lessons learned in life

10 BIG Lessons Learned in Life Since Graduating College

It’s funny, but sometimes I hear myself in the podcast saying phrases like “back in college…” or “back in grad school…” like it was the height of my education. I play it as if I haven’t learned much since then. But, when I think about it, I wouldn’t trade the experiences and knowledge I’ve gained since then for anything. When it comes to lessons learned in life, there’s a few things I can think of.

If anything, I’ve picked up quite a bit more wisdom in the last ten years. Much more than I had when I was “formally” trained. In this post, I’ll share some of the things I’ve learned along the way that might be impossible to learn in school.

College is Not For Everyone

When I was growing up, the expectation for me was that I would go to college. There wasn’t a question about it. Both of my parents had gone and, on top of that, they both had Masters degrees. So my bar was set. (Thankfully I’ve always loved learning and putting ideas together!)

Because of that, I figured that I might as well get a PhD and go the professor route. I saw what my mom was able to do during her summers as a teacher, so I thought if I put in a little bit more time that I’d be able to have an even longer summer!

Well, I get to grad school and that’s when my real education in life started. Not only did I learn that becoming a tenured professor is about as likely as getting struck by lightning, but there would be a lot of politics along the way. And, me being a staunch Republican at the time, I’d always be on the losing end of the battle.

At the same time, I was teaching an organizational leadership course six times a week to roughly 30 students in each class. While I was teaching the course, I started to realize that many students were checking out during class. And, while they might be present in that you could have a conversation with them, they didn’t seem to be involved in the class material.

They weren’t learning.

As a lifelong learner, I was naturally good at absorbing knowledge. So this was a little odd to me. The next course I ended up teaching was basically an Honors course, so I didn’t really have much of a repeating pattern.

Until I started teaching algebra at the junior college level.

Algebra… 

And, wow… talk about people who wanted to be anywhere but in the classroom… most of those students were there to have better opportunities in their career. Not to learn algebra.

So I started wondering: how many classes are like this in college? Of the three courses I taught, with drastically different material, two of them had participants who were just going through the motions to pass.

It occured to me at that point that the product that colleges might be producing are people who didn’t learn much of anything during their time there. They simply learned how to play the game of memorizing material and regurgitating it for tests.

If that’s the case, what’s the point of going in the first place? If money is the end goal, there’s better choices out there to make that money than a job. Especially with the birth and growth of the Sharing Economy. You can build your own job if that’s really your thing.

Don’t Be a Victim

This one is pretty straight forward. People who place the blame on others for their place in life never really get much traction. It’s only when they take responsibility and action that they can actually start succeeding in life. When people start moving forward and getting results, others start to notice. Many times, they’re inspired by the person to take control of their own life in some way. 

Random case: I ended up seeing Bad Boys for Life recently and in the beginning of the movie, Will’s character gets shot up. It was out on the street while he was having a good time with his friends. Obviously not his fault that he gets placed in critical care in the hospital, right?

Now the rest of the movie is based on what the next decision is. Does he cower and let the rest of the police department go after whoever did the drive by? Or should he go after the perp Bad Boys style?

You wouldn’t have much of a Will Smith movie without him choosing to do something about it.

It’s one reason I’ve always been a fan of Will’s. He’s always been a great example of someone who’s made a great life out of practically nothing.

Be a Lion, Not a Lamb

Moving on from that topic, but not too far, is the conversation about becoming a leader. It’s much easier to take responsibility for your life if your locus of control is internal. If you believe that you’re in control of your world, then you’re more prone to take action when needed. If you believe that someone else is in charge of your results, then you won’t have the motivation to try and be responsible for your outcomes in life.

So, be the lion. If you want to be fed, know you need to go out and win your dinner. Don’t stop until you do. Otherwise you’ll default to being a lamb and waiting for life to happen around you.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Our subconscious is always listening and taking in the world around us. We know this because when we turn off our active mind, our subconscious takes control. This is evident due to having dreams.

In essence, our dreams are a display of the thoughts we’ve had throughout the day.

