3 WAYS TO BE THE CEO OF YOUR OWN LIFE

3 WAYS TO BE THE CEO OF YOUR OWN LIFE

I’m the CEO of a leading digital marketing company with over 800 employees in 21 offices worldwide, but that’s not my most important role. My most important role is something more personal: being the CEO of my own life.

You have as much control over your own life and success as a CEO has over the success of his or her company — often even more. You have the ability and power to make decisions in every area of your life. You are responsible for your happiness, your friendships, and your job. If you don’t like them and want to change them — you can.

Often, people do not take as much of a conscious, organized approach when it comes to managing their personal lives as they do their professional lives. They let others control their life, success, and happiness. This is a missed opportunity.

The most important skill I use as CEO (the most important skill for any CEO) is the ability to execute and get things done. You need to master this same skill as CEO of your own life. In life, as in business, I have to base my actions on my vision for the future. Here are three ways to make yourself the CEO of your own life and to master execution.

1. Define Your Vision

Having a clear vision not only determines how you act, but it also gives those actions meaning. While executives understand that organizations need a vision and a purpose, many people don’t realize that their own lives require the same driving factors.

While details like your career and your relationship may reflect aspects of your personality, they don’t make up your vision for your life. One of the reasons some people have difficulty when they retire or change careers is that they feel lost and struggle to find their identities.

Understanding your vision of yourself and your purpose is vital. Once you determine your vision, it’s much easier to determine the actions you must take to fulfill that vision. If, for example, your vision is to serve your community, you will view the other facets of your life through that lens, from how you spend your time to how you spend your money.

2. Take Action

Once your vision has been firmly established, it will guide your actions in a meaningful way. If you’re going to get anywhere, you’ve got to take that first step.

Taking action is not easy; you will have to overcome fear, doubt, and quite possibly rejection. To successfully execute and be the CEO of your own life, you must have the ability to feel fear and do it anyway.

It can be simple and straightforward: It just needs to be a step. There is no wrong action as long as it moves you closer to your vision. If you want to be an artist, take an art class. If you want to start a business, go do the research. If you want to write a book, write the first sentence.

The only way you will ever realize your vision is to take action. And the more you relate your actions to your vision, the more fulfilled you will feel. While it’s more comfortable to take the easy path and put your dreams on hold, don’t hide in the safety of settling. Great things can happen only when you step outside your comfort zone.

When I lost my first job in my early 20s, it would certainly have been easier to seek security as an employee at another tech company. But my vision was to create a life with freedom and control. After feeling unable to control my own destiny when my first company went bankrupt, this vision drove me to become an entrepreneur and allowed me to overcome my fears about doing so. I moved to Hawaii, where I worked at my kitchen table until all hours of the night and built a company that grew to over $100 million in annual revenue. My vision not only dictated my actions, but it also gave them the meaning that carried me through long hours and myriad doubts.

3. Audit Your Life

CEOs have to pay attention to all aspects of their businesses, and being the CEO of your life is no different. You need to evaluate all facets of your life and make changes where necessary. One of the most important factors contributing to your success or failure is the people you surround yourself with.

To be successful, you must build healthy, inspiring, and supportive relationships. Life is a team sport — you cannot do it alone. And who wants to? I would not be where I am today without all the people who have helped and supported me along the way. Building these relationships is not just a cornerstone to execution: It’s an integral part of success on all fronts of life.

The more you surround yourself with people who drain your energy or foster doubt, the less you are called to step into your true potential. The more you surround yourself with amazing people, the more you’re called to step into your greatness. I consciously make a point of spending more time with people who challenge, motivate, inspire, and support me and less time with people who drain my energy.

An organization is only as good as the people in it, and the same is true for your personal life. Other people influence us more than we like to imagine; their ideas, attitudes, and beliefs affect us both consciously and unconsciously.

Just as in a corporate team, surrounding yourself with the wrong people can mean the difference between success and failure. Build a personal culture of support, learning, and authenticity, just as you would do when creating a company culture. Jim Rohn famously said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with, and I agree wholeheartedly.

Every year, I conduct an audit of the people in my life and who I am spending the most time with. Are they beneficial or detrimental? Are they neutral? Then I optimize my time to spend more of it with the positive influences and minimize my association with the negative influences. As the CEO of your own life, you have the ability to promote or demote the people you surround yourself with. This one action has had a huge impact on my success and my ability to continually execute.

Taking control of your life and making sure that your actions reflect your vision is necessary in the fast-paced, distraction-filled world we live in. Become the CEO of your life, and create the life you dream of.

 

 

 


HOW WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS CAN USE EXECUTION FOR STARTUP SUCCESS

HOW WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS CAN USE EXECUTION FOR STARTUP SUCCESS

Women still receive only 7 percent of U.S. venture capital funding, but there’s one tool at their disposal they must master to be successful.

Women are making huge strides in the workplace. Although only has created massive opportunities that shove gender bias aside, by empowering and enabling all entrepreneurs (especially the female segment) to do what they’re passionate about. The sharing economy, the freelance “gig” economy, the emergence of “solopreneurs”: this is the future. But women have to act on it.

