Friday, 22 November 2013

The 5 worst pieces of businesses advice that I have had

The 5 Worst Pieces of Advice for Small Business Owners

When you’re starting a business, there’s no shortage of people eager to hand out advice. It seems that everyone, even someone you've just met, has an opinion on how you should be developing your product, running your marketing, handling your finances and much more.
I'll be the first to admit that I've met some very smart people and have had great mentors over the years. Their contributions have been invaluable to my successes. Yet after launching many companies over 35 years in business, I have come across some terrible advice.
Below are the top five bits of advice that I could have done without.

1. "Hire people you know."

I've had many people tell me that it's always better to assemble a team of "known quantities" — friends, colleagues or former employees whom you know and trust. But I've discovered that for me, the best hiring decisions are based on the specific positions I need to fill at that moment in time. In other words, I need to focus on the specific expertise and skill sets the company needs, rather than trying to piece together how Jill, Sally and Joe will fit into the new business.
In addition, if things aren't working out between an employee and your company, you need to part ways (and usually, the sooner the better). You may be more reluctant to let friends go, even if you know they aren't good fits.

2. "There's no room for you in the market."

The key to business success doesn't always hinge on finding a completely empty field; rather, it’s how you define your company and its place in the market. Starbucks wasn't the first company to sell coffee, but they did revolutionize the coffee shop by selling an experience along with a caffeine fix. Still, numerous boutique coffee shops are able to open and thrive today, even though there's a Starbucks around the corner.
Rather than struggling to come up with a brand new idea, take a look at your target industry and see where there's a void to be filled. Figure out the best possible way to fill that need and run with it. You don't always have to blaze a new trail, but you need to know who you are.

3. "You have to be cheaper than the other guys."

I admit that I fell into this pricing trap with a number of my companys. I felt that the only way I could compete with the "big guys" was to undercut them on price. So, I dropped our prices. My business grew, customers were happy, more customers came in, yet we were nearly losing money with every new order.
Many young companies feel the pressure to discount their prices heavily in order to win business. While customer acquisition is important, attracting customers at unsustainable price levels will just result in a race to the bottom. I’ve learned that you’re better off in the long run to focus on how to bring more value to customers, rather than simply slashing your prices. After all, someone will always be able (or willing) to absorb a lower cost than you. You'll need to find a new way to stand out, and then work as hard as you can to be exceptional in those differentiating areas.

4. "Social media is free."

Over the past several years, I've had people tell me that starting a small business today is much easier than a decade ago, because of all the free marketing on FacebookTwitter and Yelp. Sure, you don’t have to spend a dime to join Facebook, create a Twitter account or start a blog. But, I think a more apt comparison is that social media is free like a puppy. It may not cost much to bring a shelter puppy home, but from day one, it's an endless whirlwind of training, toys and treats.
Likewise, social media is far from free once you factor in the blood, sweat and tears it demands. From developing fresh content to keeping up conversations, social media requires nonstop commitment once you start. Unless you consider your time (or the time of your employees) worthless, then there’s a significant cost involved with social media.

5. "You have to spend money to make money."

It's risky to think that throwing money at a problem is your silver bullet. Sometimes, creative thinking and strategy work far better than a checkbook.
Its important to learn the difference between spending money and investing in the business. Certainly, money can scale a business faster, but only when you spend money on those things that will produce more money in return.

Final Thoughts

People will always give you advice — some good, some bad. The key is to never forget that you are running the show. Other people's opinions should always be viewed through the context of your own experiences, convictions and value system.
Final decisions are always up to you, so there’s no blaming someone else for bad advice.
I have many stories - good and bad that have developed and grew businesses, but also learning opportunities that for me we the bad ones - but I can share so you don't make those same mistakes.
Contact me
Tony Park
Head Gardener at Business Gardener - 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