Most people in today’s world live in a pretty negative world.  So neutral to negative thoughts are generally on the brain. It’s thoughts of “I have to do this today…” or “Man, I really need to figure out how to deal with this…” or even “What the hell is up with that dude? He can’t drive worth a damn!” They really don’t give much time to think about what’s going right in their lives. They don’t give themselves time to think positive thoughts.

That’s one of the reasons you’ll hear high performers talk about the importance of affirmations in their life.

However, affirmations don’t work for everyone. Main reason, I believe, is they’re just a part of the recipe of having a positive mindset. Setting and achieving goals, associating with other positive thinking people who are going the same direction, on top of speaking to yourself positively, helps as well. 

Be Tactful in Your Communication

Just as you should be tactful in what you say to yourself, we should need to think about the energy we’re putting out into the world. There’s a reason why the phrase “karma’s a bitch!” exists. What goes around, does in fact, come around.

Here’s the reason this phenomenon exists: people like how people make them feel. If we’re Debbie Downer all the time, that’s going to be another’s perspective of who we are. However, if we’re constantly going out of our way to add value to other people or be uplifting around them, then others will see us in a much better light.

So watch what you say to yourself as well as how you communicate to others.

Be Frugal When Possible & Invest in Your Future

I remember in the book The Millionaire Next Door, there was a lot of discussion about being frugal. Just so you don’t confuse the two, being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap. If someone is frugal, they’re simple in their spending habits. They don’t buy things to just perform the act of the transaction. Many times they do so because what they’re buying provides a solution for a current problem. And often, the solution they opt for has the best benefit-cost ratio.

That said, one thing you shouldn’t be too hesitant about is your future. Applied knowledge is power. And the more results you get from that power, the better, right? So if you find yourself rationalizing why you should go to a particular event or buying a course, then maybe you should take the plunge to do it. Just don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

Focus is Super Important

When it comes to getting anything done and doing it right, you have to have focus.

For example, when it comes to the sports world, Michael Phelps would never have gotten to win as many golds as he did in the Olympics if he didn’t work constantly on his swimming technique.

Patrick Mahomes had the ability to play baseball and football professionally. In fact, he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers way before he was drafted by the Chiefs. However, just like he did in college, he gave up baseball to play football for Kansas City.

In both of these instances, we see focus in one thing setting the person up for greatness.

Many times when entrepreneurs are starting their business, they believe that they can be anything for everyone. This is a huge mistake because most of the time, people are really looking for a specialist to do something right.

So, as a creative entrepreneur, it makes sense to stick to your lane. Sure you might have a few little different perks that sets your process apart from competitors, but for the most part, keep the main thing the main thing.

There’s Three Ways to Achieve

Society teaches us through the story of the Tortoise and the Hare that continued hard work can beat talent. This is proven time and time again in professional sports where draft picks are propped up on a pedestal but when they get into the league, they fail miserably because they don’t put in the work needed.

However, what many people don’t consider is the team of people it took for that draft pick to even be considered as high as they were.

Likewise, it takes a small coordinated army to get someone elected to public office.

So, to become great, it takes more than hard work and a specific talent. Those skills will make you a great technician. But if you want to be a difference maker, you have to learn a third skill: finding and working with people who are going the same way you are. In other words, network and partnering is the true name of the game.

Not one big name you know in the online entrepreneur space has gotten to where they’re at on their own. They’ve borrowed the audience of someone else at least once.

We all have to learn how to do that on some level to get to that next level.

We All Have a Personal Mission

I speak about this in my free guide Uncover Your Personal Mission, but life is more than just following your Passion. Sometimes you’re going to have to do things you don’t want to do (or delegate if you can!). And really, if you’re just following a Passion and not considering your Purpose, you’re acting kinda selfish!

So, do yourself a favor and do a bit of an inventory on yourself to know what Passions, Purpose, and Process are. Once you have that, you can complete the Ikigai (your sweet spot) and find your Profit.

Business is About Solving Problems for your Customer

Now, if you’ve found your sweet spot in the business world, that’s great. However, ideas are like opinions – everyone has one.

