Tag Archive | "entrepreneur"

Fighter Pilot Bruce Bright Plans Mission to PALS 2016


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of the upcoming P&A Leadership Summit anticipate a stirring motivational keynote address from Lt. Col. Bruce Bright, USMC (ret.) at the event, which will be held Aug. 30–31 at Paris Las Vegas.

Bright’s session, “Execute Like a Fighter Pilot: 5 Action Steps to Lead Your Company to Greatness,” will begin at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 30, as part of the event’s welcome luncheon.

The speaker, who served in a similar capacity at May’s Dealer Summit, will deliver a five-point plan based on his experiences as an infantryman, F/A-18 fighter pilot and commanding officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and in his second career as a real estate entrepreneur.

“In Lt. Col. Bright, we have a speaker who has demonstrated unflappable confidence in combat as well as in the business world,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of P&A magazine. “We have much to learn from him and we are honored that he has agreed to share his experiences and strategies at our event.”

To register for the 2016 P&A Leadership Summit, click here. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact the show chair, David Gesualdo, via email hidden; JavaScript is required or at 727-947-4027.

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12 Ways To Improve Work Life Balance Beginning Today


Last week I talked about entrepreneurs and addiction to work. I concluded that while clinical addictions to work can be real, they are relatively rare, reports Forbes. Furthermore, the negative label of addiction is sometimes misapplied to the commitment and energy that is very typically one of an entrepreneur’s greatest traits. If you missed that post, you can find the column and link to the work addiction self-test survey here.

Clearly, however, the concept of work/life balance has struck a sensitive nerve. While clinical work addictions may be rare, lack of work/life balance is a pervasive issue that to some degree perhaps applies to us all. As someone who has been an entrepreneur through multiple companies and for nearly all of my life, I can see room for improvement on most every point. So with an eye towards improving the balance of work, rest and play for all of us, I have compiled the following 12 strategies entrepreneurs at every level can use to increase their strengths on this front.

First, let’s consider some recommendations from WebMD:

1. Build downtime into your schedule. Because hard-charging entrepreneurs are proficient at filling their schedules with goal activities, we can make great progress by using our planning strengths to our advantage. Make downtime a specific goal and schedule in the time and the steps you will take to achieve it. Exercise and reading are activities you can schedule in to achieve. The same applies to date night or to planned activities for physical relaxation and play. Perhaps you can set a goal of achieving 3-5 relaxation activities a week and build them into your calendar. If circumstances require you to miss a scheduled downtime event, you can discipline yourself to replace it with another, thus maintaining an increasingly better balance of work time and play.

2. Drop the activities that sap your time or energy. Have you noticed that some activities take more time than they should, or are physically and mentally draining beyond the time they require? Maybe you have a friend or a set of friends who tend to bond over too much drinking or gossip. Yes, you appreciate their friendship, but you leave these situations feeling dragged down instead of enriched. Or you are clinging to maintenance activities you could delegate or hire someone else to take care of and add a welcome lift to your day.

3. Make time for exercise. This is a big theme for me as I have loved exercise and athletic challenges for nearly all of my life. As you consider your health and well-being, determine the kinds of exercise that will accomplish your goals. Schedule your workout activities for realistic times that you can achieve such as noon hour walks or runs, early morning workouts, or forms of exercise that can help you unwind after work. Keep your plans flexible as well for the kinds of fitness you want to achieve, to strike a healthy balance between cardio workouts, weights, and activities that emphasize stretching, strength and agility. We all know entrepreneurs and others who actually lose health and risk injuries by adopting one favorite exercise activity and neglecting all else.

4. Remember that a little relaxation can go a long way. If you allow time for 10-15 minute visits with a friend or loved one, to read an enjoyable article, or to take a quick walk around the block, these short activities can go a long ways towards increasing your emotional well-being and health. Stop to enjoy the “small things” perhaps once an hour or several times every day to keep your spirit fed and your motivation and commitment running high.

Here are a few additional “life hack” ideas I’ve gathered as well:

5. Enjoy your weekends and vacation. If weekends and workdays blur together, your body and mind are never able to rest. While it may not be possible to avoid all work-related activities, be sure your weekends and vacations are times that you allow yourself to relax and enjoy. Concerts, family and sporting activities are important times to disconnect and be thoroughly present for those you are with. During vacations perhaps you can limit email checking and computer time to once an hour or to once at the start or end of each day.

