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business culture

Connecting the What with the Why: How to Create Business Culture and Strategy the Right Way

“Everything rises and falls on leadership” is a phrase often heard in the startup and corporate arenas. As we’ve talked about in the past, leadership can be described by our influence on others. And with that influence automatically comes our business culture.

As creatives, we need to be aware of this culture that we’re building from the very beginning of launching our business.


Why is that?

Well, culture can be defined as a pattern of beliefs, behaviors, and values, encouraged or discouraged by people or processes over time.

So that means, whether we’re actively promoting a certain culture or not, one is being formed around the work we’re already doing.

So let’s talk a little bit about how we can get ahead of that culture as we’re scaling and growing our business.

It Starts with a Mission

Last week I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop called the Mission Roundtable. In this workshop, we focused on helping people in business find out what their personal and corporate missions were and then use that info to determine their values and vision. Once those were clear, we then set out to learn how we can create a unique strategy and culture for our business.

As you probably guessed, I was all about the part where we focused on determining our missions. This is something that I’ve thought about in quite a bit in the last year or so. In fact we recently had a guest on the podcast to discuss it.

Being part of this roundtable was not only clarifying for me, but also validated what I’ve been finding out.

For me, the reason I went into this research was fairly straight forward. As I’ve met more and more people in the entrepreneurial space, I’ve learned that many new entrepreneurs fail to learn how to connect who and what they’re about with the work that they’re doing.

The problem with this is that they’ll start doing one thing, realize they’re not being fulfilled, and then go on to try something else that might fulfill them.

Basically, they’re recreating a job for themselves.

Not only that, but many go hard core into this new role, go crazy with the grind, and come out the other end thinking “I’m more unhappy now than I was when I started!”.

Finding your own mission and being part of a company that reflects those qualities is an important foundation in doing meaningful work.

Vision and Values

Once we have our mission and have aligned it with our business (or the organization we’re a part of), then we can move onto the next step.

Determining what your vision and values are.

Now, I’m sure if you’re reading this post you know what both are. Your vision is simply where you want to be. And your values are the characteristics of yourself and your team as you get there.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably even written them down for yourself sometime in the past.

It’s possible what you haven’t done yet is to think of those values and your vision from the perspective of your personal and company mission. Even more, many of us might not even be fully using the vision or values we currently have in place.

If you’re not utilizing your current vision and values, why is that? Where’s the disconnect? If you’re not sure, it might be time to draw up a new vision and values to get you there. It might be as simple as the fact you might have a mission now, but the vision and values don’t fit that mission.

All of this should be aligned.

Strategy and Culture

Ok, now that we have those fundamental building blocks in place, it’s time to come back to our business culture and strategy.

Without vision, we can’t really develop a strategy. And without values, we’re going to have a heck of time developing a culture.

Now that we have those in place, though, we can now develop both.

Strategy

So first thing is strategy. Of course, when we’re developing a strategy for anything, we need to know what the rules of engagement are. We want to make sure the moves we’re making aren’t leaving anything on the table. We also want to make sure we’re being as efficient as possible. 

To do that, we need guidelines. 

Now that we have thought of our vision, we have these guidelines. 

We should also know 3 things:

  • What our company does.
  • Who the customer is.
  • What our customer values.

Once you know what those are, you can much more easily build your strategy.

  • Of course you want to begin with the end in mind, so what do you want to achieve in 3-5 years?
  • What options do you have to get there?
  • After choosing an option, what are your next steps? Reverse engineer from where you want to be from where you’re at.

Many make the mistake of not being clear with the answers to these questions, so while you might be taking action, you’re not actually getting anywhere because you haven’t clearly planned out what you want.

Culture

When it comes to building culture, for many creatives it’s seen as something that they can put on the back burner. What’s the point of building a culture when it’s perhaps just you and a few VA’s?

While this perspective might seem ok when you’re first starting up, it can cause big issues in the long run.

However, because we’ve already developed our list of values, then getting an idea for what our culture is isn’t really too difficult.

Organizational Clarity

First thing? Let’s look at the big picture and get organizational clarity. Here’s a few things to consider:

  • What’s our brand and story say about us? When people think of what we’re doing, what comes to mind? How are we described?
  • What’s the structure of the team? If it isn’t formed yet, what will it be? Will there be a hierarchy? Will it be centralized with you in the center? Or will you be part of a decentralized team?
  • What roles are there and what is each person in charge of? The more defined this is from the get go, the less problems there will be down the line.
  • What’s our communication process?

Leadership Clarity

When it comes to leadership in our organization we need to lead by example. Do that and I think you’re at least halfway to being a great leader.

That said it also helps to make sure that our team can work autonomously. While we might want certain things done a specific way, it’s important that we don’t feel the need to constantly micromanage.

However, many times we aren’t always at the top. And in those instances, we have to be aware of where we fit and interact with those around us. 

John Maxwell addresses this in the 360 Degree Leader. In the book, he shows middle managers how to leverage their unique positions and become 360 degree leaders by exercising influence in all directions–up (to the boss), across (among their peers), and down (to those they lead). 

