Richard Branson on flex policies, what Virgin looks for in an employee, and lessons learned

Branson Photo kris krüg via Flickr
Photo: kris krüg via Flickr.jpg

Entrepreneur Richard Branson gave a keynote presentation this week at the Adobe Summit, a digital marketing conference, in which he made a serious case for why Americans need more vacation time.

By Jane Burnett

The “self-made” billionaire mogul and founder of investment and marketing company Virgin Group reportedly “has stakes in more than 400 companies in 34 countries” across a variety of industries. Here are a few takeaways from his address.

Branson
http://www.biography.com

On Virgin’s flexible policies:
“You know, we also have some things which I think, that we do at Virgin which most companies don’t do, and which I would really recommend they did. So, we’ll give people unlimited paid leave. So somebody wants to go off for a month and travel the world, they can do it. They don’t have to ask permission,” Branson said.

“But they’ll work that much harder when they get back, and the company has not suffered from introducing this. If somebody wants to work from home, they can. If somebody wants to work from home on Fridays and Mondays, they can — and actually, they get more work done without having all the time of commuting to and from the office by doing that,” he added. “So, I think treating people with flexibility, treating people as humans, treating people as you’d treat your own children, comes back to the company many times over.”

On advice he recently gave to someone:
Branson mentions that a few nights before the presentation, he met a father at the bar who was trying to figure out “what to do in life.” The mogul asked him if he had kids. He said he had two, is married, and part of “a very happy family.” Branson said he could sense that the man was considering leaving his job and that the man probably thought he would recommend that he go the entrepreneurial route.

While Branson said that if the man has a concept that would improve the lives of others, he should pursue it, but he continued, “What I actually said to him was: ‘Do you enjoy the people you work with at work?’ And he said yes, he really loved those people. ‘Do you enjoy your work?’ ‘Yes.’ … But, what I did say to him was: ‘Go to your company boss and try and get them to change some of the policies to give you a bit more flexibility so you don’t feel restricted to two or three weeks, holidays a year,’ which I think this American, really-short holiday system is cruel.

Branson added: “It’s not a good way of fathers spending time with their children, mothers spending time with their children, and it’s not good for the business. You know, just because somebody’s sitting at the desk all day long does not mean they’re working all day long. People can work in three or four days [and] most likely can get all their work done. So, more flexibility — they will be much more loyal … and they won’t be necessarily asking the question, ‘should I leave this company and go do something else?’ ”

On what Virgin looks for:
“The most important attribute to a person, whether they’re running other people, or whether they’re being run by other people is …to be wonderful at basic things like kindness. Basic things like looking for the best in other people. Basic things like listening all the time, not just hearing yourself speak,” Branson said.

“So, if you are in a position of power in a company, and somebody says, ‘You know, there’s a problem at home or something,’ … immediately tell them, ‘Take a couple of weeks off, you know, go sort it out and get your priorities and life right.’ So, that’s the kind of people we look for,” he added.

On the importance of attention to detail and listening:
After mentioning the ways Virgin changed the airline industry, Branson explained what he does to continue moving forward.”

When making experiences, attention to detail matters. To this day, I keep a notebook in my pocket whenever I board a flight. I get out and I listen to passengers, I listen to cabin staff, and I write these thoughts and experiences down, and then action them the next day because these thoughts and experiences are invaluable, and they help us keep air travel fun, friendly and entertaining,” Branson said.

 

“Frequently taking note of these seemingly little things has become one of the keys to our success. As expectations change, experiences must evolve too. So, as a leader, or really, whatever you were doing in life, always be a good listener,” he advised. “Always strive to create a different and better experience than anyone else. Never rest on your laurels. We try to live on these principles in every single business we run: in our airlines, in our hotels, in our trains, in our gyms, and so on.”

Branson II
http://www.dailymail.co.uk

On what you can learn from life’s experiences

“What holds true in business and advocacy, has also been true in my personal life. And I think the most important lessons I’ve learned that haven’t come from the books I’ve read, that haven’t come from the formulas I’ve memorized, that haven’t come what I call … No. They have come from what I call the school of life. And the school of life is definitely the best experience there is,” Branson said.