6. Make a time for chores, and get your chores done. Yet again, entrepreneurs’ fire to “get hard things done” can work to our advantage when it comes to accomplishing unwelcome chores. Schedule them in to avoid letting them turn into emergencies. Yes, there may be days you face a flat tire or you may come down with the flu. But if you schedule time for health checkups, car maintenance and general cleaning you will face fewer health or maintenance emergencies and those you confront will likely be smaller in scope and easier to work through or to bear.

7. Minimize the time you spend on things you must do, or find ways to make them enjoyable. Perhaps cooking is something you enjoy if you do it with a loved one, or you could use a meal delivery service, or choose recipes that reduce your cooking time from 40 minutes to 25. You could run or bike or walk to the dry cleaner and to other nearby errands to get enjoyable exercise and fresh air instead of driving the car. If you have a lengthy commute, perhaps you can work from home 1-2 days of the week, or find inspirational books on audio or music you love to fill the available time.

Finally, here is a set of big picture strategies from Fast Company to help you emulate the habits of those who achieve work/life balance best. Heed them well.

8. Set aside time for family. While Fast Company put this reminder well down on its list, your family is the priority you should always put first. Entrepreneurship is a hard challenge for many families. It is extremely hard to make family the highest priority on the late nights when a CEO’s work and decisions will affect perhaps hundreds or even thousands of other families and jobs. Yet making sufficient time for family will be a continual area for the hardest and most important work/balance decisions an entrepreneur or executive makes.

9. Make deliberate choices about what you want from your life. There was a particular quote that wheelchair athlete Curt Brinkman used to love: There are people who watch things happen, people who make things happen, and people who stand there and say, ‘What happened?’” Which of these would best describe you? Yes, it’s a humorous concept—but those whose lives are balanced the best have accomplished that goal, like any other high achievement, by conscious and deliberate choice. Are your decisions and your actions aligned? If not, you know what to do.

10. Communicate clearly about what’s working and what isn’t. This is not complaining; it’s communication. Acknowledge and cherish the things that go well. Work to minimize or eliminate what’s not working. This is an assessment that is continual and is important to everyone, rather than making excuses or just “making do.”

11. Turn off distractions. Distractions can take the form of television, too much music, background conversation, or, increasingly, the iPhone or device that constantly pulls on your focus. Perhaps there are times you need to turn off the device or leave it in another room. Whatever the distractions are that prevent you from giving your whole focus to your work (or from being fully present for those you are with when not working), you should make a concerted effort to set the distractions aside.

12. Have a strong support network. Every great entrepreneur is influenced by the people within his or her circle of closest associates and friends. In fact, business expert Jim Rohn has famously noted, “You are the average of the five people you are with most of the time.” Who are the people you trust and who do you turn to for advice, for insight, or simply to lend a listening ear? Knowing the full importance of a strong support network, perhaps you should choose these key players with additional care. And perhaps you could be a better resource than you currently are for those who are relying on you.

This is a fairly comprehensive list of work/life strategies that should provide at least a few new ideas for all. As an entrepreneur who must continually address these challenges myself, I welcome your additional ideas as well.

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5 Smart Habits of People Who Make Things Happen


Bridging the gap between generating ideas and implementing them isn’t intuitive for everybody, and one quality that separates successful entrepreneurs from the not-so-successful is their ability and willingness to get “stuff” done, reports Entrepreneur. It’s not a single habit that separates the winners from the losers but rather a multitude of behaviors executed consistently that support a larger goal. Consistency is the keyword here. Just as you don’t become stronger or faster with infrequent trips to the gym, developing soft skills works the same way. They require the same cultivation and dedication as anything else you want to become better at.

While everybody has their own behaviors and habits that work for them, here are five that I’ve found to yield positive results:

1. Make self-deposits.

When you make a promise to other people, chances are you uphold it because your personal reputation and the quality of the relationship are on the line. But what about making promises to yourself? It’s easier to break promises made to ourselves than it is to another, yet keeping our self-promises builds the self-efficacy and self-confidence upon which character is based. If you want to feel unstoppable, start by keeping the promises you make to yourself when nobody’s looking.

2. Capture your ideas immediately.

Good ideas tend to pass right through me like an oversized bowl of fiber (feel free to tweet that), and there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to recall a great idea that has since vanished from the mental repository known as “memory.” When a hint of inspiration strikes you, write it down immediately. Make a voice note, send yourself an email, write whatever keywords you have to that will spark your memory when you return to it later.