While he goes into much more detail, the gist is that we need to do a few things as a middle manager:

  • Follow our leaders humbly. (Without being a yes man.)
  • Inspire those around us (by example).
  • Manage our subordinates individually. (Never criticize in public.)
  • Influence Lovingly (Don’t have an ulterior motive.)

Relational Clarity

Finally, when it comes to where the rubber really meets the road, it’s all about relationships. Another book of John Maxwell’s (and a favorite of mine) is called Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. And really, the better our relationships with those around us are, the better the system works.

To make sure that we’re connecting with those around us in our work, it’s important to focus on a handful of principles here as well:

  • Define and pursue the same goals (teams with goals win, those that don’t lose)
  • Believe in something bigger than ourselves (believe you’re in it for the greater good!)
  • Collaborate rather than compromise
  • Develop strong relationships (care about others, they’ll care about you)
  • When necessary, engage in constructive conflict resolution.

Action Steps

So as you can see, it’s imperative that we do the work to zero in on what our personal and business missions are. Only when we have them can we build on those to develop our culture. When we have the culture we want, it’s so much easier to build and scale our businesses simply because those folks who don’t fit, normally filter themselves out before they start working with you. 

If they do fit the culture, then it’s so much easier to move forward and actually accomplish goals.

So, again, if you haven’t done so yet, start from the beginning and determine your own personal mission by checking out Uncover Your Personal Mission. From there, work out the other sections until you have an idea for how things are going to be handled differently by your current or future team.

big business

Fractal Patterns: The Secret to Big Business

In the last post, we talked about the main passive income streams that are being utilized today. As part of the post, I briefly talked about fractal patterns being the secret to the B quadrant and big business.

Since that post, I’ve been thinking about how quickly I went through that description. I’ve felt I didn’t do it much justice. 

So, let’s get a little into what fractal patterns or fractals actually are. And, even more importantly, how the apply to internet based business so we can use them to grow your passive income.

The Basics

So a fractal is defined as… 

a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation.

Here’s a few examples:


I reiterated this in the last post by talking about how we see these patterns everywhere. One example is with giant sequoias. These trees interweave their roots with each other so that no one particular tree supports the weight of itself. They’re tied to the mesh of these roots. It’s because of this that the trees are able to grow huge in size.

Behold, the Giant Sequoia Network!

In this example, the tree itself is a node where the root system connects the tree to others by acting as branches of a larger organism – a larger system, the forest.

As you can see in the image below, branches connect nodes to each other. Tree A has roots which are intertwined with roots of trees B and C. They, in turn, have their roots interlaced with all the others of the forest.

Parts of a System

They are part of a larger system.

Forms of Systems

So if trees are nodes in a forest, and a forest is system, what else can a system take the form of?

Well, if we understand the word system as “a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network”, we can think of a city as a system. And just like we’re part of that system, we have systems that are part of us (circulatory, lymph, nervous, etc.).

That said, where we and forests consist of natural systems, a city is a form of a designed system.

Designed systems are systems which we as people have designed. And one such system is the internet. A fractal system built on servers (nodes) and communication wires (branches).

Interconnections of Facebook Users Across the Globe

How the Internet Changed the Game of Commerce

Before the internet, the only systems that existed which transported information were owned by large corporations. These included newspaper, TV, and radio companies. Since the big companies owned them, they were in control of the information which they transmitted. To this day, this is how these networks generally work.

However, due to the internet growing up and becoming the behemoth it has become, they’re having to compete with the open flow of data and commerce. And since they seem to not change how they do things, they’re losing quite a bit of money and influence. In the last 15 years, a lot of people have stopped reading newspapers, watching network TV, and listening to the radio.


As business owners ourselves, we can capitalize on this change of interest and focus. To do that, we can go where the eyeballs have gone – search engines and social media.

Leveraging Internet Commerce Today

At one point, about 10 years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much competition on the web for these eyeballs. Not only that, but the way that sites were indexed on Google and how posts were shared on Facebook was completely different. If you knew how to do SEO properly, you could rank fairly well on Google, and if you posted regularly on Facebook, you’d get plenty of exposure.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works today. Organic growth through posting has dwindled to 5% (if not lower) and there’s way too many people to compete with on search engines. 

So the question is, how do you use these particular systems/networks to get your business noticed these days? 


Well, unfortunately (or fortunately?) through ads on social media and search engines.

Remember that Facebook (and the internet for that matter) is based on fractal patterns. So what works for you on a small scale with a handful of clients can be advertised to those who share the same demographics.

However, paying to play in ads isn’t something they think they have a budget for. But, what they’re not seeing is the opportunity they’re missing. 

The reason you would WANT to post ads is that you can specifically market to the people in your niche. The more money that is spent, the more likely Facebook’s algorithm will figure out who exactly you’re looking for. For example, with America Multi-Sport we’ve been placing ads for years now every week. That’s plenty of time for Facebook’s system to know who you want to get in front of.

Of course, the algorithm can only do so much. You still have to create copy that creates a desire to take action.