PR is a great way to grow your business

 PR can help you create awareness of your company and your services.
PR is a great way to generate leads for your marketing pipeline and it all starts by defining who you are and why people should buy from you. When you have completed those first steps, your next step is to take your message out into the world!  
Lets look at how to promote your business with a press release.
Press Releases
Developing a press release – and getting it covered in publications from your target market – adds credibility to your message and delivers that credible message to your audience.
pressrelease-1A press release should announce something newsworthy.  Hiring new people, adding additional services, bringing on new clients, and purchasing new equipment are all announcements that are worthy of a press release. These types of announcements show how your business is growing, and there’s not much better news to share with your target market!
When writing the release, you want to answer the questions – who, what, where, when and why. The most important of these questions is the why. Why should someone care about this news?
For example, if you have acquired a new customer, your announcement can say:
Acme Print and Marketing Services is pleased to announce that The Big Bank has chosen Acme to handle all of their print production and direct marketing communications needs. The Big Bank is another example of Acme’s expanding role as a leader in providing print and marketing to organizations in the financial services industry. 
The news is that The Big Bank has become a client; the story is that Acme is now becoming a go-to resource for the financial services industry.
Note that if you are announcing the purchase of new equipment or technology, the vendor you buy from is usually more than happy to write a press release about your purchase. These vendors are sometimes able to get coverage in publications and sites where you might not be able to, so be sure to ask!
Distributing the Press Release
Once you have finalized the press release, (and received approval from any customers or vendors that you mention) send your press release to publications and websites that cover your industry and reach the target audience you are trying to connect with. This may require a bit of research, but you want to be sure you are speaking to an audience who cares about your message.
newsreleaseIn our Acme Service Provider example, it would be beneficial to reach out to publications that focus on marketing and communications for financial services.
In addition to sending the press release to publications and websites, you can also send it out via a distribution or wire service. These services will send your press release out thousands of publications, and can help boost your SEO rankings.
Font is a company that can assist you and Becher can assist you in this.
Repurposing Your Content
Once your release is out, there are several ways to keep the news alive. First, be sure to post links to the press release from all your social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  In addition to the link, post a bit of the story as well. Acme could tweet “More Good News from Acme”  and a link to the press release.
In addition, you can take the content of the press release and rework it into a blog post. Note that these are different communications channels, so you want to be sure you edit the content so that it reads more like a blog post and is more conversational.
This is a first step and creates positive Brand Values for your business - something you can grow on for other marketing and advertising.
Tony Park
Business Gardener 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Content Marketing helps to create respect with WEB 2.0

Hi everyone,

How to Spread the Word Through Content Marketingpeople are either getting into using WEB 2.0 tools like facebook, blogs, LinkedIn etc... or they have already have a presence. Some people are looking to use these as a replacement to advertising and see it as similar to say TV or Radio - or even just a press add and think that all these great people will see it and come to buy your product. 

The reality is far from the expectation.

You need to create a brand value a profile of relevant information that makes your web site, your blog your information stand out from the Billions and Trillions of web pages and pieces of information that is available.

Just putting up an add saying how great you are - a price and come and get it is not good enough anymore (was it ever) . 

A major way to get recognition of your brand values and then a possibility of a sale is to have relevant content to inspire, inform and educate to gain an understanding from potential purchasers that you have the relevant product or service for them, based on information and respect gained from that ongoing relationship.

Over the following weeks we will have more information on the gaining of respect and relationship selling, however below is an article from Katherine Duncan on a some aspects to gain some of this respect by making sure you have relevant content on your WEB 2.0 tool.

Tony park
Head Gardener 

How to Spread the Word Through Content Marketing

Image credit: Shutterstock
Content marketing, the creation of original written and visual materials used to generate leads, is becoming increasingly popular online--because it works. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 91 percent of B2B marketers and 86 percent of B2C marketers are employing the technique, and more than half of both groups plan to increase their efforts in 2013.