Related: 5 Powerful Rules for Women Entrepreneurs to Live By

In that regard, I’ve found that, as a female entrepreneur, I have a particular skill that has helped me overcome gender bias and act on these opportunities: execution.

Throughout 15 years as a female founder, investor in more than 60 startups and CEO, I’ve learned that execution is the one skill every entrepreneur has to master to be successful. Here’s how you can master it, too:

1. Set goals to maintain your focus.

When the going gets tough, focus on a specific goal for motivation. Visualization is one powerful tool that works here. Before I sold my business in 2014, I wrote down my sales-date goal and some ideas on who would acquire us, and taped it to my bathroom mirror.

More than nine months later, the deal closed, and I sold my company for $235 million. Not everyone uses a note on a mirror, but people like Jim Carrey and the late Muhammad Ali have been famous proponents of visualization. The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors has noted that 82 percent of small business owners who use visual goal-setting tools from the outset of their businesses achieve more than half of those initial goals.

Other evidence exists that writing goals down works: Cartoonist Scott Adams repeatedly wrote his career goal down 15 consecutive times a day for months until he reached it. And to-do list trends, like that of keeping a bullet journal (using paper and pen instead of online tools) are gaining steam among those who find visualizing their workloads helpful. Notebook company Moleskine, whose products are used for bullet journals, is bringing in profits double what the company saw just five years ago.

2. Embrace sacrifice and rejection.

Success comes only if the idea is worth suffering for. Entrepreneurs work extreme hours and spend huge swaths of their finances just to get their ideas off the ground. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, faced rejection after rejection when she started her company, but after two years of talking to department store customers, saw her business take off. She’s now a billionaire.

According to Gallup, is worth sacrificing for. After setting simple, clearly defined goals, start making moves.

Take one action, no matter how small. Once the ball is rolling, you’ll find it easier to reach the ultimate goal.

Related: Why Women Entrepreneurs Have a Harder Time Finding Funding

3. Turn hardships into opportunities for resilience.

Any successful person knows success is built on failure. She (or he) can ramble off a dozen times things that higher levels of estrogen in the female brain make it better able to deal with chronic stress.

The first year I started my own company, we couldn’t afford an automated backup system for our database of clients; one weekend, the entire database got erased. I was mortified but eventually recovered all the missing data from every one of our clients and invested in a backup plan.

Women also tend to be more humble about their achievements: NPR reported on a research collaboration between professors from the University of North Carolina and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The research estimated that if women had the same level of confidence as men, the number of projects they would launch after an initial failure would increase by 33 percent.

4. Form relationships that demand your best.

Never underestimate the potential of being around someone who demands your very best. The late motivational speaker Jim Rohn said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, invest in people and relationships that offer motivation, inspiration, productive challenge and support.

Spend time with positive people who are hard-working, inquisitive and able to dream big. These are the 85 percent of the success of an average person who’s “made it” in terms of monetary success is owing to his or her people skills. Only 15 percent can be attributed to technical skills.

Related: Dear Everyone, Let’s Kill the Phrase ‘Women Entrepreneurs’

As women strive to gain more funding and start their own businesses, execution is what separates the dreamers from the doers. Being a woman shouldn’t determine whether a startup succeeds or fails: Use these skills to set goals, overcome stereotypes and succeed.

 

 


3 Relationships That Will Build the Tribe Every Entrepreneur Deserves

3 Relationships That Will Build the Tribe Every Entrepreneur Deserves

Entrepreneurial success isn't easy to achieve, and it's even harder when you're going it alone. Every entrepreneur needs to build a network of sustaining individuals who fill key relationship roles -- -- and LinkedIn is stepping in to help.

The business-centric social network is preparing to roll our Career Advice, a new service to connect its members with potential mentors. Users set preferences about the advice they'd like to give or receive, and LinkedIn suggests possible partnerships within their networks, schools or regions. Once connected, mentor and mentee can talk using LinkedIn's messaging service.

How valuable are these connections? In a MicroMentor Survey of more than 700 participants, entrepreneurs with mentors increased their business revenue by 83 percent; mentorless small businesses gained only 16 percent in the same period.

Life is a team sport, and we cannot succeed alone. Building healthy, supportive relationships is more than a cornerstone of life and dream fulfillment; nourishing ourselves with the words, advice, and caring of others is embedded in humanity's very fabric.

A biological drive to connect

If I asked you to list humanity's basic needs, you likely would include food, water and shelter. But that list would be incomplete without mention of social connections.

Matthew Lieberman, author of Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, has explored the psychological association between trusting social relationships and personal and professional success. Fewer than 5 percent of the 60,000 leaders he examined for his book described themselves as adept at both forming strong relationships and turning in important business results. The takeaway? Many individuals cannot easily bring ideas to market, and so leave innovations to "wither."

I echo Lieberman's sentiments: Building networks and leveraging the talent of a team of gifted persons results in major benefits. When you recognize and celebrate the strengths of others, you uplift people and reduce stress-producing interactions. Instead of seeds of doubt, you plant seeds of energy -- and watch your true potential and greatness evolve.

Who do you need to be in your corner?