Action Steps

I hope this gives you a little perspective on what fractals are and how they’re used to create passive income. 

Remember, even though I shared the idea of using the Facebook network as a system to make use of with ads, you can use others as well. 

In fact you can use your own! 

One of the books I’m reading called The Power of Who talks about how knowing just a few people will launch you to wherever you want to go. We each have a handful of people in our lives who are highly connected themselves. It’s your job to figure out who those people are and how you can leverage (notice I didn’t say use) them to get where you want to go.

Sure this method is a bit more manual and slower. But you actually have control of who your message is being delivered to.

passive income streams

Popular Passive Income Streams in Modern Business

Passive Income is a topic that many still struggle with today in 2019. And, I have to admit, while I understand why people aren’t too familiar with the concept, it still kind of blows my mind. Personally, I think it’s been 18 years since I first read Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad and his second book, Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant. Since then I’ve picked up the basics of developing passive income streams and understanding how it all works. In this post, we’re going to explore the top 8 methods of developing passive income.

Yes, it’s really that simple!

I Quadrant Opportunities

If you’re familiar with Robert Kiyosaki’s work, you’ll recognize his company, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Robert himself is a fan of all passive income opportunities, however, when he originally wrote his first book, his experience was via Real Estate Investing (REI) and Traditional Investing through Stocks, Bonds, 401k’s, Mutual Funds, etc.

Real Estate Investing (REI)

REI is probably one of the most well represented options out there. However, when most people think of REI, they believe that they can’t get in the game. In fact, I remember starting to read Robert’s book Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing when I was in college and thinking “When I get a real income when I’m out of college, this will be how I make my fortune!”

While I still haven’t gone that route, it’s definitely something I see myself eventually getting into.

If this is a track you might be interested in, I’ve had several REI success stories on the show:

Chris Prefontaine (AoL 155)

Damion Lupo (AoL 125)

Kevin Bupp (AoL 124)

Whitney Nicely (AoL 123)

Traditional Investing

Outside of REI, when most people think of passive income, they think of making money through stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. 401k’s fit in this area as well.


While this isn’t necessarily a bad topic to think about, I will say that if you do the math, it takes about $1.25M to be invested in various assets to yield a comfortable $50k+ per year income.

Thing is, most people won’t ever smell that kind of lump sum amount in their career working a day job. However, there are tactics you can use to save a little bit here and there to eventually make that work out. Fortunately, you can read material by folks like Dave Ramsey to make this more of a reality than a dream.

Also, if this is an arena you’d want to play in, I’d also recommend checking out Tony Robbins’ book Money: Master the Game

B Quadrant Opportunities

If you’re already in the S Quadrant, you should definitely look at the B Quadrant!

In the I Quadrant, we’re mainly focused on making our money work for us to make more money. However, again, not everyone has access to that seed money to get up and running. So what’s one to do if they want to get in the passive income game?

They should totally look at the B Quadrant. The B standing for Big Business or Business Systems. These terms can be used interchangeably because you can’t have a big business without harnessing the power of business systems.

What’s great about the B Quadrant is that it’s the scaled up version of the S Quadrant. The main difference being that while in the S Quadrant you’re capped by the activity you can put in yourself, in the B Quadrant you can grow your business through fractal patterns or fractals. If you’re unfamiliar with fractals, a basic example is a tree in a forest. A tree has a trunk, limbs, branches, and twigs. They all are formed using a pattern of nodes and branches. Depending on the type of tree, however, the pattern might keep going. 

Most trees have a tap root that counterbalances the tree and keeps it in the ground. When the tree is growing, a lot of energy is put into creating that tap root.

However, Giant Sequoia trees have a network of roots that support the entire forest like a mesh. Sure, a tree can grow by itself and support itself, but Sequoias, being the largest trees in existence have evolved to support each other in this network. The trees themselves act as the nodes, while the roots act as the branches. 

So simply saying when it comes to fractals, the larger the network, the more potential for growth.

Traditional “Tried and True” Opportunities

The B Quadrant isn’t anything new. In fact, you probably already know of examples of people who are successful in this quadrant.

Insurance

As long as there’s been insurance, there’s been agencies. And insurance has been around a pretty long time.

When someone takes the leap from being an agent and starting their own insurance agency, then they’re taking a step into the world of the B Quadrant. Those agencies can continue to grow to a point where they train other agents and agencies. At this point they become a Field Marketing Organization (FMO). Their most basic role is to offer insurance products, services and possibly training to insurance agents or agencies.

An example of one here in Indiana is Gordon Marketing.

Franchising

Using the same idea as an insurance FMO, a business can eventually grow to the point where they franchise the model of their business.

Like insurance, the idea of franchising goes way back to the Middle Ages. However, the franchising that we’re aware of today didn’t really start until after World War II.

Of course, one of the most well known franchises is McDonald’s. And luckily for us, a movie was released about the man who built the franchise. The Founder is the story of Ray Kroc and his journey to create the business that we know today.

It’s easy to see that this method of creating passive income works. There’s more franchises today than ever! In fact, there’s so many suburbs of one city resemble those of another city.