To have a successful business, you need to get good at diagnosing problems for those you see as potential customers/clients. Then, once you have that determined, you can give them a solution and check and see if they want to implement it.

If done right, this is how sales should work. It’s not about the potential client turning down the solution, service, or product itself, it’s about them not being able to see the reasoning behind them needing it to get to where they want to be.

Or as Dane Maxwell says, you need to get good at “idea extraction” and providing a solution for the problem you uncover.

Action Steps

So these are 10 things I’ve learned in the last 10 years. Some are life related, some business related. Believe me, there’s plenty of other things I could have written about, but these are some things I’ve been thinking about recently quite a bit.

As for the action steps, let’s do a bit of an exercise in affirmations. What are some things you’ve learned about since being in the real world? Feel free to share in the comments below or, if you’re the shy type, write about it in your own personal journal!!

finding your passion & purpose in life

Tommy Breedlove – Legendary By Choice: Why Finding Your Passion & Purpose in Life is the Secret to Long Term Significance (AoL 166)

I can’t tell you how many times in college I heard fellow students use the phrase “I’m going to take a nap and wait patiently for death” as a joke. And in reality, for many, life is simply something that has to be endured. However, I fully believe that finding your passion & purpose in life is a huge part of getting out of that life of quiet mediocrity.

Since college, and especially after starting this podcast, I’ve come to the realization that individuals who have this figured out have overall a lot less stress in their life. Not only that, but they usually have a higher chance of being fulfilled by the work they’re doing.

This session’s guest, Tommy Breedlove, has gone through it all. From being incarcerated early in life, to working at the C-suite level, to realizing that the more he wrote his own story, the less others controlled it. Today he helps others not only realize that fact for themselves, but helps them find their next level.

In this chat, Andy and I get the chance to learn how he made that realization for himself, how he helps other men find their own way, and some pointers we can all use to start moving the dial a little bit more today.

Enjoy!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • What kind of legacy does Tommy want to leave? 7:47
  • What was the defining moment which lead Tommy to his current path? 8:39
  • Can something be said to someone who has fallen into a contentment coma to help them get out? 17:35
  • What’s the current state of men in America, and why did he focus to work them specifically? 20:49
  • Is there a difference between boys, dudes, and men? 24:52
  • According to Tommy, how do you start finding your passion & purpose in life and build a life of legacy? 28:17
  • Does he have any recommendations for someone do to build a financial fortress and build a legacy? 32:12
  • What are 3 favorite books he likes to give or tell others about? 42:36
  • Is there anything he recently says no to? How did he come to that realization? 42:59
  • Who’s the most awe inspiring person he’s met and why? 43:56
  • What’s something he’d like to do in his lifetime that no one knows about? 45:09
  • What’s it mean to live a life of abundance? 45:50

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

12 Minute Conversation with Engel Jones

Tommy on the Brandon Smith Show

Brandon Labella Interviews Tommy

Tommy via Purpose on Tap


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

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)

Cyndi Walter (AoL 163)

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.

get stuff done

Focus at Work – Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing and Get Stuff Done!

In the last post, I wrote about how deep focus might be the key to actually get stuff done in your craft or industry. Focus on the 20% of the effort that makes you the 80% of your income. You simply don’t have the capacity to do everything under the sun.
Since that post, I’ve had a few readers of that post message me and ask why I was going against the traditional advice of building an online business.

And as I thought about it, I realized that while I might be going against the more traditional advice of building a digital business, there are examples in the real world that suggest that less can be more.

So in this post, we’re going to look at just a few such examples.

Is Less Always More?

Now you might be thinking, there are plenty of examples of businesses that have grown after they offered more products and services. One such example is Amazon. Without knowing their history, you might think that they’ve always sold all the products and online services that they offer today.

However, this wasn’t always the case. When the company first started, it was an online book store based out of Jeff Bezos’ garage. Did he know that it was going to become what it is today? Probably not. But as the company offered more products and brought more people on to help manage those products, it is definitely an example of “More is More”.