Although you might be great at connecting with your team at work, you need to branch out beyond your company or field to find new friends. Think about everyone in your life who plays a pivotal part in helping you get from today to tomorrow. Ideally, you should have each of the following personalities in your corner:

1. The Cheerleader. Doesn't everyone deserve to look to the sidelines and see someone rooting just for them? When the chips are down, this person says "Everything's going to be OK" and makes the tough stuff easier. He or she is excited for your achievements and urges you to work hard -- and this verbal encouragement will help you achieve your goals, just as it can help athletes perform better. No better tireless advocate exists than the cheerleader.

One way to attract cheerleader types into your sphere is to show appreciation for others. Comment on your colleagues' positive behaviors and contributions, especially if you've neglected to say anything thus far. Send a handwritten note to a colleague or friend to thank him or her. The more you emit cheerleader vibes, the more likely you'll magnetize these much-needed friends to your own corner.

2. The Mentor. When you're dealing with a startup's ups and downs, you need someone you can call who has navigated similar hurdles. Find a person who exhibits the traits you covet, and ask him or her to be your mentor. If you can engage at least once a month to share ideas and get advice, you'll start to see your confidence and business acumen soar. Just ask Bill Gates: He credits his mentor, Warren Buffett, with teaching him to change the way he thinks and with igniting his interest in philanthropy.

Finding and securing a mentor takes both audacity and patience. First, write down the specific expectations you have for a mentoring relationship. Then, seek out mentors from all your in-person and online business and social networks. Ask for an exploratory meeting to discuss forming a formal mentorship relationship. If you can get a commitment, make sure each meeting covers what you both need.

3. The Foxhole Buddy. The foxhole buddy is someone you can count on to be with you day in and day out. You need a partner who will have your back every day and whose skills complement your own. Consider the partnership between Steve Jobs and Steve Woznaik, co-founders of Apple: Wozniak was the mastermind behind the tech giant's first offerings, while Jobs focused on building the future of the company. Woznaik has said that a combination of technological expertise and business acumen like theirs is key to overall success.

You and your foxhole buddy should be the "yin" to each other's "yang," able to combine forces and make an unstoppable team. Make sure you're both headed toward the same goal and focused on the same future so you can get there together.

Bring the smartest, most optimistic people with real-world experience into your inner circle. The more intentional you are in your relationships, the more your investment in social connections will pay business and spiritual dividends.

Follow Kim Perell on LinkedInFacebookInstagram and Twitter and take her Execution success test at Kimperell.com to see what success trait you lead with!

 


3 Reasons Productive Passion Is the Tool You Need to Succeed

3 Reasons Productive Passion Is the Tool You Need to Succeed

No startup magically pops up out of thin air—each one stems from an idea, a dream, a passion. But an entrepreneur’s passion alone isn’t enough to build a successful company. That passion has to fuel a deep, all-consuming fire that keeps him or her working constantly toward success.

I know how important a productive passion is from my own track record. People have told me that I make my career as an entrepreneur and executive look easy, but what they don’t see is the effort I put in day after day.

My passion didn’t just create one good idea and make my company flourish overnight; passion is what made it possible for me to put in the necessary work.

Keeping Passion Productive

Sometimes having the drive to keep going after your dream no matter what obstacle gets thrown your way can make all the difference. Engagement is hard to come by: In the U.S., businesses shell out $1 billion each year to achieve it and another $100 billion on developing employees’ skill sets.

Despite that price tag, only 13 percent of the American workforce attests to having the right type of passion—the kind that drives you to seek out challenges and develop the skills to push past them.

This type of “do what you love” attitude being the difference between a successful startup and failure might sound like old news, but being emotionally invested in your workplace not only helps your company grow, but might even improve your health, too. A study conducted in Denmark found that out of 5,000 Danish workers, those with the highest commitment to their employers slept better and got sick less often.

If those are the benefits for employees, imagine the difference productive passion makes for entrepreneurs. An emotional connection is needed to execute successfully. In fact, studies show that objects to which people have emotional attachments appear larger and are easier for us to spot. It’s no wonder that a major life goal such as startup success looms large in our minds.

Coupling your passion with visualization techniques to help prioritize your goals each and every day can keep you honest about the steps you’re taking to achieve your dreams. Here are three other ways productive passion can act as your own secret weapon:

1. Let it drive your self-belief.

You’re never passionate about something you think will fail. Let that determination burn at full force and drive your trust in your ability to succeed. If you believe that your dream is achievable, you will act accordingly. Use your passion to keep your daily and monthly goals for yourself and your company within reach. The confidence you hold in your future will trickle down to anyone helping you work toward your startup’s success.

Steve Jobs was another big proponent of letting passion fuel your belief in yourself. In a commencement speech he delivered to Stanford graduates in 2005, he said, “You’ve got to find what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Keep that love of your work with you, and trust that you will put in the hours needed to see it through.

2. Let it motivate you.

It’s clear that goals we are emotionally attached to seem more prominent to us. So harness that feeling and let your passion motivate you. Emotional attachment to an idea will motivate you to answer those emails, reach out to those connections you made at a networking event or stay up all night to troubleshoot that nagging tech issue.

If your startup is truly important to you, getting up early and powering through the day to meet with investors is a non-issue. Perfecting your product design for the zillionth time is just a necessary step in the process. When it seems overwhelming, let your passion for what you are doing remind you of why you started this journey in the first place and then push you to keep on keeping on.