Personal Franchising

When it comes to franchising, you can do it one of two ways. The first is the more familiar route we just talked about. However, one issue with this method is that it can take quite a bit of startup capital.

Most people don’t have a spare $10k+ just sitting around.

So they participate in the age old tradition of direct sales. Direct sales is defined as “The direct personal presentation, demonstration, and sale of products and services to consumers, usually in their homes or at their jobs.” With that kind of definition, you could say that just about any kind of sales outside of a traditional store or place of business is a form of direct sales.

Many direct sales companies today allow their sales associates or Independent Business Owners to sponsor other people to do what they do. One of the oldest companies that is set up to do specifically this is Amway. In fact, the reason  Amway was created, was so that anyone could have the capability to start their own business. At the same time, they’d also have the support from those who sponsored them as well as the company itself. 

If you’d want to know more about this form of direct sales, often referred to as multi-level marketing, you can check out our friend Robert Kiyosaki has to say on the subject. Interestingly, it’s how he met his wife Kim!

Like Robert, I highly recommend checking out this path if you’re stuck in the E Quadrant and want to quickly move to the B. Or even if you’re in the S Quadrant and don’t have enough to pursue the other options we’ve talked about so far.

Here’s a couple of folks I’ve had on the show who are experts in Direct Sales:

Mark Nathan (AoL 23)

Jeff Gamble (AoL 156)

Licensing

I’d be admiss if I didn’t cover the topic of licensing and what that means. Basically, it’s the sharing of Intellectual Property (IP) from one company (company A) to another (company B) in agreement that if the company B uses the company A’s IP, company A gets a commission. While it is similar to franchising, franchises differ in that they are in charge of how company B is actually ran. In licensing, while company A might have recommendations and regulations set, it’s pretty much left to company B to work out their own systems of operation.

As an owner of America Multi-Sport, I’ve had first hand experience to see how this can work out. While on the surface it might seem like a great idea since you’re skipping over some pretty hefty fees to actually make a franchise, there’s a good chance you’re going to fall behind. Since your licensees don’t have to operate to a certain standard, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Just with us, we’ve had a handful of licensees come and go in the last couple of years simply because they couldn’t do what we recommended to them.

However, just because it hasn’t been overly successful with us doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. The NFL got started the same way. Even though it’s had its ups and downs,  it’s celebrating 100 seasons!

Internet Powered Opportunities

Now that we’ve covered forms of opportunities that have been around 100 years or more, let’s look at a few things that have popped up in the last 20 due to the advent of the internet.

Scaled S Quadrant Work

If you’re more familiar with the podcast, you know that a number of the guests are simply people who have taken their service to the next level. They’ve found their Ikigai and have used technology to build a lifestyle that they’re proud of. Of the numerous hats I wear as an entrepreneur, one is helping people take their solopreneur business and scaling it through technology if they haven’t done so themselves. 

Of course, there’s different ways to capitalize on technology. You can become a digital nomad where the only work you do is through your laptop as you travel the world. Or you can start a brick and mortar agency that offers a service which can be executed online. Or perhaps you already have an agency and you’re up to your eyeballs in work and need help with all the work that’s coming your way.

There’s ways to do all of this. It really depends on what you want to do. Of course if you’d like help with this, shoot me an email. I’d love to help you get to the next level.

Affiliate Marketing

The internet has brought on another form of direct sales called e-Commerce or internet marketing. Today, most of us no longer go to places of business and buy something on the spot. We opt to do our shopping from the comfort of our own home.

Lots of online business owners get their start in internet marketing by pedaling other company’s products or services. Most of the reviews that you see on YouTube, have an affiliate link in their description that you can buy the product through them and they get a commission. 

In fact, Pat Flynn did pretty much this for years. However, as his platform grew, so did his need to create his own online products.

Influencer Marketing

When I first learned of Pat, I also learned of Brendon Burchard and his course called Expert’s Academy. Today I think he’s called it the Influencer Academy because more people are familiar with that term on Instagram.

The idea of Influencer Marketing is pretty straight forward. If you have an engaged audience, you have a list of potential buyers. The bigger the audience, the more potential buyers.

You make a product specifically designed for that audience, and there’s a good chance they’re going to buy from you. Why? Because of your influence on them through that engagement!

Typically speaking, those products take the form of digital products like courses and eBooks. That said, it’s not uncommon to see books, audios, and videos released by people in this arena.

Anyway, here’s the catch. It’s important that we never confuse three things. 

  • Don’t confuse your platform with your income. 
  • Don’t confuse your income with your career.

When people are getting started in the online entrepreneur space, many times they believe that they need to become an influencer way before they’re successful in making income. Problem is, you can’t really be an influencer unless you have some form of success in your career. They’re putting their platform ahead of their income.

To correct this, we need to learn how to separate the idea of these two. Sure your income will be multiplied as you become an influencer, but if you don’t have any income, you’re essentially multiplying by 0. 

So the next time you hear the phrase “become the next influencer” and think it’s a great idea, make sure that you already have a proven business based on the material that you want to help the masses with.