"Those who produce keyword-rich online content, including YouTube videosblog posts, articles and so on, consistently show up on the first page of search results for their targeted keywords," writes marketing expert Ann Handley. The biggest appeal to this approach is cost. In lieu of shelling out thousands of dollars to buy advertising or keywords, marketers employ creativity as currency.
Here are five tips for doing it right:
1. Understand your audience.
Study your prospective audience to determine their needs and interests so you can appeal to them in an entertaining manner. Do it by monitoring keywords and topics (including names of competitors) on your social media platforms to see which drive the most Facebook Likes, Twitter shares, blog comments, etc. Once you have attracted a small audience, use their feedback to create content that will pull in even more followers.
2. Make a plan. 
Content marketing requires you to sustain whatever momentum you build through regular postings (daily is best). To keep it going, you'll want to develop a communications strategy that supports--not distracts from--your overall business goals by laying out a detailed editorial calendar of topics for the next few months. Then make sure to share the calendar with the rest of your team, doling out assignments where possible and asking the staff to contribute ideas for new content going forward.
3. Set high standards.
Apply the same standards to your online content as you do to the rest of your business. While effective content generates and nurtures leads, poorly executed content can have the reverse effect and actually damage your brand, causing you to lose readers and business. Play to your strengths: For example, if you're a skilled photographer, focus your content on teaching people how to get the best shot.
Bear in mind that the tone you use in a company blog or white paper (more formal) should be different from how you write for social media (casual and conversational). If you don't consider yourself a skilled writer, you can hire freelancers to do the job. But be sure to provide your writers with detailed editorial standards to follow.
4. Celebrate variety.
Don't limit your online content to routine blog postings or case studies. Consider offering product comparisons, a resource gallery or a directory of helpful information about your industry. Rethink common elements of your website. For example, perhaps you can use your FAQ page to address difficult questions related to your industry, not just your company.
5. Share wisely.
You've devoted so much time to creating meaningful content--now it's important that you know how to share it across appropriate social media channels. To build your brand's presence, set aside a chunk of time each day and use it to connect with others on various networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). And avoid being too promotional; instead, share your best content when you believe it can provide obvious benefits to your followers.

Happy blogging - Tony Park
If you want some advice contact me at 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Too much data - how to decide - Part 2

To Much Data - Mistakes you can make !

This is the second part of the sharing of information on what we can do in these times of information overload - and its going to get worse.

This a continuation of a blog by a respected business associate.

Again its not the data - but how you use it thats important.

Tony Park

Making Better Decisions with Evidence - Part 2

My last post, about using data and evidence to make better management decisions, ended with a question.
A book club did an A/B test showing that by making a welcome call to new members, first-year spending could be increased by 8% and first-year retention by 6%.
So the question I posed at the end of this article, without providing an answer, had to do with what this company should now expect, as they roll their “welcome call” program out to alltheir new members. Should they expect the same results as they had in their test, or worse results, or better results?
If you didn't yet read the last post, what do you think?
There were a lot of answers ventured in the comments section, but unfortunately the vast majority were wrong. The correct answer was (wait for it)...

The book club should expect worse results from its roll-out.

More than two thirds of those who guessed any specific answer thought that the results would be the same, and several people suggested that there was insufficient information to tell.
Only two people thought the book club should expect the roll-out to have worse results, which is actually the correct answer, but no one suggested the correct reason for expecting worse results (although kudos to Sam Walker, who suggested it was because of regression to the mean, which was certainly close).
No, the actual reason the roll-out of a successful A/B test should be expected to under-perform the test result has to do with the sample of tests we choose to roll out, which is inherently biased. We only roll out successful tests, right? No one would roll out an unsuccessful test, why would they ever do that?
But this introduces a statistical bias. Every test, no matter how big or small, will have elements of randomness to it. There is always a chance that the results of a test on a sample of customers will give results that are significantly better or worse than would be achieved for the whole population of customers, based purely on the random selection of test participants.
When you do an A/B test, if your random choice of test participants just happens to include a few very enthusiastic or valuable customers, for example, then your test result will be better than the average result you would get for all your customers. Or, if your test sample just happens to include some very lackluster customers, its result will be worse than the average for all customers.
These variances occur purely on account of the random selection of participants. The smaller sample size you use for your test, the bigger the variance is likely to be, but there will be some variance in all samples, no matter how large.
However, what this means is that by choosing only to roll out tests that show positive results, we are eliminating more randomly negative results, and including more randomly positive ones, right? That is, there is always a chance that the result of any test will be significantly better or worse than the average over all our customers, but if this random occurrence is negative, then we wouldn't be rolling the program out.
So, on average, we should expect more roll-outs to under-perform their tests than to over-perform them.
My purpose in putting this and the previous post up (and future posts that I plan in this series) is not to provide an academic course in statistics. No calculations or equations were needed to make the argument I just made. You don’t need to add or subtract numbers to understand the logic.
My purpose is to call your attention to the fact that even though, as managers, we are all now inundated with data, and even though we have immense computational resources at our fingertips, most of us are not yet skilled enough in our reasoning to be able to put these data to good use, as a general proposition. If we want the quality of our decisions to improve with the quality and availability of data and computational capabilities, then we first need to improve our statistical reasoning.
We need to improve our skill at using evidence to make good decisions.
A couple of comments on the previous post made reference to the fact that the book club I mentioned would also have to ensure that the data from its test results are not contaminated or biased in some way, and this is certainly true. Before you can rely on data at all, you have to be sure you can trust it.
So in my next post on this topic, I’ll discuss the conditions under which you can trust the data you encounter.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Too much data - how to decide - Part 1.