3. Let it give you an energy boost.

It’s easy for people who have never started their own businesses to misjudge the kind of endurance it requires. But use your productive passion to fuel you through the long hours and emotionally taxing setbacks. My grandfather always told me that everything will take twice as long and cost twice as much as you think it will. That’s never more true than in business.

Use your emotional connection with your startup to keep your enthusiasm and energy high, even when times get tough. Visualization techniques can help, as can reminding yourself to take short breaks to have coffee with a supportive friend, run to your favorite motivational song or do some meditation when you are really feeling overwhelmed.

Starting your own business is difficult—there’s no way to get around that. But if you’re passionate about your dream, there is nothing you can’t do. Let your passion fuel your productivity and persistence, and it will become the best secret weapon in your arsenal.

Follow Kim on LinkedInFacebookInstagram and Twitter and take her Execution success test at Kimperell.com to see what success trait you lead with!

 


3 Ways Vision Can Act as the Key to Success

3 Ways Vision Can Act as the Key to Success

As a successful entrepreneur and investor, I am convinced that one of the most important keys to success is having a clear vision. When people hear the word "vision" in the context of entrepreneurship, they think of a grand plan or some organizing principle for action.

However, vision is just as (if not more) powerful when used in a more literal sense as a road map to success. I'm not alone in this belief: In a survey of 2,631 CEOs and founders, 61 percent chose vision out of 23 options as the trait most vital to entrepreneurial success.

Visual input impacts all of our actions and reactions. If we can't see something, we struggle to relate to it. Even when there are instructions to the contrary, we try to convert messages into visual images. If I say, "Whatever you do, do NOT think of a pink elephant," what happens? The suggestion is converted into an image as the visual imperative overrides any other conscious instruction.

Vision is key to action: You have to see, literally and metaphorically, what you're trying to achieve. And I have found that successful entrepreneurs use vision to motivate action. Here are three ways you can integrate vision into your routine and become more successful:

1. Visualize tasks to improve your focus.

The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals, and you can't let yourself be beat because of lack of effort." — Michael Jordan

Sight drives not only focus, but also awareness. If something isn't visible, it's easy for you to lose it in the mass of visual and sensory input in today's hyper-distracting world. People often have their attention diverted and take their eyes off the metaphorical prize — and more importantly, off their to-do lists. Keeping your eyes on your long-term goals is essential, and while vision can help you stay connected to the big picture, it's also necessary to be connected to the little picture — i.e., what you have to do right now.

This translates into a task that's incredibly simple but that most people fail to do: Write down what you have to do right now. Writing it down makes the task visible, not just some abstract concept rolling around in your mind. The sheer act of writing down the task will help you define (and even refine) it. Imagine going grocery shopping without a list: You would have a vague idea of what you needed, but you might also be more prone to impulses depending on context. Your purchases might be related not so much to what you need, but to what the store presented to you.

A study conducted by the Harvard MBA program, for example, found that the 13 percent of students who had unwritten goals earned double what the 84 percent of students with no goals in mind did 10 years later. If you're doing the math, you'll notice that we're missing 3 percent of the students surveyed. That 3 percent? They had specific goals, wrote them down, and earned on average 10 times more than the rest of their classmates put together.

Dr. David Kohl's research reveals a similar theme. Only 3 percent of Americans have written goals, and just 1 percent review those written goals regularly. But the vast majority of people are missing out on the benefits of the habits of these select few: the people in that 1 percent are some of the country's highest achievers.

Writing down your goals is a very productive behavior, but sometimes it's even more important to write down your specific tasks for the day. The more specific you can be in your visual representation of the task, the better. It helps you stay in the here and now and avoid getting distracted by more abstract thoughts like strategic planning.

Inevitably, there will be individual variation. A highly visual person might actually draw a picture of a mind map or some other task representation, whereas a more verbal person might simply write down what she has to do. However you do it, putting your actions down on paper in the form that is most meaningful to you will enhance your execution ability.

2. Anticipate experiences by visualizing them.

"The man with no imagination has no wings.” — Muhammad Ali

Visualizing yourself executing actions is a powerful practice that goes beyond just thinking about what you have to do. Many elite professional athletes from all sports will testify to the power of visualization. Ali himself was known for going over his fights in his head prior to actually stepping into the ring. He predicted the outcome of 19 fights aloud — and 17 happened precisely as he had declared they would. Ali may not have called this technique visualization (he dubbed it “future history”), but the results were the same.

When we imagine performing a task, areas of the brain that are used to actually execute the task are activated. So when you imagine successfully shooting a free throw, navigating a tricky slalom course, or sinking that putt, you might not be doing the motor movements involved in those actions, but you are activating areas of the brain that are involved in their execution.

In one study, subjects who simply visualized doing an upper arm workout increased their bicep muscle size. And additional research suggests that mental practice can help with behaviors that don't involve the coordination of complex movement, like the development of self-control.

Visualization is also likely to help you anticipate issues you hadn’t noticed previously. For example, visualizing yourself giving a talk or practicing in the mirror and visualizing the audience might help you uncover parts of the presentation that aren't as fully prepared or developed as they should be. It can also help you think about parts of your presentation, like nonverbal behavior and movement, that wouldn't be apparent if you just wrote the presentation down once and called it ready to go. Visualization introduces an experiential element to practice that goes beyond just a conceptual checklist.