SaaS Platform

Finally, the last option I’ll mention because it’s the last category I’m personally familiar with is building a Software as a Service (SaaS) Platform. Now, doing this is just like building any other kind of business. You have to start small and in a well defined niche.

What I learned from Dane Maxwell (AoL 56) and his program called the Foundation is that if you’re creating something from scratch, you really need to do your homework up front. Find out what the people really want.

However, because it’s a product and not a service, you’re going to have to learn how to do a little bit of pre-selling the concept. Especially if you’re creating it without using your own funds. Why? Because hopefully, you’re going to hire someone to do the programming for you! 

Once you have the online tool built with the help and funding of your “champions” and early users, then you can market it and build your influencer platform like any other online business.

Action Steps

So, lots of information here! 

Hope that it provides some value and gives you a bit of clarity.

Again, if you haven’t, I really recommend getting started with reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and the Cashflow Quadrant. Everyone should be financially literate and these are great starting manuals on passive income. 

From there, feel free to connect with me. We can do a strategy session based on where you’re at and what your needs are.

personal effectiveness

Interpersonal Effectiveness – One of Four Important Topics Not Taught in School

When I first started New Inceptions, I had a ton of ideas of what I could help people with. At the time, I had learned so much during my time in LTD that I thought that it would benefit others that didn’t have the opportunity. One of the biggest things that I started learning about at the time, was how to increase my interpersonal effectiveness. 

All the way up through grad school, I always struggled to convey my ideas and build emotional connections with my peers. Many times, I felt like the odd guy out. Of course, a large part of that was that I grew up an only child. And as any only child can tell you, we learn to amuse ourselves in our own time.

So while I had friends in school who were a lot like me, I felt it hard to connect with people who weren’t. In fact, in high school, I remember getting incredibly anxious as I tried to engage with popular people.

I simply didn’t realize that there were all these self development books out there that could have helped me understand how to connect with others better.

In this post, we’re going to look at some of the things that we can get better at when it comes to Interpersonal Effectiveness.

What is Interpersonal Effectiveness?

There’s a lot of topics that aren’t taught in school these days. Even more so today than when I was going through junior high through high school. For example, I remember taking both home economics and shop classes. Heck, I actually got credit to learn how to drive a car.

Today, those types of classes simply aren’t available to your typical high schooler. Instead, most high schools are focused on teaching for their state’s standards test. And while this might be a metric to measure a students hard skills, their soft skills are left behind.

Interpersonal effectiveness refers to the skills which help us to:

  • Attend to relationships
  • Balance priorities versus demands
  • Balance the ‘wants’ and ‘shoulds’
  • Build a sense of mastery and self-respect

And wow, I have to admit there are a ton of skills that fit this description.

Skills to Help You Be More Effective with Others

So let’s take a look of this grocery list of skills. Here’s a list that comes to mind in no particular order:

  • General Communication and Conversation
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Civic Awareness (Government, Religion, Law, Volunteerism, Philanthropy, etc.)
  • Negotiation
  • Intimate Relationship Building
  • Digital Etiquette (including Social Media Safety)
  • Manners
  • Sales
  • Finding a Job
  • Marriage / Family Dynamics
  • Leadership
  • Networking
  • Entrepreneurship

Wow – just wow. Right? I mean, if you’ve been out of academia for any period of time, you probably realize how important many of these skills are. 

Personally, the two that have made the biggest impact in my life up to this point are emotional intelligence and entrepreneurship. 

As I mentioned, growing up I had no idea that others had different personalities and motivators. I didn’t even really understand what I should do when someone gave me a compliment. I was sooo totally awkward!

As I’ve learned more and more about entrepreneurship, I’ve realized a couple of things. First, and foremost, is that it’s what makes the US amazing. When done right, nothing beats the free market system. Another thing I’ve realized is that most of these skills actually play a role in some way or another. For example, if you’re a better leader, you’re a better business owner. Or, as another example, if you’re good at negotiation, you might be able to get more for less.

Action Steps

Anyway, I just wanted to point out some of these skills out as we continue going down this journey of life.

Personally for me, I feel I need to master sales and negotiation a bit more. Luckily, there’s all kinds of resources out there.

What are some skills you’ve already been developing? What are the ones that make you think “Oh, I should probably work on that a bit more…”? Do a bit of an inventory for yourself and list what you would like to know more about.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Other topics that aren’t discussed in school include Mindset (how you talk to yourself), Financial Literacy, and what I call “Ikigai Maximization”. We’ll be sure to go over some of these topics in the future as well!

interview preparation tips

4 Interview Preparation Tips for Your Podcast

Recently I had the opportunity to be a producer for a podcast which is in the beginning phase for Pass the Torch here in Indianapolis. I have to admit, it was a fun and rewarding experience. The host, Amna was super professional and she had some pretty qualified guests on to discuss the topics of office politics and professional development. During the break between the two episodes, she asked if I had any interview preparation tips for getting ready for the second show. Off the top of my head, I had a few things that I could share. 

But it got me thinking – what are certain things that podcasters need to think about as they’re starting their show; or for that matter, as they move up the mastery ladder?

