Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

Living a Life without Regrets – Finding Your Purpose(s) at Each Stage of Life

In August 2010 it was a long day riding my Yamaha FZ1 through big sky country in Montana from a tiny, campground just south of Glacier National Park to Yellowstone National Park. The air was quite brisk in the early evening at my camping spot as I setup my portable “pup” tent at over 8,000 feet and then had to jump back on my sportbike for a short ride down to the public showers.

My bike outside of Death Valley NP. FYI: Don’t ever ride thru Death Valley in August!

With all of my camping and heavy riding gear left behind, it’s amazing how much lighter (and exposed) you instantly feel with the cool, high-elevation air cutting through thin layers of clothing.

As I’m dismounting my motorcycle at the public shower, a minivan pulls up next to me. The mom quickly gets out, followed by 3 cute, blonde-haired “mini-mes” of their mother in a frenzy of giggles and activity.

The father walks around the back and then just stands there. Literally, and a bit awkwardly, staring at me gathering up my toiletries.

“Nice bike,” is how it always starts.
“Thanks.”
Struggling to continue the conversation, “Where did you ride from?”

Not one to miss the opportunity to share my epic adventure, I obliged the small talk. “Just south of Glacier last night but I’ve done the whole west coast starting in New Mexico, riding across to California and then north along the Pacific Highway almost to Canada. Do you ride?”
“I used to ride dirtbikes but had to get rid of them,” as he glanced back towards his minivan, his wife straining to let him enjoy his memories while not interrupting to ask him for some much-needed help.

Then it came as predictable as the sun rising in the east, “Do it while you’re young.”

The last time I’d heard that was just a few short hours earlier as I stopped to take some pictures in Northern Yellowstone at a scenic overlook.

It had become a bit of a disturbing joke to me. Since I was riding alone, there was no one else to share it with, but it was always a bit depressing because what was unsaid was much more important than what was said…

“Do it while you’re young… or you’ll never get to do it at all.”

Ouch. How depressing.

Never could I imagine the day that I didn’t regularly yearn for the thrill of a motorcycle.

Whether at the track or on a trip to the grocery store, for almost a decade I only rode motorcycles and drove sports cars while changing my address over 22 different times and moving between 8 different states.

Then, my son was born and it all changed.
Instantly.

My main modes of transportation shifted from a Buell 1125R and a Camaro 2SS 1LE to a rusty 15 year old Chevy pickup for a child seat to fit in the back.

The pickup was because, I reasoned, at least I’d have a vehicle to transport my bike to the track for the occasional track day. Two years later and still no track days.

But it wasn’t because there weren’t any opportunities to ride.
My wife gave me plenty of leeway to go ride if I wanted to.

I simply don’t want to give up my time with my family.

How to live without regrets

We all have purposes in life. Unfortunately, most people talk about “a purpose.” Something singular.

This is doing you a huge disservice. No one has “a purpose”.

We all have many purposes.
Each stage of your life has a different set of purposes.

As a student, my “purpose” in life was to learn. Learn to become the best engineer possible, learn to interact with people from all walks of life, learn leadership, learn to struggle, learn to overcome tough exams with minimal sleep, and learn to come together with a group of friends to achieve seemingly insurmountable tasks with no money and diets of Taco Bell.

As a young graduate, now in the real world, my purpose was to find my professional calling and passion. Learn how I could impact the most lives and generate the greatest value in the world. For me, my purpose was to find, buy, run or start a business and I clearly understood that I wanted to achieve enough financial success to support a future family.

My other purpose was to enjoy life to its fullest by exploring the world which often involved motorcycle and car trips to over 2-dozen national parks along with any other adrenaline-inducing adventure I could find. At one point, I flew to Australia to look at buying a business on 3-days notice.

In my mid-20’s and early 30’s those were my purposes and I lived them fully.

Now, in my mid-30’s it’s to spend time with my young, growing family.

The secret to not having any regrets?

Live out your full purposes at the right time in your life.

What happens when you mix-up the timing of your purposes?
You have a mid-life crisis.

When you’ve enjoyed adventures when you have little responsibility and few bills, you don’t feel that you’ve missed anything when responsibility and bills inevitably come along,

When you feel like you’ve missed out on some of that adventure because you got married too young or started having a family before you were ready, you turn 50 and buy a Corvette.

Far be it for me to ever disparage someone from wanting a Corvette. I bought a Z06 in my early 30’s and hated it. It was simply unusable as it couldn’t make it over a speedbump without painful grinding. Been there, done that.

Now when I’m playing toy cars with my son, I’m not thinking, man, will I ever have that Corvette?

Of course not everyone buys a Corvette. Maybe you buy a $2,000 purse, get plastic surgery, buy a Harley, or insist on a fancy vacation your family can’t afford.

Maybe you have an affair (or fantasize about it), get divorced and then run around, or just become depressed as you realize your youthful energy, beauty, and naivete aren’t coming back.

Certainly, treating yourself to an expensive gift isn’t wrong.