Brain Overload ?

There is so much information available now - some would say too much and you would think that management decisions would have improved from this surplus of information. 

However it seems that it has not improved and we need to see what we need to do to improve that step as well.

The information below outlines the challenge and in step 2, some solutions.

Tony Park - Business Gardener.

Part 1

Management Decisions in a Data-Rich Environment

When making a decision, today's business executive has access to roughly a thousand times more data, and a thousand times more powerful analytic and computational tools, than would have been available for making the same exact decision as recently as 1993. Unfortunately, however, the quality of the management decision-making process itself has not much improved.
Today’s managers are woefully under-prepared for using data and evidence to support intelligent, scientifically sound decisions, and most business executives are completely unaware of just how flawed their reasoning processes really are.
Let me give you an example. When I address business audiences I sometimes pose a simple question based on a case study. A few years ago, a European book club found that by calling its new members within their first month of membership, just to welcome them on board and inquire whether they fully understood the terms, first-year members bought 8% more books, and their likelihood of renewing their membership at the end of the first year increased by 6%, as well. No selling at all was allowed on these welcome calls; the calls were made purely to improve the customer experience.
Are you with me so far? OK, now I ask the audience:

How can the book club possibly know it was the calling program that achieved these results, all by itself?

Couldn’t it have been the selection of books being offered that year, or the arrival of a particularly successful bestseller? Or what about a fall-off in competition from some other book club? Or even an improvement in the country’s overall economy, for that matter? And what did the calling program achieve in the following year, anyway?
I have asked this very simple question of business executives in audiences all over the world, and all I usually get are perplexed looks. The vast majority of managers are simply flummoxed by the question. Only about half the time, in fact, does even a single executive suggest the right answer. And it is a very simple, very basic answer.
The book club knows that it had to be the calling program all by itself that achieved these great results because they didn’t call every new member. They only called a random sample of new members that year, and then they compared the purchase volume and retention rate between those who were called and those who were not. It was really that simple.
This kind of “A/B test” has become quite common in the age of interactive marketing, because now the vast majority of marketing activity is based on individual interactions with individual customers, the way the book club's business model worked years ago. If you want to know what offer to make to a particular kind of Web visitor, or what graphics will generate the most click-throughs, then randomly select a portion of your Web visitors to receive treatment A, and another portion to receive B. Google, Amazon, and other large, online businesses are capable of conducting and evaluating thousands of individual A/B tests daily.
A/B testing, however, is just one aspect of dealing more scientifically with data. And in future posts I’m going to talk about a number of additional issues, including:
  • Knowing when you can trust data, and when you can’t
  • How to avoid the rationality-impeding influences of your own human biases
  • Testing the null hypothesis
  • Planning ahead for randomness and unpredictability
  • Using the Law of Large Numbers and other principles to improve your decisions
If you think you’re already pretty skilled with the kind of reasoning required to make better management decisions in a data-rich environment, then you should have no problem answering this follow-up question:
Once the book club conducted its test and found that the calling program did, in fact, have positive results, they rolled the program out and began making welcome calls to all new members. What should they expect now?
  1. The percentage improvements will be the same?
  2. The improvements will not be quite as good?
  3. The improvements will be even better?
And why should they expect this?
To get the answer to this question, you can click here.