Sometimes Scaling Doesn’t Always Work as Expected

But for every Amazon who scales correctly from the beginning, there’s also going to be examples where adding more to the menu might not be the best course of action.

Example 1: McDonald’s

Take McDonald’s for example. I remember in the late 00’s when McDonald’s was losing out on customers because people started to get smarter about what they were eating. It was during this time that chains like Panera, Starbucks, and Subway grew like bandits. In fact, it was pretty common to hear about places in large cities that had a couple of Starbucks on the same street.

These companies were eating McDonald’s lunch. So what did the golden arches do in response? They grew their menus and model to include some competitive products to what these other places were offering. By 2013, it had 145 items on its menu.

This was nuts and completely unsustainable. It’s no wonder that they were losing money at this point.

In an attempt to right the ship, they hired their most recent CEO, Steve Easterbrook. What Steve ended up doing was removing the items that weren’t selling as well and went back to the basics of the business. This seems to have worked because in the last year or so, their stock has actually risen.

Example 2: Apple

While this might not be the best recent example, it wasn’t too long ago that Apple was the tech company to watch out for – as an investor and a competitor.

In the Beginning…

Personally, I’ve always been an Apple user. My first computer was one and currently I’m writing this on a Macbook Pro.

During that time, the company has seen its ups and downs. I remember when I was first learning about computers, I found out the hard way that Windows 95 would not work on my Mac. How could this be? I thought everyone was going to be able to use it!

Nope, I was in the minority. Windows based PCs were what everyone else had. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had in high school answering questions about why I had a Mac… even when Steve Jobs came back as the CEO!

As I got involved in the Purdue University Mac Users Group (PUMUG), I started to learn how awesome of a group Mac users actually were. I had found my people! But interestingly, we were still a small group. All the clones had been taken off the market by that point. Those of us who were still users were because we were creatives or simply loved the Mac.

The Epic Growth of Apple

However, it was also during this time that the iPod was released. And interestingly, this was about the same time that I started paying attention to the stock market. I remember in 2001 watching the AAPL stock rise almost 50% until 9-11. 

Of course, stocks were down for just about everyone at that point. But as new and better versions of the iPod came out, their stock rose. And then, the point where everyone became familiar with Apple was in 2007 when the iPhone debuted. Wow… I really should have got some shares then. (Unfortunately, I thought I had already missed the boat. Ha!)

But there’s a point in me telling you this personal story of watching Apple rise. No one would have believed it would happen when I first got my computer – an Apple Performa 575. Had they stuck around trying to compete directly with Microsoft PCs, I think the company would have folded. Even to this day, but especially back then, they were known to jack up the price on products that were matched by less expensive PC options.

But it was because Steve was able to focus on building the next best thing (as he originally did with the original Mac) that they were able to be as great as they did during his time as CEO.

On a Smaller Scale

So, there’s a couple of examples of large companies that righted their ships after bloating to try and be everything to everyone. But it’s not something that just companies that size have to deal with. There are much smaller companies that struggle simply because they don’t focus on keeping the main thing the main thing.

And because they often don’t have the necessary resources or connections to keep going, they tend to not have the time to get their act together in time.

Example 3: Marsh

One such example is a local grocery store chain here in Indiana which was named Marsh. Like many local groceries, it folded in the last couple of years. It couldn’t find its niche in the market. I believe the main reason is that they tried to be everything to everyone. Instead of focusing on having its stores in certain profitable locations, it kept trying to keep open stores that were underperforming due to local competition – no matter what the cost.

Even after the company folded a couple of years ago, there are still locations that have not been bought by other chains. When I see them, I’m reminded of the struggles they had before going belly up. 

Interestingly, though, the places that were bought by other chains seem to be doing pretty well if not better than they did while they were under the Marsh banner. Some were bought by Kroger while others were bought by a regional chain called Needler’s. In fact, the Needler store in downtown Indy is considered by many to be one of the best groceries around!

Had Marsh realized that they should just cut anchor and focus on these stores that were actually making them income, they might be around yet today!