6 Myths That Cause First-Time Entrepreneurs to Self-Destruct

Mushroom cloud scienceabc.com
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You can’t get it right if what you’re absolutely convinced is true, is actually wrong

What’s the major difference between entrepreneurs with a successful first year launch and those who struggle beyond expectations? Not surprisingly, it’s their mindset.
Surely, a startup’s first 12 months are ripe with challenges, and every founder understands that going into the process. What many forget is the power of their personal beliefs — and the myths they’ve bought into about entrepreneurship.

Though the phenomenon of unwittingly setting self-limitations isn’t relegated to newbie entrepreneurs, it’s common among their ranks. And it spreads like wildfire unless you make a point to douse the embers before they flare.

Whether you’re an expert in your niche, looking for answers to a problem or striving to change the world with your business, stop limiting yourself and your business’s success by believing in these common misconceptions:

1. You’re wasting money if you travel for business.
Think business travel is a luxury? If you opt not to travel, how are you going to build your business and promote your startup, especially when you’re the new entity on the block?

Traveling for business helps expand your network of potential investors, clients, employees and suppliers. Sure, your budget may be tight, but that isn’t an excuse to languish behind your office desk. A National Small Business Association report reveals that 31 percent of surveyed businesses used credit cards to finance their business last year, so it makes sense to choose a card that compensates your business with points.

Target the cheapest airfare with Google Flights, and leverage resources like Upgraded Points to maximize credit card rewards.

2. The universe is conspiring against you.
Have you ever felt like the world has it in for you? Barrier after barrier seems to crop up out of nowhere to prevent progress toward your ultimate goal. Meanwhile, your competitors apparently sail by, problem-free. Psychologists Tom Gilovich and Shai Davidai call that way of thinking the headwinds/tailwinds effect, and it can convince us that we have it harder than others, when, in reality, we might be placing obstacles in our own way without even realizing it.

Awareness is key, so keep the headwinds/tailwinds effect at the forefront of your mind. Rather than make excuses, write new goals to keep yourself motivated. Accept responsibility for your failures, and identify which obstacles are within your control. This will help keep you from becoming your own worst enemy with self-sabotaging decisions.

3. You’re the boss, so you’re in it alone.

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You may be the boss, but you won’t snatch the brass ring if you keep your dreams to yourself. Instead, share them with others so you don’t feel alone. Even if you don’t have cofounders or employees yet, build your tribe.

Take advantage of the resources available to you. Consider renting a great coworking office space or joining an innovation community or accelerator program, if your city offers them. If not, go online and network. Slack has more than 100 communities just for startup CEOs.

4. Without a “Shark Tank” level investor, your startup will sink.
With shows like “Shark Tank” all the rage, you might fall into the belief that the only way to get your ship afloat is with the help of some funding angels. However, 76 percent of entrepreneurs rely on their own coffers for financing. In addition, 83 percent rely on a little help, emotional and/or financial, from their friends and family.
It can be hard to find investors, particularly if you’re peddling something novel or untried. Begin searching for investment dollars closer to home before wooing top investors.

5. You have to reinvent the wheel.
Standing out as a brand means overcoming competitors in your marketplace. Maybe that means identifying a weakness where customers aren’t satisfied with current offerings. Rising above the crowd might mean implementing a new technology that differentiates your company from the others. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or invent a wholly new product or service to do that.

Think about Google and Facebook. Google supplanted other search engines that came before it, improving on their flaws. Similarly, Facebook took the social media space in an exciting direction. Now, they’re both worth billions. If you have a good idea but others have beat you to it, don’t give up. Instead, do your homework to discover what’s next in that space and adapt your idea to improve upon what’s already out there.

6. Your financial plan is the only plan that really matters.
While a financial plan is imperative, avoid building your business in silos. Instead, give equal weight to other plans and strategies because everything affects your company’s finances in some way. A social media plan, for example, can have a huge impact on your business’s performance.

You know you need to market your solutions on social media, but don’t expect to toss up a few tweets or posts and call it a day. Social platforms are essential ways to communicate your messaging, and they must be part of a comprehensive marketing mix.

Set goals based on your target personas and develop a system to educate and track responses. Otherwise, you’re leaving too much up to fate.