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Yes, there’s the old adage, “if I don’t take myself seriously then nobody else will.” However, people are more prone to flock to others who show a little personality than others who put them to asleep. Just look at the humor used by Dollar Shave Club in their marketing videos. While the thought of buying a razor isn’t exactly inspiring, nor does it incite a deep personal connection with people, the personality shown in their YouTube videos certainly does. Of course, there’s a time and place to be funny. Know your audience and the climate of the room. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself saying something that sounded funny in your head right before you lose all your friends.

4. Build yourself daily.

I’m a big believer in setting personal challenges to build resiliency. The choices you make shape who you are today and who you will be tomorrow. Staying fit doesn’t stop at the treadmill or after you squeeze into a Speedo. There is mental, emotional and spiritual fitness that balance each other out and make for a well-rounded individual. We all know people with brilliant minds who have the social skills of a nat. Build your skills daily every opportunity you have.

5. Be candid.

If there’s one thing that everybody needs more of, and I could insert a lot of jokes right here, it’s time. If you want to reward people, be candid. Tell them straight up, in a not-so-rude sort of way, and don’t waste their time. People appreciate honesty and resent deceit. They will actually seek your counsel in the future because they know what you stand for.

These are just a few of the habits that I’ve found to yield positive results for myself and for others. What are yours?

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6 Authentic Ways to Inspire Other People When You’re Not Great With Words


In order to succeed, almost everyone–whether business owner or employee–must not only stand out but also be inspirational. Leading requires the ability to encourage, to motivate, and to inspire, reports Inc. 

But what if you’re not comfortable speaking to groups… or even to individuals? What if finding the right words is something that always seems to elude you?

That’s okay. Instead of using words, inspire others through action. Here are some genuine ways to be inspirational–and to have a lot more fun in the process.

1. Don’t try to talk. Just do.

Words are often quickly forgotten. What most of us say isn’t particularly interesting — but what we do can definitely be.

So spend your time doing instead of talking. Actions are memorable. Actions are inspiring. Actions inspire other people to follow your lead and take actions of their own.

And that’s especially true when you…

2. Do unusual things.

Draw a circle and put all your “stuff” in it. Your circle will look a lot like everyone’s: Everyone works, everyone has a family, everyone has homes and cars and clothes….

We like to think we’re unique, but roughly speaking we’re all the same–and similar isn’t inspiring.

So occasionally do something really different. Backpack to the next town just to see how many people stop to offer you a ride. (Don’t take them up on it, though, since unless you appear to be in distress the people eager to give you a ride tend to be the last people you want to ride with.) Try to hike/scramble to the top of a nearby mini-mountain no one climbs. (Do yourself a favor and take water along.) Compete with your daughter to see who can swim the most laps in an hour. (If you live in my house you’ll lose really, really badly.)

Or work from a coffee shop one day just to see what you learn about other people… and what you learn about yourself.

Whatever you do, the less productive and sensible it is the better. Your goal isn’t to accomplish something worthwhile. Your goal is to collect experiences.

Experiences, especially unusual experiences, make your life a lot richer and way more interesting–to you and to other people. You can even…

3. Do the occasional stupid thing.

I know. You’re supremely focused, consistently on point, and relentlessly efficient.

And you’re also really, really boring.

Remember when you were young and followed stupid ideas to their illogical conclusions? Road trips, failing the cinnamon challenge, trying to eat six saltine crackers in one minute without water… you dined out on those stories for years.

Going on “missions,” however pointless and inconvenient, was fun. In fact the more pointless the mission the more fun you had because that made it all about the ride and not the destination.

So do something, just once, that adults no longer do. Drive eight hours to see a band. Buy your seafood at the dock.

Or do something no one thinks of doing. Ride along with a policeman on a Friday night. (It’s the king of eye-opening experiences.)

Pick something it doesn’t make sense to do a certain way… and do it that way. You’ll inspire other people to take chances of their own — and to not worry about what other people think.

4. Embrace your own cause…

People care about–and remember–people who care. Stand for something and you instantly stand apart — and inspire people.

But…

5. But don’t ever talk about your cause. 

People who brag are not remembered for what they’ve done. They’re remembered for the fact they brag. (That’s why the first — and second — rule of doing good is to never talk about the good you do.)

Do good things because those things are good for other people. Don’t worry: the less you say, the more you will inspire others, because they’ll know you do what you do only because you care.

6. Get over yourself.

Most of the time your professional life is like a hamster wheel of resume or curriculum vitae padding: you avoid all possibility of failure while maximizing the odds of success in order to ensure your achievement graph tracks ever upward.

Inevitably, that approach starts to extend to your personal life too.