More in part 2.
Tony Park

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Value from Wisdom

Wisdom can create Value !

With the huge increase in information available on the Internet, further increased as it is shared across the world, there is a challenge on what is correct and how can we manage this avalanche of information.

This article below by Daniel Burrus, helps to understand the difference between information, knowledge and wisdom and how you can use it to grow your business.

Tony Park
Head Gardener - Business Gardener

Delivering Exceptional Value Using Your Knowledge and Wisdom

In today’s net-enabled knowledge economy, simply being a data dispenser or an information source for clients is no longer enough. Because the internet is so readily available and easy to use, people can get data and information instantly. As a result, any employee, no matter how high or low they are in the organization, who dispenses data and information is of little value to customers, and they will perceive both the employee and the organization as a time-wasting commodity. To truly stand out and be a valued resource for customers and clients, you need to go beyond dispensing data and information and bring knowledge and wisdom to the interaction.
Think of it as a triangle. At the base of the triangle is data. Going up, next is information, then knowledge, and then at the triangle’s peak is wisdom. Using this illustration, the higher you go up the triangle with people, the more value you add to the relationship.
Before the Internet became widely used in the early to mid 1990s, few people had access to data and information, so that’s where companies created value (think of the travel agents, stock brokers, and the order-taking salespeople of yesteryear). Today, however, virtually everyone has access to data and information, so the value in providing it is gone. And in fact, the more you dispense data and information to people, the more you’re wasting their time…and they know it. But the more knowledge and wisdom you give them, the more time (and money) you will save them and they’ll want to spend more time with you.
To truly understand how valuable knowledge and wisdom are, consider this scenario: Suppose a colleague is introducing you to someone who can help you solve a challenge you’re facing. Which of the following descriptions of the person hold the most merit to you and would make you feel comfortable talking with him or her:
  • “This person has access to a lot of data regarding your situation.”
  • “This person has access to a lot of information about your situation.”
  • “This person is very knowledgeable about your situation.”
  • “This person has proven to be very wise in helping people with your situation.”
Obviously, the real value is in the knowledge and wisdom someone can offer. So the question then becomes: How do you make sure you’re delivering knowledge and wisdom rather than data and information? The following points will help you focus your conversation for the most value.
  • Take a consultative approach during every customer/client encounter.
When you’re talking with prospects, customers and clients, make sure you’re providing actionable knowledge and wisdom rather than simply giving them data and information. Ask yourself, “Am I providing something the person can easily find online, or I am giving the person consultative value and insight they can’t find anyplace else?” In fact, you may even want to keep track of how much data, information, knowledge, and wisdom you typically dispense so you have an idea of how much value you are providing.
Of course, this approach doesn’t mean you won’t dispense a little data and information. However, when you’re talking with someone, you want to make sure you’re not wasting anyone’s time, including your own. After all, why talk for 30 minutes about data and information when you can send a link to the same material? When you save time you create value, which ultimately leads to more business.
  • De-commoditize yourself.