Your startup’s first year might not fly by with ease, but don’t make it tougher than it needs to be. You have more power and control than you think over whether you swim or sink.

Stop being a student and start being an entrepreneur

Leap 2
michaeljosh.com

The struggle of starting my first venture from scratch

By Rinkesh Gorasia An Engineer by degree, a Developer by chance and an Entrepreneur by choice. Founder and CEO @Savior.

Two years back when I started my first venture — Savior, I had no clue about the world of startups and entrepreneurship. Hardly six months into the college, I thought, I don’t want to end up like everyone else and made up my mind to do something. Entering into college I had no technical or business background but one thing I surely had was the desire to learn, seek new things and experiment.

During those days with no experience, I had no clue about how to get money, how to run a company, how to talk to clients or manage them. Things were pretty rough. The thing about business is that there isn’t any formulated way of doing things. You learn business by doing one. The more you share, explore, sell and experiment the better you get. That’s the beauty of business. But it’s way more easy to say rather than doing and actually getting results in your favor.

leap-of-faith
bootstrappedwithkids.com

Everyone talks about ‘this’ or ‘that’ Entrepreneur has built and become a billionaire but when I look around and talk to people, most people are afraid of starting out. Many of them have ideas but don’t know where to start, how to start, whom to approach. The fear of failure and rejection eats them up. Even I struggled with those questions and scenario. The more you get experienced it’s just the level of questions changes. This is just an attempt to clear some clouds over those questions.

Unique Ideas?
Ideas are cheap. Everyone have them, what matters is what you do with it, how well you are able to execute it and make a business out of it and serve people.
If you are in search of a unique idea, you might have to wait for an entire lifetime and still not have one.

When I had the idea of Savior it was nowhere the product we are today. Starting out as an emergency forms for accidents and then moving to a patient-oriented appointment app to eventually be an AI-backed software for helping doctors with the diagnosis. We came really far from what we were and that’s what made us who we are today. I know it was not a unique idea but more importantly, it was solving a problem and capable of making money.

It’s never about getting out first in the market or having a unique idea.
In the real world, you don’t win by getting there first or having the best idea. You win by continuously solving the problem better. When you build a feature that is extremely popular or successful.

Don’t hesitate. Just put ideas into actions and see what wonders it does.
Your Billion Dollar Idea Ain’t Worth A Damn Cent.
Unless you work on it.

Lack Of Experience?
In my early days while working on Savior, I used to meet people and talk about my idea and how I am planning to scale, One thing I remember always telling people or mentors is that : ‘I am a college student and don’t have much expertise and experience in this background. How do I learn Business? How do I sell? ‘

Everyone use to empathize with me and give me some advice on how to do certain stuff. Later on, I realized I was just giving excuses for not knowing something using my age as the shield to defend.

When kept aside the barrier of the age and mentality, anything and everything can be learned and practiced. There are many prisons we carry with us: Our minds, our attitudes, our upbringing, our hopes and I realized this was one of them.

Entrepreneurship sets us FREE from all of them. Most of the people when starting out at a young age especially when in college or just after that have of lack of experience and doubt their capabilities. The reason that you don’t know many things is that you haven’t tasted, tried or learned enough things.

College is the best place to experiment, explore, fail and learn from your mistakes. It is that time you don’t have any responsibility of any family or stabilizing your life. You get to do whatever you want and try as many things as possible.

Networking is key here. Meet new people, share your ideas and problems with entrepreneurs in similar lines. Join communities and get maximum out of people. Tell the world that you have got something.

Read, write and speak as much as you can. You can’t meet every expert in every field, that’s where books and blogs play an important role. You can’t keep everything in mind, write to articulate your thoughts and give yourself a direction. Speak to tell the world about you. What are you doing it for them and why? Be the master of the art of storytelling.
The only thing you need to do is start. There would rejections and failures, a time where you don’t know what to do and how to do, time where you don’t know whom to talk and what to talk but all of this is just like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about.

Planning is useful, but returns tend to diminish. Start before you are ready.
Explore. Dream. Discover but Don’t stop

Fear
8 Months into Savior, I started doubting myself and the idea we were working on. I thought there was no chance we would make it to the market ever. I almost decided to quit because people kept telling me that I should be not doing it at this age. I should focus on my college and not these things but somehow I managed to cling on and continue and that’s where it all turned around.