The Magic Ingredients

As podcasters, we should always be trying to get better at our craft. Of course, this is true for every profession out there. And just like every other profession, there are certain skills that podcasters need to be aware of to get better at what they’re doing.

Audio

If you’ve been around the AoL Podcast over time, you might have realized that early on, my audio quality was much worse than it is now. It took me quite a while to even begin to understand the intricacies of good audio.

I started with a crisp impersonal sound which wasn’t very inviting to what it is today – a warmer personal quality which hopefully makes listeners feel like they’re in the same room as the conversation.

This process took quite a while – perhaps over the course of 6 months? And during that time, I was publishing weekly. Yikes!  Today, while I don’t feel it’s perfect, I do have a few folks in my network who call me a bit of an audiophile.

Show Prep and Questioning

When it comes to prepping for a show, there’s definitely two extremes. On one side you can be completely scripted out. This might include doing all kinds of research and having certain questions prepared for the chat. If you go this route, the plus is that you have the potential to have a conversation with your guest that they might not have had already. This will separate your show from those who ask the same questions. The more unique your questions, the more new information your audience might receive. An example of this kind of podcast host is Jordan Harbinger.

On the other hand, you can have minimal show prep. This approach might include going over a handful of the guest’s work, simply to get an idea of what they’re about, and ask discovery type questions during the actual interview. While you might not get unique questions, you will have a conversation which is much more natural and curiosity driven.

A few people who have used this approach in their interviewing over the years is Larry King and his long time friend Cal Fussman.

General Production and Publishing

Finally, when it comes to having a successful podcast, there’s something to be said about all the other aspects of getting the show to the audience. The raw audio itself might need to be edited. There might need to be a transcript of the show or a page of show notes made. Or perhaps, your show needs regular guests. Getting ahold of those guests and making arrangements for them to be on your show will take some effort as well.

These are things you’ll need to consider as you’re putting your show together as well.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

If you don’t have the skillset or time to do any one of these parts, then you might need to hire help to get it done. It really depends on what you want the final product to be and how much time you have to put into it.

If you need help doing any particular part (outside of the actual conversation!) shoot me an email. I’ll connect you to someone reputable in the business.

Action Steps

I’ve actually written about some of these topics in the past. So if you want to know more specific steps about what all goes into making a podcast, then you can check those pieces out:

I don’t pretend to be the best at interviewing guests by any means. However, what I do works well for me. Let’s just say that I’m on the side of overpreparation. 

So if the art of interviewing is something you want to know more about, there are a couple of current courses I’m aware of that can help you out. One is from Larry King himself and the other is by past guest Michael O’Neal.

Rumor also has it that Jordan Harbinger will be putting out his own interviewing course in the not too distant future. He’s looking to get other people on board with that, so stay tuned for more information on that front.

entrepreneurial finance

Real World Strategies in Entrepreneurial Finance

This past week I had another chance to go to a business accelerator event here in Indy. This one was hosted by Techstars, who helps sports based businesses with entrepreneurial finance here in Indiana.

As I was listening to the pitches by various companies, (some I’m sure you’ll be hearing about soon in your everyday life!) I started thinking about how some of them had seen such great success in fairly quick periods of time.

Not only were there founders from these various companies in the room, but they were joined by representatives from sports partners from around the city. This included the Pacers, the Colts, Indiana Sports Corp, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and others.

Soon I started thinking about a common connection of the talent I saw in the room. The success here was different than you hear about from the online entrepreneurial world.

The companies in the room were talking about sustainable growth and building opportunity and jobs in the community. Online, you hear more about “earn $5k in your first month doing…”.

In short, it’s looking at long term decisions yielding true wealth vs short term hustle.

And, really, I think successful online entrepreneurs are doing their followers and students a disservice. On top of how to create income online, they should also teach them how to leverage the funds they already have to keep growing!

The Hustle Approach to Finances

When we think of online business, many of us think of 24/7 hustle. We think if you’re not working, than you’re limiting yourself. Why hang out with friends and family when you should be out there making content or the next deal? It’s only when you’ve been successful doing these things that you’ll have your Ferrari and nice high-rise apartment. 

So go out and get it done!

Well, for one, that mentality doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone in business. There’s people who aren’t the best hustlers, but they’re great at making the hustlers around them more efficient.

And, two, this thought process suggests that you can always outearn any financial issues that you’re having. If you just bring in more income, you’ll be richer.

That isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, I’d say that more often than not, when people earn more, they’ll spend more. And if your goal is to be wealthy in all aspects of your life, this method isn’t going to get you too far.

That said, there’s other bad financial decisions a business owner can make. So let’s take a look at those before we start improving our decision making.

Bad Entrepreneurial Financial Habits

When it comes to where people go wrong with their finances, there’s a few that are pretty widespread. Here’s a few examples:

No Personal Organization

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met first time entrepreneurs who don’t know anything about keeping records of their business. They don’t have a system for receipts, they don’t have a business banking account, and really, they’re not sure what their actual profit is.