But if you’re doing it to “make-up for” something you missed before, you’ll quickly realize the new purchase depresses you when you finally admit that you can’t stand the Corvette scraping the ground when pulling into your driveway.

Don’t play catch-up with your dreams

A sure fire way to never be happy and content with life is to continually try to catch-up with “missed opportunities”.

Recently I asked a friend with a growing brood of grandchildren if he had any regrets raising his own kids as I was hoping to not make the same mistakes myself.

His answer was that he wished he’d spent more time with his children when they were all very young instead of relying so much on his wife to handle everything.

If you currently have a young family, they are your purpose. Loving, serving, teaching and being with them.

That certainly doesn’t mean you can’t do other things, but the last thing you want to do is give up that time with them to fulfill missed dreams and desires from your youth. Trying to chase those old dreams will simply result in you missing your purpose in the current stage of your life.

That’s a vicious cycle.

As your children age and go off to college, you’ll once again regret missing your purpose and then have a hard time letting go.

If you want to live a life without regrets, determine clearly your purposes for this stage of your life, prioritize them and live them fully.

To fulfilling your ever-changing purposes,
Bryan

Can you boil down your business strategy to one sentence?

A few days ago I was talking to a school teacher friend about my several businesses…

Business Brokerage
Google Adwords Lead Generation
12-Month Business Tune-up

She was amazed at how many hundreds or thousands of dollars people would pay for me to help them with any of those things. The idea that a business would be willing to pay $100 or $200 for a lead that MAY become a new customer was a bit hard for her to swallow.

The thought that someone would pay thousands of dollars for a SYSTEM to consistently generate web leads made more sense.

The fact that savvy business people will regularly spend thousands of dollars for a business coach to provide “advice” seemed like a fantasy to someone working in public education.

“How can you get people to pay that much money!?”

My answer is one simple sentence…

I always deliver several times more value to my clients than they pay me.

She still didn’t quite follow “value” so I broke it down with a bit more detail:

As long as I can increase sales, decrease costs, or increase the business owner’s time (the most valuable item of all) more than they are paying for my help, they’ll gladly pay and tell their friends about it.

Wouldn’t you?

When I was in college I attended a speech by a corporate America CEO who had a different way of expressing his goal for delivering value to his company. He said:

My goal was to always be the most underpaid employee of the company where I worked… And also be the highest paid employee.

I attended dozens and dozens of similar seminars in college and I still remember that concept… If you can do the same for your Business-to-Business clients, you’ll always have a thriving business and ecstatic clients.

To Your Success, Bryan

P.S. If you can’t already, it’s time you boil down your Unique Selling Proposition to a single sentence. Contact me for a list of the 4 questions you need to ask yourself to create that USP.

300 businesses failed in NYC for this reason…

Brooklyn Heights PromenadeAt my job I get to talk to all kinds of interesting people from all over North America and on Tuesday (2/5/08) I spoke with a gentleman in NY who used to be a consultant with 300 clients in NYC.

At one point I made the comment that, “one of the problems I see in businesses is that people who can install water softeners think that means they’re going to be good at running a water softening business – and that’s just not true.”

The consultant said “That’s exactly right!”

Me: “It’s just like Michael Gerber talks about in the The E-Myth

Consultant: “What book? by who?”

After giving him a brief explanation of the book, the author, and emailing him a list of 12 books I recommend for improving profits, he begins to tell me a story.

He said that he had a consulting business in New York City with 300 clients who all eventually failed because not one of them would take the time to make a simple business plan. He talked about one client in particular who had a great business of singing telegrams (I believe that’s what he said) that was growing fast and she wanted to expand to other cities. However she refused to make a business plan so the consultant did for her. He showed her that she would never make money at her current prices and needed to increase them. She claimed she knew her costs and could make money and stayed in business for quite a while out of sheer determination. She eventually folded, has a “normal” job, and is in a huge amount of debt because of that business venture.

The fact that 300 out of 300 business owners were “technicians” in their start-up businesses and they all failed because they didn’t know how to work on their businesses instead of just in them is no real surprise. After all, Gerber told us all about that.

What shocked me was that a business consultant hadn’t read a single book out of my varied list of 12 recommended business books. The list included at least 4 best sellers and the The E-Myth Revisited in particular was rated as the #1 business book by Inc. 500 CEOs.

Granted, this consultant turned businessman seems to be doing very well with his current venture and must have an amazing sales presentation as he sells his equipment for at least 50% more than any other similar business that I’ve encountered in all of North America. That takes at least a little skill.

The other thing that strikes me as funny is that a good mechanical engineer friend from college decided to get a MBA. I obviously chose to dive head-first into the business world to learn instead. He claims that the primary goal of a business is to acquire customers – I argued that the primary goal of a business is to make a profit. Sounds like that lady might have gone through the same business classes since she had plenty of customers – and seemed to forget about profit…

What do you think about the consultant? About MBA programs teaching that customers are the primary goal of every business? Of my crazy affinity for books? lol

To your success, Bryan

BTW – I’ve since changed my opinion on the primary goals of a business with some insights from Built to Last.