There will be always people who will say that your idea isn’t good, that you aren’t good enough. They will make you doubt your decisions and influence them. They will always induce that fear and self-doubt in you constantly.

When this happens, ask yourself, “What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?”

We live in a world where other people are so scared of our failure that they don’t allow us to take risks. Don’t borrow their fear. Do whatever the fuck you want to do. If you need to borrow, borrow courage.

I fail quite often. And succeed sometimes. Those sometimes are enough to pay off the failures.

What are you scared of?
Your fear of losing, being wrong, or getting laughed at is holding you back!
Slow down, take a breath and deploy patience. This is just the beginning.

Perfectionism isn’t about you. It’s about an unhealthy need for approval. It’s about a fear of failure and looking incompetent. It’s the opposite of courage. And it’s the opposite of mastery.

Fear has led to more procrastination than laziness ever will.

Inspiration
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Inspiration!
Often when we hear the top CEO’s and Founders telling their amazing story and somewhere everyone refer to some forms of inspiration which gave them a kick or a start or a pump to get them going.

For Entrepreneurs, Problems are the inspiration. Problems which they tend to solve and work endless hours to bring a change and make life better.

If you are really looking for motivation, just step out of your room and start meeting some really hungry entrepreneurs. They are hungry human beings with special and unique attitude and mentality. They are hungry for the success, they are hungry for their work, they are hungry for the self-respect, they are the one, who has real hunger of turning their dream into reality, they never get afraid of taking action. The best part of an entrepreneur’s journey is to take action and have a “just do it now” attitude.

Your dream will never turn into reality until you get out of your tiny virtual world. Thinking and not taking action will not give you anything except frustration

Don’t leave inspiration to chance.

Money
Well, this is the most common reason for people not giving a shot to their dreams. But what most people do is just crib about it and complain about not having enough capital rather than actually doing something about it.

Being in college, to get even bare minimum capital for the startup was damn difficult. I couldn’t go to my parents because even I was not sure what I am gonna to do and how I am gonna do, so didn’t make any sense of thinking they would back me on this. I tried to work around ways and started thinking of earning money from whereever I can.

At that time I was good enough to get internships/freelancing as an Android developer or a content writer. I started looking out for opportunities but one or two internships hardly helped but that was the only option I had. So I took multiple projects at once. At one point I remember I was doing 13 internships all together and I was hardly sleeping as I would get only half of the day to work due to college and amidst all this, I had to work on Savior too. I somehow managed it. When I see back I don’t know how I pulled it off.

But that’s the beauty of the storm. Once you get out of it you are a totally different person. Those internships taught me a lot about time management, prioritizing things, sticking to the schedule, being professional and most importantly the bitter truth of earning money and it’s value.

It also taught me that most of the times we are wrong in the estimate of how much money we will need. Most of the times we over-estimate it too much which leads to many problems. Also being a student gives you the advantage to access to useful software and app which are necessary, for free or at a very cheap price.

There would be always ways that can be worked around. Find where you are good at and earn that money. It would take time but it would make your life. You just need to hang in there for some time and figure it out what is best for you.

As published in The Ascent

Bad habits you must immediately break to improve your life in the next 100 days

bad habits crosswalk.com
Crosswalk.com

By Thomas Oppong

Habits define us. And nothing sabotages your creativity and productive life quite like bad habits. In the words of Samuel Johnson “The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

To live a balanced, productivity, creative and fulfilling life, ridding yourself of your unproductive habits is an important investment.

It’s easier to keep going than to take a few minutes to reflect, plan, and to really look at what needs to change for you to create your own version of a productive week, month or year.

It’s about time you paid attention to the habits that could be hindering your progress in life and career.

Kill the excuses!
Do you ever catch yourself making excuses when things don’t turn out as you had expected? Have you ever tried to explain away why you didn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t or simply wouldn’t do something?

I’m too tired. I don’t have the time. I am not capable. Someone else will do it. It’s too late now. Now is not the right time. I am not talented. I am not ready. I’m too scared. Nobody will help me. What if I fail. I don’t feel motivated. I’d rather do nothing. I don’t have the money … yet! Those are the biggest excuses people make.