Since data and information are commodities, you need to de-commoditize yourself—even if you’re in an industry that’s viewed as a commodity. For example, travel agents still exist today. However, the ones who are successful have gone beyond dispensing data and information and have found a way to add consultative value to their clients. If you call a travel agent and the person simply gives you prices and schedules, there’s no value there, you could have found that online. However, if the travel agent you work with asks questions and learns that you are allergic to feather pillows, that you need extra legroom on flights, and that you prefer certain amenities and are willing to pay for them, now the agent is able to weed out your options and only suggest things that are important to you.
In this example, the travel agent is saving you time. Sure, you could find this information on your own, but it would take a lot of searching and phone calls. So even though the agent is technically giving you information, he or she is framing it in a way that adds value. The agent is adding personal knowledge and wisdom to the information and tailoring it for your specific needs.
Unfortunately, too many professionals are stuck at the basic data and information level. Those who make the shift to dispensing knowledge and wisdom are of higher value in the marketplace—they bring in the most business and earn the most money. That’s the position you want to be in for long-term success.
  • Ask better questions to uncover the customer’s real need.
Many times a customer will call and ask, “Do you stock Product A, and if so how much is it?” The customer is pushing you into a data and information mindset. But if you answer the question directly, you’re giving little value. That’s when you need to take control of the conversation by saying something like: “To give you the best possible answer, tell me what you’re trying to accomplish. I may be able to save you some money and time.” At this point, the customer will tell you why they are interested in the product, and you can potentially offer a better solution.
Most people buy something and then find that what they bought is not exactly what they wanted or needed. Or, it is what they wanted or needed, but only for a short time because something else would have given them better long-term results. For example, an adult may decide to get back into bicycle riding so they can get in shape. The person walks into a bicycle store and asks, “What’s the cheapest bicycle you have?” Rather than show the customer the cheapest bicycle, a salesperson who delivers value would ask such questions as, “What’s your goal for biking? How long has it been since you last rode a bicycle? Do you plan to ride on flat surfaces, or on hills and mountains? What’s you skill level?” Now the salesperson can give the customer a consultative answer versus a data or information answer.
The key is to begin a dialog with people. Sometimes the thing that’s the cheapest is the most expensive, because it’s the wrong thing and needs to be replaced quickly. However, when you prompt people to tell you what they really want, you can offer them a better long-term solution. Even more important, by asking questions, you’re beginning a relationship. You’re indirectly telling the other person, “I care about you.” In contrast, if you simply spurt out the data and information, you’re indirectly telling the person that they’re just another number to you. Questions always open the door to more business.
Value-Added Success
The future is all about relationships and adding value to people’s lives. Therefore, your goal is to create growing relationships that are thriving rather than shrinking relationships where you’re becoming less relevant or obsolete. Focusing on a consultative approach by sharing knowledge and wisdom is the key. Remember, data and information can be printed on a handout; knowledge and wisdom are based on experience and best delivered through dialog. The more you focus on the latter, the more satisfied your customers will be…and the more success you’ll attain.
DANIEL BURRUS is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and innovation experts, and is the founder and CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients understand how technological, social and business forces are converging to create enormous untapped opportunities. He is the author of six books including The New York Times best seller Flash Foresight.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Business Principles to Live By

