If that’s not you, you need to learn how to get over your current “security” in order to venture out on a “risk”. (I put both of those in quotes because they’re often not reality, but just figments of our imagination.)

So for the majority of people who have a job, house, family, car payments and a steady income, how do you decide to make the jump and take the risk of leaving your steady paycheck behind and trying something else?

  1. Risk-taking is just a lack of knowledge. – If buying a business, writing a book, starting a band, quitting your job to take a new one or just being the first one at your work to try a ground-breaking new idea seems like a risk to you, then you simply need to study more. You need to make sure you understand how to take that business to a level of profitability before you buy it. You need to know how to effectively market your book or band and develop a following. You need to know that you have options for your livelihood before you tell your boss off and walk away (something I never recommend). And if you’re simply trying to get everyone at work to get out of their rut and change, you better be able to back-up your reason for the change with some hard evidence as you’ll undoubtedly be met with nay-sayers. Whatever it is, you can always trace an increase in risk to a lack of knowledge on the subject matter and vice-versa. Let me make this even more clear. If you consider a “standard” medical operation like removing an appendix as safe, would you consider the same operation under the same conditions safe if it was performed by your plumber? What’s the difference? The risk is mitigated when the procedure is undertaken by a knowledgeable doctor.
  2. Hedge your bet. – One of the cardinal rules of marketing is ONLY the consumer knows if the marketing is effective or not. They vote on their choice for great marketing by spending money. The same is true in almost any venture where you’re going out on your own. You really don’t KNOW that your customers, readers, listeners or coworkers are going to love the idea until it’s out there, right? Well then, in addition to becoming knowledgeable, make sure you have a backup plan… Or 2 or 3. Of course we all know of the stories of people overcoming impossible odds to make their ideas work. Heck, the entire 3m success can be built on the concept of passionate people overcoming all odds to bring their ideas to fruition. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore. Albert Einstein’s first 2 graduate thesis’ were rejected. A successful business owner friend of mine told me he was turned down by 27 banks before finding one who would loan him money for his first business. My point is not to throw the towel in because of adversity. My point is that consumers are impossible to predict, so if you’re going to bet the farm on an untried idea, you better have a few tried and true ideas in your back pocket to fall back on. Most entrepreneurs you speak with will tell you about their myriad failures that were necessary before becoming successful. They always had another plan and another way to succeed. Even at 3m where a culture of risk-taking and never accepting no is programmed into the culture, everyone knows there’s little risk of losing your job for pursuing that passionate idea. In other words, 3m developed that culture with a built-in hedged bet to encourage innovation.
  3. What is your time worth? – Though this is third item, this one is the most important. Most people grossly over-estimate what they’re capable of in a year but also grossly under-estimate what they’re capable of in 10 years. So what does that mean? We are likely to set goals for the next year that are unreachable but then either not set goals for longer-term or set drastically underestimated goals. If you always spend less than you make, you will never run out of money. But no matter what you do, you will run out of time. So how do you determine if you’re going to stay at your current job, position, or business? If you’re learning on a regular basis from those around you AND your given an opportunity to express your own talents and ideas then stay. The former is more important than the latter, but you should be able to do both. Keep in mind that you should be learning things that you couldn’t otherwise learn on your own. Notice, I did not say that you have fun at work or you have a reasonable wage with lots of perks. Those temporary benefits are important for someone who will live forever and so has plenty of time to find something better later on. However, if you’re not immortal, and you’re not learning at work on a regular basis, it’s time to move on. The reason for this is because with the knowledge you can be learning at an underpaying job, you can leverage that at your next job, business, or passion. That’s why people underestimate what they’re capable of in 10 years. It’s sometimes challenging for us to step outside of our situation today, whether good or bad, and view it as a step forward or backward in our 10 year goals because we’re just trying to make it day-to-day.

If after evaluating your situation, you’ve now determined that it’s most likely time to move-on, check out a few of my other blogs that might help you get started:

The most important life lesson, and the key to success…

Why not?

The first 3 steps to becoming wealthy

To your success, Bryan

P.S. If the concept of setting 10-year, or even 1-year, goals is a bit foreign to you, check out my blog on The 3 steps to become successful at anything