Action Steps

So, hope that gives a little more perspective on why it’s important to focus. If you’re good at building sales funnels, do that until you can outsource it. But don’t try to do that AND build a Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) business AND build a podcast AND build a YouTube channel.

Pick one, get a handful of clients. Once you’ve done that, scale that business using ads on social media. Then from there, you can think about doing something else when the first job is sustainable.

deep focus

Profit or Popularity? How Deep Focus Might be the Key to Your Success

Deep focus and work is a topic which is really popular these days. However, it tends to go against the prevailing advice on how to become an online entrepreneur/personality. Personally, I’ve seen a lot of benefit by incorporating it in my schedule. In this post, I’ll share with you how I learned the hard way about the benefits of deep focus as a creator.

Setting the Stage

If you’ve been following the blog and podcast, you’ve probably realized that I’ve cut back on how many of each I publish. For a few months now, I’ve been on a schedule where I post a blog post one week and then the next week, I publish an interview.


But that wasn’t how I did things when I first started my online journey. In fact, I posted a blog post and an interview each week.

Even though I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do as a new entrepreneur/thought leader, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. But I kept pushing through for two years, believing I was doing what I was supposed to do.

However, towards the end of that two year period, I started hearing and seeing signs that I had to change things up.

And eventually those signs lead to the discovery of the M-6 Business Evolution Plan.

Signs to Change

So what were these signs? Here’s three I can definitely remember:

The Importance of Deep Work and Focus

One of the earliest signs I can recall is hearing Jordan Harbinger’s interview of Cal Newport discussing his book Deep Work. In the interview, they discuss why focusing on your work for long periods of time is the only way to create anything meaningful. The reasoning behind this is because it takes awhile for our brains to snap into the right gear to create. If our days consists a lot of checking email, posting to and checking social media, you’ll never get into this deep work or deep focus state.

I knew I wasn’t getting into that deep state because I was EVERYWHERE!

Profitability vs Popularity

The second sign I remember was when one of our guests mentioned that her coach constantly has to ask her a simple question: Do you want to be profitable or do you want to be popular?

It had never occurred to me that in the online digital space, there was a choice. I thought that the only way to create revenue was to be popular. The more people who knew of you, the more chances you had to make a sale, right?

Apparently, that’s not the total idea.

Even more interesting is that in another interview we had, our guest mentioned how there are plenty of popular people on the web who can barely afford to keep their own business doors open. In fact, there’s way more of them than there are people who have followers and have an income from that following.

Start Where You’re At!

The third big sign was during my research of this whole thing about having a Personal Mission.  This course of interest started when I heard David Anderson share about how important it is to him in his interview in session 92. I knew it was a piece I was missing. Uncover Your Personal Mission is the result of this 6 month study to figure out what my starting point should be. I now fully believe it’s imperative for someone to know where they’re at

Using the Right Road Map

So, it’s interesting how traditional online business advice suggests that you should be everywhere. I think it makes sense in the long run. But the market is so saturated with other entrepreneurs and thought leaders, that we have to realize we don’t have a chance in that game by ourselves. There’s just so much work we can do in a given day.

So what’s that mean for us? What’s our course of action? Well, this is where we need a new road map.

Road maps for entrepreneurs are nothing new. Fizzle has theirs, Pat Flynn has his in Will It Fly?, and then there’s the one featured in the documentary Generation: Freedom.

There’s a lot of good content in each of these. However, I think they get ahead of themselves a little in the beginning stages.

So, let’s look at this new road map:

The M-6 Business Evolution Plan

There are 6 parts of this new plan which can be used simultaneously with the previously mentioned road maps.

However, the main difference is that this particular plan, again, focuses on early growth and sustainability of your business. So, once you get to a certain level of success, then maybe it’s a good time to start “Being Everywhere” as Pat Flynn talked about way back in session 28 of the SPI Podcast. Because, remember, in today’s market, you have to have a team to compete with the other names out there because they probably have teams themselves! 

So, here’s the new plan:

Mastery of Self

The reason that I start with Mastery of Self is because there are a lot of examples of folks who jump into a business idea because the marketing of a specific course said they’d have the potential to make all kinds of money doing that particular business. All they have to do is follow a step by step method.