Hi my friends,

In business it can be a positive path, with a clear goal, a sound action plan and reviews along the way -or it can be chaos like a pin ball machine moving from achievement and challenge along the way until something happens.

However both can be positive to achieve your overall life achievement if you have underlying principles to live by.

Below are 8 of those principles that can create a foundation for your business life, these are from Jeff Hayden.

These are the foundations for a good business - same as you need the foundations for a good garden.

I have had some great achievements and a few setbacks, but I have seen that I need more information and now finishing off a MBA - and loving it.

If you want assistance in any of these, contact me - Tony Park at the - I can assist you to make your business GREAT.

Tony Park

8 Business Principles that Last a Lifetime

Some business tenets tend to come and go. A company I worked for started a number of "game-changing" transformational programs only to quickly airbrush them out of our corporate history like a disgraced Politburo member so we could start yet another "business-critical" program.
We went from TQM to 5S to, shoot, I don't even remember. What I do know is that each was based on sound principles... but those principles tended to die with the program.
Fortunately I found some business principles I can follow forever. These are some of my favorites:
1. Focus on collecting knowledge...
Competing is a fact of professional life: with other businesses, other products, other people. (Business isn't a zero sum game, but it is a game we all try to win.)
Smart people win.
Smarter people win even more often.
Continually striving to gain more experience, more experience, and more knowledge is the second-best way to succeed. The best way?
2. ...And focus more on collecting knowledgeable people.
You can't know everything. But you can know enough smart people so together you know almost everything. And, together, you can do almost anything.
Work hard on getting smarter. Work harder on getting smart people on your side.
3. Give before receiving.
The goal of networking is to connect with people who can provide a referral, help make a sale, share important information, serve as a mentor, etc. When we network, we wantsomething.
But, especially at first, never ask for what you want. Forget about what you want and focus on what you can give. Giving is the only way to establish a real relationship and a lasting connection. Focus solely on what you can get out of the connection and you will never make meaningful, mutually beneficial connections. (If it's not mutually beneficial it's not a connection; it's a relationship where someone is getting used.)
Approach networking as if it's all about them and not about you, and you will soon build a network that feels the same way. Then you'll make more than just contacts.
You'll make friends.
4. Look past the messenger and focus on the message.
When people speak from a position of position of power or authority or fame, it's tempting to place greater emphasis on their input, advice, and ideas. Warren Buffett? Yep, gotta listen to him. Sheryl Sandberg? Yes. Richard Branson? Absolutely.
That approach works to a point--but only to a point. Really smart people strip away all the framing that comes with the source--both positive and negative--and evaluate information, advice, and input idea based solely on its merits.
When Branson says, "Screw it; just do it and get on with it," that's powerful. When the guy who delivers your lunch says it, shouldn't it be just as powerful?
Never discount the message because you discount the messenger. Good advice is good advice--regardless of the source.
5. Always work on next.
It's impossible to predict what will work, much less how well it will work. Some products stick--for a while. Some services flourish--and then don't. Some ventures take off--and flame out. Some careers thrive--and then don't.
You will always need a next: a new product, a new service, a new customer or connection, a new job or even career...
No matter how successful you are today, always have a next in your pipeline. If somehow your current career or business continues to thrive, great: You will still have created a bigger pipeline of potential positions or products or customers.
Always having a "next" is how successful people weather the storm when times are tough... and grow even more successful when business is booming.
6. Eat as many of your words as you can.
When you look back, one of the best things to be is wrong because when you make a mistake you are given the chance to learn. (If you're always right you never really grow.)
Don't worry. Every successful person has failed numerous times. Most have failed more than you--that's why they're so successful today.
Own every mistake, every miscue, and every failure. Say you made a mistake. Say you messed up. Say it to other people, but more importantly, look in the mirror and say it to yourself.
Then commit to making sure that next time you'll make things turn out differently.
7. Always turn ideas into actions.
The word "idea" should be a verb, not a noun, because no idea is real until you turn that inspiration into action.
Ideas without action aren't ideas; they're regrets.
Every day we let hesitation and uncertainty stop us from acting on our ideas. Fear of the unknown and fear of failure are what stop me, and may be what stops you, too. Think about a few of the ideas you've had, whether for a new business, a new career, or even just a part-time job. Many of those ideas would have turned out well if you had given them your best effort.
Trust your analysis, your judgment, and your instincts. Trust them more than you currently do. And definitely trust your willingness to work through challenges and roadblocks.
Granted you won't get it right all of the time... but when you let an idea stay an idea, you almost always get it wrong.
8. Check out squirrel nests.
Yeah, we're hyper-focused. Yeah, we've got our head down and our blinders on. Yeah, we're 24/7, take no prisoners, failure is not an option gals and guys.
But occasionally we all need to lighten up.
Take me. There are acres of woods behind our house. It's like squirrel paradise. They're always leaping from tree to tree and scampering across the deck.
When the leaves fall their nests are visible high up in the trees. I've seen nests for years and wondered what they're made of (besides leaves) and how many squirrels share a nest. One day I stopped wondering and took a break to check it out.
Kinda dopey? Sure. But it was a fun five minutes that made me appreciate my squirrel friends a little more--and sent me back to work with a little extra oomph.
Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Explore. Take occasional breaks and indulge a curiosity. Once in a while, take the time to learn a little about whatever your "squirrel nests" might be.
It's fun... and we can always use a little more of that.
What principles of your own will you always follow?
Jeff Hayden
(photo courtesy flickr user Victor1558)