No Tax Strategy

So, of course, because they’re not actively keeping track of their expenses and profit, there’s really no existence of accounting. So, everything gets cramped up to the last 2 or 3 weeks before the yearly tax deadline. And really, that makes things so much more stressful than it needs to be.

Money Is Earned to Spend

On the podcast, one of the questions I occasionally ask the rapid fire question segment is “What is something that all high school students must know?”. Often, the response is something to do with the management of finances.

We live in a world where we’ve grown up with media telling us to “Buy New, Buy Now”. Consumerism is king. If you don’t actively participate, you’re not part of the “in crowd”. So without financial education in schools, thinking that you have to keep up with the Kardashians is pretty prevalent.

As I’ve found out, wealthy people and successful entrepreneurs know how to create cash flow, but they also know how to manage their finances.

Changing Your Financial Paradigm

If any of the above sound like habits that you use in your business and life, it might be time to make a few tweaks.

Here are a few basic concepts I’ve learned about managing wealth.

Think of Money as Water

When I think about money, I look at it as a resource. In fact, I look at it like I would water in a post-apocalyptic world like you’d find in The 100 or Mad Max.

In that type of environment, water is more than just water. It’s a commodity. And because water is vital to life, clean water is going to be in short supply. Just like money is today for so many people.

If we had a way of providing clean drinking water in that world, we’d have the potential to be on the top of society.

Same thing is true with your business and its ability to make more money at will.

With that type of mindset, I think it’s easier to get a grasp on how money should be used. Here’s a couple of habits you can practice to be more successful in this arena.

Keep Track of It

If we’re looking at money as a resource that we have to be smart with we need to have metrics on where we’re at any specific time. In our analogy, we need to know how much is going out to the market. We also need to know if anyone is stealing any.

So with that in mind, it’s important that we get used to regularly checking our bank account. On top of that, we need to keep track of income and expenditures. 

Get used to asking yourself and tracking:

  • How much do we plan to make versus how much we actually did. 
  • How much do we predict to spend versus how much we actually did.

Cut things out when necessary.

Build Up a Reserve

If you’re the person in charge of delivering clean water to a community in this new world, you might want to consider something.

What if there’s a problem in getting the water? What if the rain doesn’t fall or the wells don’t work? How long does it take for you and the leaders of the community to start growing concerned?

If your business functions on the funds that you get directly from income, then you might have a potentially huge problem. Be prepared and build at least a month’s reserve of cash for emergencies. Or even better, perhaps 90 days or more. The bigger the reserve, the more insurance you give yourself to be able to dig yourself out of a bad situation.

However, just like water that sits in a reservoir or lake, if money isn’t moving, it’s not doing you any good. Naturally, if water is stagnant, then it tends to go bad. A great example of this is the Salton Sea in California. However, if there’s inflow and outflow of water such as a river, then the water is useful for sustaining life.

Same thing for money. If money is stagnate, then we tend to get overprotective of that money. Being frugal and smart with money is one thing. Being a miser and potentially those around you miserable, is another. You don’t want to be a Scrooge from a Christmas Carol.

Leverage Your Position

As this successful water provider, you’re doing your job well when everyone is getting an adequate supply. If people feel like this isn’t a problem, then it’s one less stresser in their life. Heck, the more they have, the less they think about it.

What if your community has such a huge reservoir of water that you can start using it to trade with other communities who might not be so lucky?

At that point, you’re leveraging your position with the excess of your resource to get things in return. Sure, you might not have as much water left over in your reserve, but you are gaining things in exchange for it. Which those might be more valuable in your own community than water.

In our business, it’s a bit more simple. The more money we have in reserve, the more options we have. We need to know the difference between liabilities (fancy cars, eating out, partying, etc.) vs assets (using better tools, hiring a team, etc) when it comes to making more money. The more assets you have, the greater potential we have for generating more income.

Action Steps

So, to help you make this transition, I have a few recommendations for you to start getting better at finance. 

The first thing I’d recommend is read or listen to Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And really think about anything that the author Robert Kiyosaki has to say. He has a good enough track record that students at Purdue’s entrepreneurship department used his info in creating their own businesses when I was there.

Next, I’d recommend getting a business bank account. Keep business money separate from your personal money.

Also, I’d develop something (maybe even a spreadsheet) to monitor your cash flow. Again, how much are you forecasting yourself to earn? How much did you earn in comparison? Same thing with expenditures? Where can you cut out if necessary? This information is great to have if you ever hire an accountant to help.

Finally, I’d look into subscribing to Quickbooks and anything else that might make your accounting easier. If you don’t have a business credit card that you put all your expenditures on (which I highly recommend) then you’ll need to manually keep track of receipts. You can do it as you go with Quickbooks, but if you like waiting to the end of the month, you can use a service like Shoeboxed to do it all for you.

team culture

5 Ingredients in Developing a Strong Team Culture

This morning I had the opportunity to go to the Next Level Indiana Fund Summit. It was an event where members of the capital venture arena addressed what the scene looks like here in Indiana. These members included government officials, representatives from the various funds, and entrepreneurs who had successfully built their businesses through funding. As I listened to these talks, a particular concept came up to me again and again. Each organization had a strong team culture.