3. Use visual cues to connect to the 'why.'

"Even in an organization that's doing something big and bold, there's the mundane, day-to-day execution work of keeping it going. But people need to stay connected to the boldness, to the vision, and stay plugged in to the main vein of the dream." — Peter Diamandis

Simon Sinek is famous for boiling this down to one simple idea: It’s not a company’s product that gets purchased, it’s the “why” behind the product and the company itself that leads to success. A company shouldn’t strive simply to interact with people who need its product; it should be seeking out those who have a shared belief system.

The execution of a task is directly related to its meaning. If you can't see how what you're doing right now relates to your overall goals, you probably won't be very enthusiastic about doing it. Engagement is about understanding the purpose of your activities.

This has implications for your entire organization — along with your clients, partners, and customers. Your vision is your “why.” Keep the effects nonverbal communication can have on morale and employee productivity in mind, too.

This attention to visual details simply helps ensure that everyone is working toward a goal, not just "doing a job" or collecting a paycheck. Your whole team needs to know the value of the work they are doing; they need to understand the "why."

Vision, both literal and metaphorical, is a powerful force, and paying closer attention to how you're using your vision can significantly improve your road to execution. And in the end, execution is what matters. Use vision properly to take action right now: That's the key to success.

For more from Kim, follow her on LinkedInFacebookInstagram and Twitter and take her success test at Kimperell.com

 


WHAT MY 3 BIGGEST ENTREPRENEURIAL REGRETS TAUGHT ME ABOUT GROWING.

WHAT MY 3 BIGGEST ENTREPRENEURIAL REGRETS TAUGHT ME ABOUT GROWING.

By Kim Reed Perell, a widely recognized entrepreneur, angel investor and CEO of Amobee

At one point almost all of us have thought, “I wish I had known then what I know now.” Think about it: What do you know now that you wish you had known five, 10, or even 20 years ago?

Retrospective self-analysis is a helpful exercise that encourages you to focus on how you have changed and what those changes mean for your career. It’s easy to forget where you started, but examining your younger self can help identify which of your behaviors have outlived their usefulness.

What I Would Tell My Younger Self

When I look back at my younger self, I know exactly what I would tell her. I would say, “Think bigger.” Yes, I followed my vision and became an entrepreneur, but I had lots of doubts.

I was trying to be an expert in every aspect of business—but no one is an expert at everything. I now know to collaborate with people who are experts in areas I am not. No matter how talented you are, there are just some things you won’t be an expert in.

Aside from that, there are three major lessons I would share with my younger self if I could, and other entrepreneurs should take them to heart:

1. Feel your fear—and do it anyway.

As an entrepreneur, you are undoubtedly driven and passionate. But it’s not uncommon for business owners—especially inexperienced ones—to give in to fear. Don’t let fear push you to act more conservatively.

When I was building my first company, my belief in taking action helped me push forward, but I honestly never believed I would be able to grow my kitchen startup to a US$100-million company. Although I achieved success, my fear could have seriously cost me.

2. Stop searching for perfection.

Young entrepreneurs should stop being perfectionists. Doing so is time-consuming and wasteful.

For example, I used to have expectations that I would hire only the perfect candidate, which is an impossible way to scale a business. My highly selective process was slowing the pace of the company’s growth and limiting the scope of my team.

Don’t make that mistake. Focus on finding good people who will do their jobs well. Hiring employees with expertise in complementary areas instead of a handful of geniuses makes it easier to scale processes and leverage talent.

3. Dream bigger.

Thinking back to when I started my first company, I wish I could tell myself to dream bigger. While caution can be a good thing, don’t let it stop you from reaching your full potential. Allow yourself to dream bigger and reach for greater success.

Instead of thinking about writing a book, think about writing a bestseller. Turn your great idea into a business. Thinking about my formerly cautious nature has taught me to dream bigger in every aspect of my life.

So ask yourself: What do you know now that you didn’t know five, 10, or 20 years ago? What lessons would you teach your younger self? Are you dreaming big enough?

Kim Reed Perell has more than a decade of experience in the digital marketing and technology sector. She has overseen multiple high-profile acquisitions and received numerous awards, including AdAge’s 2017 Top 25 Marketing Tech Trailblazers and E&Y’s 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year. Kim currently oversees 800 employees across 21 offices worldwide as CEO of Amobee.

 


WHY ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD AIM TO FAIL — THAT’S RIGHT. THEY SHOULD ACTIVELY SEEK IT.

WHY ENTREPRENEURS SHOULD AIM TO FAIL — THAT’S RIGHT. THEY SHOULD ACTIVELY SEEK IT.

When you come out of a tough situation and realize you weren’t crushed by it, you’ll be stronger.

Here’s a viewpoint that might cause you to do a double take: Activelyseeking rejection means you’re learning, adapting and getting that much closer to your destination.

Before you click away, just think about this a moment: Entrepreneurs are innovators: They defy conventional wisdom to find ways to improve it, and they challenge assumptions to approach a given industry or need from a unique perspective. They live at the intersection of innovation and practicality. For them, failure is a necessity to reach success.