Problem is, many people get burned out of these half-baked businesses because they didn’t do the inventory on themselves or they didn’t have the right frame of mind starting the business. They might have expected awesome results in a week or month and now it’s way beyond that point.

Mastery of Self is important because not only do we need to figure out who we are, but where we and our skills fit in the world.

From there, as we naturally build on ourselves and our skills, we have the potential for amazing growth.

So, for example, if you didn’t know that you’re good at writing copy, then you wouldn’t know that you should be helping people do that. Without doing what it takes to figure out where you are in relative to everyone else, you might decide that your “calling” is to sell products on Amazon. At that point, any instructions sound like good instructions but they just don’t get you anywhere you want to be.

Monetize Your Natural Talent

Before we even think about hiring anyone else to help, scale in other ways, or saying our expertise is helping people do something, we need to make sure that we can successfully add that value while being paid for it.

If you do the homework on yourself, you already know what you’re naturally inclined to help people do. If you are just starting a business, instead of working for free, start at a monetary number you feel comfortable asking for your services. Then, as you get more clients, you can play with the numbers and find out what’s asking too much or just right for what you’re offering.

Here’s a secret: The longer you do things for free, the more people think you’re A.) Training Perpetually or B.) have a bad service or product.

Also, you’ll want to look into is a book called Win Without Pitching Manifesto. In this book, you’ll learn why it’s important to position yourself in a certain way and how you can successfully do that. If done right, you’ll become the buyer and your clients will have to prove to you why they need your help!

Another thing that makes this whole process even easier is starting to work on a script. It’s ok to use scripts while doing sales meetings/calls/webinars. That’s one of the biggest things that made Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, as good as he was! His team used the script he used to make calls!

Market for Sustainable Business

Let’s say that you have an awesome product and you just happen to be really great with getting the word out there – say a video of yours went viral.

Is that a good thing when you’re first getting started?

I’d personally say that it’s a “Hard no.”.

Why?

Well, let’s say that your offer goes viral. Sure, that might be great in a Kickstarter situation or with a course (which you shouldn’t have at this point…), but if you’re offering a service or real product, you’re simply not going to have the capacity to keep up.

So, you want to find those first 3-5 clients who are ok with a price point that’s been proven. Once you do that, then it should be time to take it to the big market! You should have enough extra money to put into advertising on social media.

Mechanize Your Process to Scale

There’s something to be said about systems when you’re moving to the big market. The better our systems are when we’re working on scaling, the bigger that scaling can get before we have to hire someone to help us manage it.

So, Facebook ads, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn ads, Google… wherever your clients are, make sure you keep track of all the work you’re doing. What ads work? Which don’t? What audience works? Which doesn’t? Where should you put in pixels in your funnel? How long should your funnel be? Etc. 

Make sure when you’re doing this work that you’re only changing small parts at a time and you keep track of those changes. Changing everything at once doesn’t get you the experimental data you need. For example, if you’re changing an ad, only change the copy, the audience, or the image – NOT ALL THREE!

Also, don’t go overboard with your systems either. There’s a fine line between being creative and creating chaos.

Make Use of Other’s Talents

There’s going to be a point where we can’t do everything in our business anymore. Eventually we’ll have to either hire someone to help as an employee or bring on a contractor.

This is when we have to do what John Maxwell says all the time: “Play to your strengths, and hire help for your weaknesses.”

Just as you know yourself and how you fit into the world, the ideal people that you bring on your team should have that figured out as well. This means, besides them taking over a job you don’t want to do (or have the time to do) anymore, that they also have similar values and are internally motivated to do the job as well as possible. 

You’re not doing yourself or them a favor if you feel like they’re not committed to the vision and mission of the company.

Multiply Your Business

As we continue to scale, this is when we can go out even further. We can find other ways to market ourselves and our team’s talents. 

There might be products that you couldn’t do on your own, but now that you have a small team, you might be able to start a video series on YouTube or a podcast that goes out 3 times a week.