So you run… but you won’t enter a race because you don’t want to finish at the back of the pack. Or you sing… but you won’t share a mic in a friend’s band because you’re no Adele. Or you sponsor the employee softball team… but you won’t actually play because you’re not very good.

Personally and professionally you feel compelled to maintain your all-knowing, all-achieving, all conquering image.

And someday, without noticing, you’re no longer a person. You’re a resume.

Stop trying to appear perfect. Accept your faults. Make mistakes. Hang yourself out there. Try and fail.

Then be gracious when you fail.

When do, people will be inspired, because people who are willing to fail are rare–and because people who display grace and humility, especially in the face of defeat, are incredibly rare.

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4 Steps for Launching Corporate Social Responsibility at Your Business


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a hot topic in the business world. Companies of all sizes are being encouraged (and sometimes forced) to become more responsible in their communities, reports Entrepreneur. Being a responsible “corporate citizen” includes two important components: 1) things an organization does to society and 2) things an organization does for society.

The first component of CSR requires companies to do no harm to the communities in which they operate. It’s not acceptable to pollute the environment, sell unsafe products, promote unhealthy practices, or mistreat employees. In our new world of social transparency, organizations that do harm in any way won’t survive.

While this first component of CSR is a responsibility of all organizations, the second component is an opportunity. In other words, organizations have the basic responsibility to do no harm, but they also have the opportunity to make a difference in their communities. There are huge advantages to building an organization that does much more than just make money. The entrepreneurs I’ve met across America are passionate about serving their communities and feel the benefits of doing so far outweigh the effort, time, and cost.

Having worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs who are making significant contributions to their communities, I’ve observed a simple process they follow for getting involved.

1. Clarify your values.

Your “why” or purpose for being in business is the foundation for everything you do. Having a clear purpose naturally leads to a set of related values. For example, Richard Chaves’s driving purpose is to create jobs in a city he loves. Consequently, he values projects for his company, Chaves Consulting, that lead to more jobs. He also values excellent training, ongoing education, and community building.

Based on your purpose, what are the things you and your teammates value most? Do you value education, continuous learning, innovation, exceptional service, technology development, health and wellness, teamwork, or ethics and integrity? Clarifying your values is an important first step in linking your business with your community. You want to support initiatives that are consistent with your purpose and values, while avoiding things that aren’t consistent with your purpose and values. Your community involvement should always enhance your overall company brand and reputation.

2. Assess your skills.

After clarifying your company values, the next step is to reflect on the key skills and core competencies of your organization. What are you really good at? What do you do better than other companies? What things can you contribute that other people cannot? Then, looking at this list, which ones are you the most passionate about? For example, you may be great at calculating your taxes but not very excited about this skill. On the other hand, you may be very good at and very enthusiastic about solving technical problems. The key is to list your core competencies that you’re most passionate about sharing. What are you most interested in? What kinds of activities bring you the most joy? What contributions do you want to make? After answering these questions, you’ll be ready to identify potential community projects or organizations you want to support.

3. Find potential projects.

As your business grows, many people will approach you about supporting their initiatives. It’s great if you can help them, but it’s better to select potential projects in advance based on your purpose, values, skills, and passion. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a hodgepodge of projects that aren’t directly related to your brand or community of customers. Creating a list of potential projects is easy: Do a Google search on nonprofits, charities, and social organizations in your area. Many cities also have a nonprofit association that can help identify community needs, or you can call various government agencies and ask which organizations are working on certain problems that interest you: education, human services, workforce services, or rehabilitation. To find the best matches, start with a broad list of projects before narrowing down your options.

4. Select the best matches.

Now you need to select one or more projects to support that are great matches with your overall company brand, including purpose, values, skills, and passion. I recommend you work with organizations that serve the same community you do. For example, our customers in the food business were interested in health, nutrition, and fitness. Consequently, we supported running events, fitness fairs, and athletic teams. If you’re in the food industry, you might support various hunger organizations. If you’re in construction, you might get involved in housing projects. If you’re in computer services, you might support a school computer literacy program. While serving constituencies outside your community is admirable, it doesn’t help you build a consistent brand and reputation.

In addition, you should get involved with local projects and organizations whenever possible. The more interaction you have with people in your own area, the more rewarding the service will be for you and your team. This is easy if you’re building a geographical community but harder if you’re building a niche community. However, you might support national organizations that have a main office or regional presence in your area. While it’s great to send money to causes elsewhere in the world, that doesn’t always bring you and your team together in a community effort.