So, maybe failure’s “teachable moments” are actually worth striving for because they help you attain that innovation.

Two entrepreneurs in Michigan have recently explored this idea. And, as a result, they’ve taken the embrace of failure to the next level: Jordan O’Neil and Jonathan Williams co-founded Failure Lab, an event that actually encourages participants to share stories of their biggest failures in their personal, academic and professional lives. The two men emphasize that the event isn’t just about comparing failures — it’s an exercise in learning from them and becoming more resilient after them.

Each failure an entrepreneur encounters is a lesson; it’s a learning experience to help grow and succeed on the next attempt — and the attempt after that. Accepting failures as a critical element of doing business is essential for entrepreneurs on the path to success. Here are the steps to take on that path:

Actively seek rejection.

I’m an advisor for several companies and fellow entrepreneurs. Working with entrepreneurs is one of my passions, and as an active angel investor, I speak with startup entrepreneurs and founders regularly. In short, I’ve seen many people — including myself — experience failure.

But that’s not a bad thing: Getting rejected means we’ve taken action to get ourselves closer to our destination and enables us to learn and adapt. Consider this “fail” acronym: Frequent Adaptation Inspires Learning. It’s about changing your perspective and how you see failure.

In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, whose work in cognitive neuroscience and rationality earned him the Nobel Prize in economics, unraveled human thinking. He described the many “cognitive biases” that people live with; he illuminated how our brains seek to reduce complexities into familiar, simplistic alternatives. While this thinking pattern might be helpful for someone going about a daily routine, it can stifle innovation. When it comes to entrepreneurship, there must be a willingness to experiment.

Failure, in other words, helps inform the thought process behind experimentation. Sometimes, the only way to know how an idea will work out is to try it. If it doesn’t work, that result signals that it’s time for a new approach.

Approach failure like a lesson.

Success requires the ability to execute. Most of the time, the actions required of an entrepreneur make rejection a distinct possibility. Room for failure exists everywhere, from learning something new, to selling products, to asking for venture capital, to taking out a business loan — and even to telling friends and family about a new idea. But the next time you’re facing a meeting or experience that might go downhill, remember these benefits you can take from rejection:

Benefit: You’ll feel the fear but move forward anyway.

Through a mutual acquaintance, I recently connected with an aspiring fashion entrepreneur. She wanted to launch a shoe line and asked me for advice on how to start her business. She confided to me that rejection — failing to sell the shoes she designed — was her biggest fear. My advice to her was simple: Feel the fear, and do it anyway.

Of course, a startup’s beginning stages are a delicate time: In fact, 25 percent fail during that initial year, and 50 percent follow suit within another three years. But it’s important to persevere. While my new acquaintance might not make a sale on her first call, or even on her 50th, she’ll improve her skills and her pitch each time and thus get better at dealing with objections.

“Feel the fear, and do it anyway” is the mantra for my team. No one likes rejection, but you quickly learn that you can survive it — and that most of the time, the outcome isn’t as bad as you imagined. Even Arianna Huffington faced several rejections before she found success: Her book was turned down by about 40 publishers, and her gubernatorial campaign in California netted less than 1 percent of the vote. But soon after that, she launched The Huffington Post, which became one of the most-read news sites online.

All entrepreneurs must master the technique of pushing forward despite their fears. If your fear of rejection immobilizes you, you won’t be successful.

Benefit: You’ll adopt a growth mindset. 

Carol Dweck wrote a popular book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, in which she discussed a concept known as the “growth mindset.” A growth mindset requires recognition that you can always improve through a willingness to push yourself beyond what is known and to  master the most important life and business survival skill: adaptation.

The key to using rejection as a tool for adaptation and success is changing your perception. Remember that every rejection and failure brings you closer to success. Experimentation is vital to successful innovation, and failure is a part of experimentation. Milton Hershey, remembered for the massively popular brand of sweets that bears his name, opened three different candy companies before he found the recipe for success with the Hershey Company.

People who aren’t willing to adapt will forever be stuck in one mode of thought. Instead of thinking of failures as just “bad,” focus on the lessons you can learn from each setback — lessons about your process, about what’s working and what isn’t, about thinking. With every rejection and failure, you will learn how to adapt and be successful on your next shot.

Benefit: You’ll become more resilient.

When I started my first business, my team spent more than a year trying to secure a large client that would change the game for us. As a client, that target company was way beyond our scope, but we wanted to sell media on its behalf. We spent that entire year making calls, scheduling meetings and flying to the company’s office, only to repeatedly hear the word “no.”

After being refused at least 25 times, my team and I went to meet the company’s executive team at a conference. Our goal was to secure a 50/50 split contract to share revenue evenly. We spent the entire presentation sweating as the potential client picked apart our entire business. But, guess what? We closed the deal.

If we hadn’t been persistent, despite our numerous failures, we never would have succeeded.

Rejection builds resilience and mental toughness. When you face rejection, push yourself through that place that makes you uncomfortable, and strive to be poised and confident through those stressful calls and pitch meetings. When you come out of a tough situation and realize you weren’t crushed by it, you’ll be stronger as you move toward the next one.