What’s a Strong Team Culture Look Like?

When you think of a team culture, you might think of a particular sports team. I’ve written about various examples of sports teams with great cultures in the past. Duke Basketball, Duke Football, and the Colts are recent examples.

From these examples, we can see that culture is made up of certain parts. A culture has values, beliefs, attitudes and the certain behaviors that are important to the team. We can also see that if culture isn’t intentionally defined from the start, it will likely be defined by the weakest link.

If we let it get this far, then that’s when we feel we have to implement all kinds of precise rules, processes, and systems.  When this happens, members of the team feel like their personal perspective doesn’t matter. It demotivates your A-Team members. That becomes a much bigger problem REAL quick!

Essentially this is what we saw with the Colts when Ryan Grigson was General Manager. While he might have been a great talent scout and brought in a few good assets to the team, unfortunately, he didn’t set the right culture. Therefore, when then coach Chuck Pagano had to do his job, he practically had to babysit the players for every play. Unfortunately, he wasn’t too great at being a micro-manager and we ended up with plays like this. As a result, over time there was an overall feeling of distrust between the players, coaching staff, and the front office.

When Chris Ballard came in to take the reigns, he knew this had to change. So, from the very get-go, he started to define the new culture of the team. Add in Frank Reich last season, and you have a team of high trust, where the effective players believe in each other, the organization, and where it’s going.

Building a Strong Culture

So now that we have a bit of an idea of what a bad culture can yield vs a good culture, how do we build a strong one?

A good example of building a strong culture can, again, be seen in this recent post about the Duke football team.

But if I was to summarize that particular post, there’s a few takeaways that we need to have.

1. Single Team Vision

The first thing we need to realize is that while a team might have many voices, it has one mission and one vision. This means that the vision is a team effort – including the leadership. When they act and do things a particular way, the team will take notice and start to do what they see leadership doing.

Meaning, if the leadership wants the team to put in the hard work, they’ll have to put in work first.

Remember there’s no such thing as leading from behind.

2. Abundant Belief

The next thing we should notice is that a winning team believes that it is a winning team. This means that the leaders believe in the team, the team believes in each other and the leadership, and even more so, each individual on the team believes in themselves.

3. Appreciation of Ourselves and the Team

Many times, we leaders have a hard time appreciating our own little wins. Reason often is that we’re so focused on accomplishing the vision that the little wins we have along the way, don’t really count. They’re what’s supposed to happen. We might feel a little bit of satisfaction, but that’s about it.

However, when something doesn’t go quite the way we want it, that’s when we usually get somewhat emotional. And it’s because of this tendency that many of us tend to get sucked up into a downward emotional spiral.

That being the case, as leaders, we need to so gratitude towards our own accomplishments as well as those of our team members. If you need help with this, there’s a few resources I’d recommend. The first is the Five Minute Journal. If you’re not familiar with this journal, it’s an actual daily journal that helps you appreciate the things that went right during the day. That way you can get in the habit of appreciating what’s going right for you personally. If a hands on version isn’t your style, there’s an app for both iOS and Android.

Then, there’s the 5 Love Languages. And while many think this is for romantic relationships, there’s actually an edition for the workplace. This book is useful when you’re trying to learn how to show your appreciation of those in your immediate circle.

And last but not least is the John Maxwell book called the 25 Ways to Win with People. If you’re familiar with his book called Winning with People, then you’ll want to grab this whenever you need a refresher.

4. Active Participation in Team Discussions

One of the things I’ve noticed with winning teams is that all members of the team have a chance to input their thoughts on what’s going on. As a leader, it’s your job to help the members of your team feel that they’re welcome to offer their input. Of course the best way to get them to do this is to ask more questions. And when they respond, actually pay attention and get clarity on what they’re saying.


When we pay attention to the members of our team, we can bring out the best in them.

5. Live with Intention

As with all things, we need to keep focus on the fundamentals. So, it’s important that we keep our vision in front of us. If you work with your team in person, put the vision somewhere where people are constantly reminded of it. For example, the Colts have done this by issuing a shirt that reads 1-0 – meaning do what you can do now to put yourself in a position to win the next game.

With this focus on fundamentals, it’s easier for leadership to develop and uphold a particular standard of work ethic.

Action Steps

Ideally, the best time to start working on a team culture is when you’re new to a position. It was always so much easier for me to set the expectations of a classroom on the first day as opposed to week 5 or later.

However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you need to develop a culture for a team you’ve been leading for awhile, then there’s no better time than now to get started.

Of course, you’ll have to use a little bit of change management to successfully move the team from where they are to where they need to be.

So, a possible suggestion of this is to give them the new vision and let members of the team help you figure out the details in how that’s going to be accomplished. Then once you have the details in place, work on the expectations. How are you going to do things and how will they do what they need to get done? And then after that is determined, work with them on figuring out a process of accountability. What happens when they don’t get a certain task done a certain way and on time?

Using this type of communication will certainly help your team form and develop a new culture.