Creating your community strategy

The organizations we build can play a huge role in addressing the challenges we face in our communities. While we have a responsibility to do no harm, we also have a tremendous opportunity to make a real difference. I encourage all the aspiring entrepreneurs I work with to build a social component into their business plan from day one. At first, the contribution may be time, skills, and expertise. Later on, it may include financial resources as well. Using business models to address community concerns provides great solutions to our challenges as well as tremendous benefits to our businesses. The questions below will help you create a sound and well-planned strategy for making a difference in your community:

1. What is your purpose and the brand you’re trying to build in your community?

2. Based on your purpose, what values are most important to you, your team members, and your organization?

3. What are five to 10 key skills and core competencies that you, your team, and your organization have to offer?

4. From the list of skills above, which ones are you and your team most passionate about sharing with your community?

5. What are some potential nonprofits, charities, social organi­zations, or government organizations in your community that may benefit from your company’s involvement?

6. Select several organizations from your list that you’re most interested in supporting. Why is each a great match with your overall company brand?

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3 Essential Skills All Women Entrepreneurs Must Have


For many women, starting a new business can be a daunting task that does not always work out as planned. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, one-third of new businesses fail within the first two years and 50% fail during the first five years. Taking time to learn a few essential skills can increase your chances of success and help prevent common mistakes, reports Forbes.

Preparing for the journey ahead can be both exciting and overwhelming, particularly if you’re a first-time entrepreneur, but the rewards can be well worth the effort. Here are three essential skills you need to learn before starting your new venture:

Goal Setting

Most entrepreneurs fail at setting goals even though goal setting is one of the most important skills necessary for business success. One of the most challenging aspects of running a business is learning to stay motivated and committed to your goal. Having a clear, achievable, and realistic goal will give you a long-term focus and enable you to keep moving in the right direction. An example of an unclear goal is “I want to increase sales revenue.” A more clear, realistic goal would be “I want to increase sales revenue by 25% within six months.” Without a goal, there is nothing to strive for or no real sense of purpose.

Not only should you set goals for your business, you should also map out a plan for how you will achieve each goal and set deadlines. Goals should be in writing and tracked over time to ensure you are reaching your targets. Spend time visualizing a long-term goal for your business, and find an image or symbolic item that reminds you of where you want to be. Your goals should set the tone for your business and help guide you toward reaching your stated objectives. Setting goals can also help keep employees engaged and motivated, and drive performance within your organization.

Time Management

Time management is a concept many entrepreneurs struggle with. This is especially true for women trying to maintain work-life balance. Developing your time management skills will help to maximize productivity and increase the effectiveness of your work. Good time management skills are essential, particularly in the early stages of a new business, so it is imperative that you make the most of your time.

Keeping an activity log of appointments, meetings, tasks, telephone calls, and other important events will enable you to analyze your current working style and plan improvement strategies. Learn to prioritize tasks by level of importance and urgency, for example low, medium, and high. Avoid wasting time on unimportant tasks such as unsolicited phone calls and checking email. Less important tasks can be delegated so that you can focus on the more important ones. Also try to manage distractions, especially if you run a home-based business. Here’s how one female entrepreneur says she deals with time management:

“You have to discover and develop what’s most comfortable for you and make it a priority. I have a set agenda for the day and make the best attempt to accomplish all goals by the end of the day. Having a schedule or agenda is key. If I neglect to organize my day at least the night before, I’m fumbling knowing there is plenty to do but not exactly sure what to tackle first.” – Tina Swain, Founder & Director, Swain Therapy & Counseling, LLC

Learning to use your time more effectively can help reduce stress, increase efficiency, and improve quality of life.

Negotiation

Research shows that women are less likely to negotiate than men, and men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women (Women at Work). To be successful in business, women must learn how to deal like the so called “big boys.” Negotiation skills are extremely important and can be useful when negotiating with vendors and customers or negotiating business contracts and securing investment capital.

First, it’s important to develop a certain comfort level when it comes to negotiating so choose a negotiation style that makes you feel comfortable. For example, are you more comfortable being the aggressor, or being submissive? Or, are you comfortable being more cooperative and wanting to reach a win-win solution or assertive in sticking to your bottom line?

It’s also important to set your expectations prior to the negotiation phase and don’t be reluctant to ask for what you want. Most importantly be willing to say “No” and don’t be afraid to walk away. According to an article written by Charles B. Craver entitled “The Impact of Gender on Bargaining Interactions,” men are believed to be rational and logical while women are thought to be emotional and intuitive. So when going into negotiations remember to leave your emotions at the door. Don’t take it personally. And finally, practice, practice, practice! Learning solid negotiation skills can mean the difference between success and failure.

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