I’ve spent much of my career in digital marketing and technology — a sector where those who don’t push the boundaries or innovate won’t see success. Change moves fast in tech, so failure and rejection are abundant there. But if you seek to create a culture that understands and embraces that brisk forward pace, your failures will lead to adaptation, evolution and, ultimately, success.

 


3 Ways Passion Can Help You Grow Your Business

3 Ways Passion Can Help You Grow Your Business

I sold my last company while sailing in the British Virgin Islands, negotiating the terms via satellite phone while my husband caught that evening’s lobster with his bare hands. It sounds like the start of a great business story: “Executive Sells $235 Million Company From the Middle of the Ocean, Driven By Passion.” But executives of all stripes, including me, use passion to justify extreme work ethics that prioritize business over all other aspects of our lives.

While it’s not always easy, there are benefits of being obsessively passionate about your business. I’ve learned that when leveraged correctly, the dark side of passion can help you be a better leader and grow your business.

Here are three ways to use your all-consuming passion to grow your company:

1. Stick to Your Goals

Loving what you do is one thing, but making a profit from it is another. Just because you can paint doesn't mean you'll succeed as an artist. Learn from each rejection. Refine your strategies until you generate demand for your product or service. Identify opportunities to marry your passion with market needs, and then set your goal as your guiding light. Before you settle on an idea, however, ask yourself this: Am I willing to suffer for this company? Figuring out what you love is easy. What you’re willing to suffer for? That’s much harder.

When I moved to Hawaii to build my business, people told me I was crazy. They warned me that there were no jobs, that the digital market was weak, and that I should stay where I had more opportunities. I went anyway. Yes, I worked extreme hours, but I built a $100 million company and loved every minute of it. While other people are going to parties or jetting off on vacation, you'll be in the office, making one more product adjustment or perfecting the hundredth version of your pitch. When your peers head to happy hour, you’ll be prepping for international calls you have to take well into the night.

2. Say "No"

Prepare yourself to disappoint people as you decline invitations to attend birthday brunches or join in on weekend getaways to work more. Fortunately, saying “no” becomes easy when you’ve tapped into your truest passion. Connecting to your vision will help you overcome feelings of guilt and doubt when you’ve missed the third New Year’s Eve party in a row. I physically write out my top priorities each week to keep them fresh in my mind. When I’m working toward major goals, I write those down, too, and post them where I can see them each day.

In the months leading up to the sale of my company, I taped that goal to my bathroom mirror so it would be in my face every day and night. I didn’t let myself forget it for a minute, which is why I was able to lovingly ignore my husband’s grumbling and take those calls from our boat.

3. Optimize Your Time

There are only 24 hours in a day. Before diving into the startup process, you need to decide who and what is going to take up those hours, I reserve days off for my close friends and family. I’ll get up early or work late so I can be fully present when I’m home.

Maintaining a million friendships, a family, and a business is impossible. Decide which aspects of your life are priorities, and scale back on the rest. Hand off tasks that drain your energy, and be sure to leave time for essentials like sleep. I advocate for work-life integration instead of work-life separation. If you truly love what you do, it’s not a chore to take a 7 a.m. call on the weekend or devote some of your vacation time to business. The key is to prioritize correctly so that your energy always goes toward people and projects you love.

Finding your passion empowers you to stretch yourself as an entrepreneur and ensure your business’ growth. Passion is a force of nature that can be harnessed for incredible success, as long as you don’t venture too far into the dark side...

For more from Kim, follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or at Kimperell.com


Entrepreneurship isn't just about being brilliant; it's about being adaptive and resilient.

Entrepreneurship isn't just about being brilliant; it's about being adaptive and resilient.

Entrepreneurs know that developing a successful business is an exercise in flexibility — and failure. Entrepreneurship isn’t about being brilliant; it’s about being adaptive and resilient. And the combination of the right emotions and the right mindset is the key to being resilient. There are three strategies to help entrepreneurs develop this prime combination.

When I started my first company, we were operating on a bare-bones budget and hadn’t purchased a backup server. It was too expensive, and there was no such thing as the cloud at this point. I’ll never forget walking through IKEA one weekend when my tech guy called me. He told me that our server had failed and couldn’t be fixed. My heart dropped; I thought it was the end of my company. That one server represented the entirety of the business — the very real possibility of losing the business, too, was terrifying.

Entrepreneurs know about obstacles. Startups fail 90 percent of the time, so determined entrepreneurs know that failure is something they’ll have to confront regularly. Turning a concept into a reality isn’t easy, but true entrepreneurs don’t expect it to be. They know that developing a successful business is an exercise in flexibility — and failure. I know from experience that entrepreneurship isn’t about being brilliant; it’s about being adaptive and resilient.

THE RIGHT MINDSET

Being able to adapt is critical for success. Studies show that learning is most effective when it’s challenging. Your brain literally grows in response to difficulty. From learning as a young child to protecting your brain against aging, challenging yourself is key.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck popularized this concept in her 2009 book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” She states that a successful and fulfilling life comes from a growth mindset, one that constantly seeks a challenge. With a fixed mindset, where everything has to work a certain way (i.e., be perfect), the inevitable setbacks can seem traumatic. With a growth mindset, however, you are prepared to overcome challenges.