It’s easy to come up with excuses and justify not getting started. The longer you fill your head with rationalizations and empty excuses, the less time you have to take action.
Jordan Belfort said, “The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

It’s easy to say, “I will start when I have more experience, money, time and resources”.

By this time next year, you will have a lot more excuses.

It’s a cycle. And once you get caught in the loop, it can be difficult to break free and do something meaningful you care about.

Many people are living their entire lives without ever standing up and stepping out. But it’s exciting to witness the rare few who dare themselves and step out of their personal bubbles to make a change.

Most of us live with the stubborn illusion that we will always have tomorrow to do today’s work. We consistently hold on to this belief and keep procrastinating until work becomes a heavy burden.

Left unchecked, we always default toward a more comfortable path. Your comfortable zone provides a state of mental security. You can understand why it’s so hard to kick your brain out of your comfort zone.

Your super connected habit
If you can be reached via smartphone, email, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you’re way too available and all these outlets are possible connections that can distract you from your purpose.

In his best-selling book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr writes, “The Web provides a convenient and compelling supplement to personal memory — but when we start using the Web as a substitute for personal memory, by bypassing the inner processes of consolidation, we risk emptying our minds of their riches.”

Disconnect and watch as your productivity sores.

Your smartphone might be the biggest productivity killer of all time. Most people just can’t put the phone away. If your phone is connected online, the temptation to stay updated about almost everything is very high.

If you can, put down that phone (or power it off) for a while when in the office and witness the effect that can have on your level of productivity.

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Accountingweb.com

Multitasking is killing your brain
Multitasking keeps your mind full, busy, and always under pressure. Science has proven that only 2% of us can really multitask efficiently. So just give it up already.
Stop multi-tasking, seriously stop. Of all the bad habits, multitasking is among the worst and most common. Multi-tasking does not necessarily make you more productive as you may think. You can actually achieve more in less time when you single task and focus on getting one thing done well.

It takes about 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully return to a task after an interruption, according to Gloria Mark, Professor at UC Irvine, in Fast Company. So you may be wasting a lot more time than you think.

In his book, The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done, Crenshaw explains the difference between “background tasking” — like watching TV while exercising — and “switchtasking,” juggling two tasks by refocusing your attention back and forth between them, and losing time and progress in the switch.

More is not necessarily better. In fact, in many cases, the quality beats the quantity.
Focusing on the things that bring the biggest rewards or achievement is a great strategy.

Saying YES to everything
Time is the raw material of productivity and creativity. We are not taught to say “no.” We are taught not to say “no.” “No” is normally considered “rude”. But “yes” makes limits creative and productivity time.

Saying “no” means you have time to focus on your own creation, tasks, and projects, rather than responding and reacting to requests.

“You can’t let other people set your agenda in life,” says Warren Buffett.

How is how Charles Dickens rejected an invitation from a friend:
“ ‘It is only half an hour’ — ‘It is only an afternoon’ — ‘It is only an evening,’ people say to me over and over again; but they don’t know that it is impossible to command one’s self sometimes to any stipulated and set disposal of five minutes — or that the mere consciousness of an engagement will sometime worry a whole day … Who ever is devoted to an art must be content to deliver himself wholly up to it, and to find his recompense in it. I am grieved if you suspect me of not wanting to see you, but I can’t help it; I must go in my way whether or no.”

Acting on the directives of your inner critic!
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ― Louise L. Hay

You are not good enough! You can’t do it! Don’t even bother trying! It’s too late for you! Nobody will share it, like it, recommend it or even see it! Don’t waste your time! You have no writing credentials. You’re terrible at grammar, punctuation, and using parentheses. No one wants to read your opinions — everyone has their own opinions to sort through.

“Turn down the volume of your negative inner voice and create a nurturing inner voice to take it’s place. When you make a mistake, forgive yourself, learn from it, and move on instead of obsessing about it. Equally important, don’t allow anyone else to dwell on your mistakes or shortcomings or to expect perfection from you.” ― Beverly Engel

Psychological research shows that success and well-being are associated with high self-esteem and that people with lower self-esteem suffer a disproportionate share of emotional and behavioral problems.