Also, this might be the time to package your skills into a course if you feel the demand is there. That way you can still get paid for your skills, but don’t have to put in the time factor into it.

There’s all kinds of ways to multiply your business. But just so you know, you can’t expect to start here. You have to actually have a proven system of success. I wish I had known that before I started my podcast, but hey, at least you guys understand why only publish one session every other week now! 🙂

Action Steps

As a lot of my posts go, you fall somewhere into this list. You’ll need to figure out where.

Personally, I thought I was going to be a podcaster and be like Pat in a year or so. Well, that’s not going to happen. For one, even when he started his podcast back in 2010, he already had a fairly good number of people following him on his RSS feed for his blog (check this out for numbers at the top!). I didn’t have that when I started my show. Another thing is that there weren’t nearly as many online entrepreneurs in the market. Nearly 10 years later, the market has been completely saturated.

This plan consists of parts of the more traditional way of doing things, true. But, we have to realize that if we don’t start from the foundation of figuring out where we fit in the world, then we really don’t have much to build our future success on. 

We can’t scale from nothing.
So, put in that foundational work if you haven’t. Find out what interests you and how you can add value to others. Again, you can start with the guide if you need help.

when life gives you lemons

When Life Gives You Lemons… – How Embracing Your Personal Niche Will Get You Through the Tough Times with Kim Trathen (AoL 153)

Life has a way of making us rethink the actions we’re taking. Whether it’s in school or on the job, in life, or even while we’re working on our business. That’s where the saying “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!” comes from. Because it’s when we have these obstacles in our life, we often wonder if we’re doing the right thing. We wonder if maybe the universe is trying to tell us something.

This is why knowing who we are, what our strengths are, and how we can help others is so vital to our success.

It’s because we know how we fit in the world, that we’re able to justify doing the work we’re meant to do – even when it gets hard and we’re given reasons to not do it.

In this conversation with today’s guest, Kim Trathen, we learn about all the things she had to go through as she was developing her business in 2018. She had plenty of reasons to put her blossoming business on the back burner. However, because she knew what she was good at and how she could help others, it gave her the strength to keep pushing forward.

So join Veronica and I was we talk with Kim about this journey of hers and how you can apply it to your own life and business.

Enjoy!

SPECIFICALLY, YOU’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT:

  • What was the process that Kim went through to start her business? 7:38
  • How has she been able to deal with life’s challenges as she’s been starting her business? 13:36
  • How does she address limiting beliefs with her clients? 25:35
  • In what way does passive income factor in her business? 31:08
  • How does social media come into play with her clients? 39:46
  • What is Kim looking forward to the rest of the year? 44:32
  • What is one song, one book, and one film that should be added to the national curriculum? 47:48
  • What’s the best advice that Kim has ever received? 50:58
  • Which social custom is Kim’s favorite? 51:24
  • What advice does she hear adults giving children she’d call BS on? 52:04
  • What’s the secret to achieving personal freedom? 53:08

ITEMS and PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Right click here and save-as to download this episode to your computer.

SHOW NOTE EXTRAS:

How to show up when you’re busy, tired, or just don’t feel like it…

The #1 Reason You Aren’t Where You Want to be In Life

How to Really Use Social Media as a MLM’er

#GirlsTalkBusiness 25 with Kristen Lynch


Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us again this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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A huge thank-you to you guys for joining us!

Cheers!

self growth

How Self Growth and Your Filtering Process Affect Your Life and Business

They always say, you attract who you are. When I was at the start of my self growth journey, I really didn’t know what this meant. I remember exactly where I was when I first realized it though. I was in grad school. And, interesting to me, it wasn’t too long before I realized that not everyone is looking to climb a mountain in their career.

Up until that point, I thought just about everyone worked like I did.

I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

What I’ve realized since then is that there are different personalities, different motivators, and even different needs that we have to consider when we’re interacting with other people.

Because of this, we have to be aware of where we are on this personal journey so we can understand how they see us.

The better we can use this power, the easier it is to get what we want in the long run.