We should look at challenges and obstacles, therefore, as opportunities to grow and learn. The loss of our single server was awful, yes, but it also built up my resilience (and taught me to invest in an automated backup). But resilience isn’t simply learning from failure; there’s an emotional component to it. In her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Angela Duckworth describes “grit” as the ability to keep going when it would be easier to give in to fear, doubt, and disappointment.

DEVELOPING RESILIENCE

I think of the emotional component of resilience as a person’s “heartset.” It’s the combination of putting the right emotions — the right heartset — with the right mindset that is the key to being resilient. Here are three strategies to help you develop this prime combination:

1. Challenge Yourself

Develop the right mindset to achieve growth and resilience by challenging yourself. In every situation, personal and professional, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” How do your experiences and those of your team inform your thinking? In a rapidly changing world, a mindset that encourages growth, no matter the situation, is essential.

2. Develop Strategies Ahead of Time

Improve your heartset by developing strategies to deal with the tough emotions that come along with challenges. We’re not always our best selves in high-stress situations. Emotional control is the key to success; make sure you have the tools in place to help manage your emotions. This can be specific activities like meditation and relaxation or practices such as coaching or mentoring. Having the right person available to you in a crisis can provide helpful perspective and support when you feel on the verge of a meltdown. Ensure you have access to someone (or several people) who can be there for you.

3. Don’t Wait for Obstacles

Develop resilience before obstacles occur. Create challenging scenarios for yourself and your team so the entire organization is constantly practicing and improving its adaptability. If you wait until a crisis arises to practice your collective resilience, you might not fare as well as if you were well-versed in it. There’s a reason fire drills exist. Help your team be prepared to stare down obstacles and emerge unscathed.

The weekend my company lost all of its data was one of the longest weekends of my life — I knew that without that database, the business didn’t exist. We could have folded right there, made an excuse, and run from disaster. But we didn’t.

On Monday, we risked embarrassment and reached out to our clients, telling them what had happened and asking for their support while we rebuilt. We were back up and running in a matter of weeks. It was a tough experience, but it built up my resilience and that of my team. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What experiences have allowed you and your team to grow more resilient?

 


SO YOU’VE NAILED THE ELEVATOR PITCH – NOW MASTER THE REAL ONE

SO YOU’VE NAILED THE ELEVATOR PITCH – NOW MASTER THE REAL ONE

Startups led by women are more profitable than those run by men. Of 300 companies seeded between 2005 and 2015, those founded by a woman outperformed those with male founders by 63 percent. And the ROI of women-led tech companies averages 35 percent higher than men in their field.

But there is a discrepancy when it comes to funding. While companies with male leadership received 60 percent more likely to receive funding.

Developing Confidence in Your Ideas

In my experience, the problem stems from the number of women pitching to begin with. Out of 60 companies I have invested in, only a handful are led by women. I’m not the only angel investor who is disappointed by the lack of female entrepreneurs.

I want to tackle the issue at the source: the pitching process.

It makes no difference whether you are a man or a woman; if you have a good idea and know how to execute it, you can succeed. The key is to make sure your confidence is stronger than anyone’s doubt. I have never once thought of myself in terms of my gender. Even when others have doubted me, I’ve committed to doing whatever it took to reach my goals. You must be willing to put yourself out there and network with potential investors and business partners.

I was 23 years old when I started my first company — of course I had doubts! But I had confidence in my knowledge of internet marketing, and, despite the collapse of the dot-com bubble, I knew I could succeed. Everyone thought I was crazy. Starting a company in the worst time in the market at 23? As an entrepreneur, ultimately, your belief in yourself must be stronger than anyone’s doubt.

How to Pitch Successfully

The most important factor that inspires me to invest in someone is this: Can you convince me of your ability to execute? Do I believe you will take action, get results, and overcome obstacles? If I’m not certain you can pull it off, I won’t invest. Here are three tips for crafting a pitch no one will turn down:

1. Master your elevator speech.

Make sure you have perfected your “elevator pitch.” That means that you have a quick, easy-to-understand version of your pitch that you can deliver in less time than it takes to ride an elevator.

You should be able to explain your idea to anyone, any time. Staying concise matters during the real deal, too — your first meeting with investors will not be long. The extended version of your pitch should take no more than 20 minutes.

2. Account for every possible question.

Your pitch needs to address every question an investor could have. What is the market need, and who is demanding it? How does your idea solve that need? Use your elevator pitch. How will your idea make both revenue and profit?

You need to really sell your investors — what have other companies in the space sold for? How much capital will you need, and how will you use it? Investors want to know what they will get out of their contribution, so calculate your request by estimating double the time and cost you expect. Plan for the worst-case scenario.

3. Convince investors to believe in you.

Your biggest challenge is convincing investors to believe in your ability to execute, so tell them your story. What have you done that proves you can make this happen? Businesses may change and trends may pivot — investors need to be confident that you can pivot, too.

Surround yourself with a team that supplements any perceived weaknesses, and convey both realism and passion so potential investors can see that you will persevere, no matter what it takes.

Success doesn’t depend on your gender; it depends on your ability to work hard and make others believe in you, too. If you can pitch your idea so that investors are confident in you, success is just around the corner.

Kim Reed Perell, president of Amobee, is a widely recognized entrepreneur, executive, and angel investor.