Or as Zig Zigler said, “If you help enough people get what they want, then you automatically get what you want”.

Here’s a few things to think about…

You Attract Who You Are

Recently, I was listening to a lesson that fellow John Maxwell Team member and future guest of the AoL Podcast, Jeff Gamble, was talking about on his FB Live show “Going Executive Director”. 

In the video, he was talking about how people tend to attract others like themselves. 

Here’s the thing. Jeff might have been using the MLM world as a reference, but it’s true across the board. And it’s especially true in life and business.

For example, when I was in college 10+ years ago, I was pretty insecure about my future. Like many engineering students, even though I liked having a good time, I learned to prioritize studying. I never had time to party.

Many of the friends I had in college were that same type, especially early on. 

After I changed majors, I felt more at ease and because of that, I started attracting new friends who didn’t fit this previous mold. They were confident in where they were going. And because of this, I started to see that I had decent control over my own future.

It was during this time that I started getting involved in clubs and other organizations on campus. Interestingly, I started to understand that not everyone is wired the same way I am. And like Jeff was talking about, I started to understand that not only are there different personalities, but different people have different needs.

Start with Your Needs

In the video, Jeff talks about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Tony Robbins’ 6 Human Needs. It’s uncanny how similar they are:

self growth

Early on in college, my esteem took a beating. It seemed like no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t be the student I was used to being in high school.

What I later realized is that I just had no idea how to study. And once I figured that out when I changed majors, I’d put in the needed work to fix that. As a result my confidence rose and I allowed myself to venture out and do other things. Interestingly enough, I started trying to connect with other students around me by becoming part of different organizations (that’s the next level of needs!)

So, here’s my question for you. Where do you fall? Do you have the basics figured out? Do you have safety figured out? How significant do you feel?

If you’re still in search of those, as Jeff was saying, you’re going to attract those people into your life – either as friends or as clients.

Setting Up Your Business for Success by Filtering

That being the case, as a business owner, you might not necessarily want to attract those who are in your own situation.

This is where the importance of setting up a filter comes into place. 

A filter is nothing more than a system used to qualify potential matches. Most businesses should use a filter when they’re trying to fit people to certain roles.

Here’s a few examples of where filters could be used:

Recruiting In Direct Sales

For example, if you’re affiliated with an MLM company like Jeff was talking about, then you’ll want to filter the right people in. You’re looking for people who want to learn about the system and how to leverage it properly to grow their own business. What you’re not looking for is people who are naturally not coachable and rebel about everything. You want to surround yourself with other students of the craft.

As a Consultant

Likewise, if you’re a consultant, then you’ll want to use a filter to see if someone really wants to achieve a new version of whatever you’re helping them with. You’ll need to learn how to ask them qualifying questions about themselves, their business, and what they’re looking to achieve.

As a Doctor

Another example, let’s say you’re a doctor. You’d need to filter people based on their needs on whether or not you can help them. If you misdiagnose someone and give them bad advice on their next step, there’s a good chance you might be sued for malpractice.

In an Everyday Situation

Or here’s a final example. Let’s say you’re actually in HR for a company. Do you think you should hire people like yourself to fill in jobs in the company, or should you hire people who fit the characteristics of the role that needs to be filled. Obviously, you want to hire to the role and to do that, you’ll need a filter to find out if they fit. Otherwise, you’ll hire someone and they’ll either quit or be fired.

Action Steps

So, I hope those examples give you a bit of an idea of the importance of a filter in your business and perhaps in your life as well. My trajectory changed completely for the next 10 years after college. If it wasn’t for the input I received those years, I wouldn’t have started on my current path.

And because of that, I wouldn’t have been able to eventually realize that these people had used a filter on me – whether consciously or subconsciously.

So don’t throw people at the wall and see what sticks. Otherwise, you’ll get more people like yourself. If you’re trying to become a new version of yourself, that might not be ok.

Instead, learn to consciously use filters in your day to day life. If someone isn’t going in the direction you are and doesn’t have the same standards that you want, then there’s a good chance they’re going to be a drag on your life and your business.