The truth is …
Nobody is perfect enough to begin anything! You will never be ready for anything..ever! I love to write and share. I’m not a professional writer. I have no writing credentials. I am not Stephen King.

I have no technique, and I am not trained. But I write anyway. It matters that I show up every day. I can only get better with practice. My inner critic has gotten weaker with time.

Aiming for perfection
The root of procrastination is the fear of not doing a good job. Perfection kills creativity. Don’t fuss over details as you move forward. What matters is that you get something done.

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The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. Give yourself time in your life to wonder what’s possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.

Done is better than perfect.

You will screw up in the process but it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for making a mistake or making a wrong choice. It will only lead to self-destructive behavior.

Bob Pozen, author of Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours, says while perfectionism is a “learned habit,” it can be an “unlearned habit” if you work at it.
It’s okay to screw up as long as you are willing to try again. Non-conformists and originals screw up a lot. But they move on, knowing that at some point, the breakthrough will happen.

No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.

Creativity flourishes when you don’t seek perfection but focus on getting stuff done. What you do matters, not what you think or say or plan. And doesn’t have to be perfect.
The real world rewards those who create stuff and get things done. Give yourself space to think and wonder. And don’t be afraid of what might happen.

Creating is the result of thinking like walking. Left foot, problem. Right foot, solution. Repeat until you arrive.

Give yourself time in your life to wonder what is possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction.

Delaying the launch of your passion project
You cannot stay in your comfort zone forever. Career magic happens outside your safe boundary. Until you make that all important decision to take that crucial step, you will feel stuck for a very long time.

Don’t just think about it, Act!

Action begets outcome. Outcome begets more action. You can only create or build when you make a move. Momentum builds through action.

You can’t see the results you expect until you overcome your fear of starting and begin to take the first step at actually creating a new business, starting a new project or building the life you want.

The only thing worse than failure is not starting.

Failure is not final. There are way too many people out there who want to stay in their comfort zone and take no action but still complain of their current life. Don’t be one of them. A single step gets you closer to your dream career.

Don’t discount the power of action no matter how small.

Figure out the best time outside your normal work hours to get something done. You don’t even have to do most things yourself. You could outsource or get someone else involved.

Set aside the time for your meaningful project and consider marking it on your calendar so you’ll actually do it. Make time to check in with yourself about your hopes, dreams, and goals.

If you are still not sure about your passion project, Chris Guillebeau has insightful ideas to help you find and launch a project you deeply care about.

In his book, Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do, Chris writes, “Finding the work you were meant to do is rarely a linear journey. It’s a process of exploring many little twists and turns that lead us to the place we ultimately belong. THE WINNING”

Worrying about your weaknesses
It’s easier to play to your strengths. Chances are you are paying too much attention to negative information. Millions of people are worried and always thinking about how to get rid of their weaknesses.

What if you turn things around and focus on your strengths instead. The bitter truth is, you may never overcome your weaknesses but you could make significant changes to how you live and work if you focus on what you are good at. The key here is that you don’t have to change who you are; you have to become more of who you are.
“Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Focus on your character, not your reputation. Focus on your blessings, not your misfortunes,” says Roy T. Bennett

In a study by Harvard Business Review, it was noted that while people remember criticism, awareness of faults doesn’t necessarily translate into better performance.
It was further discovered that knowing your strengths offers you a better understanding of how to deal with your weaknesses — and helps you gain the confidence you need to address them.

Inaction 

InactionManAsleep Todoinstitute.org
Todoinstitute.org

Despite the many options the new have as a generation, we are still left with a paradox of inaction. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

On one hand, we instinctively tend to stick with the default: get an education, get good grades and pursue a career society deems “respectful”.

Those careers promise financial security devoid of risks. Safe over risk has always been the choice of millions. It’s a safer bet.

Nobody likes to rock the boat. We feel safe in our comfort zones, where we can avoid the sting of regret.

And yet, at the same time, we regret most of those actions and risks we did not take.

Studies consistently show that when we look back on our lives the most common regrets are not the risks we took, but the ones we didn’t.

Of the many regrets people describe, regrets of inaction outnumber those of action by nearly two to one. Some of the most common include not being more assertive and failing to seize the moment.

When people reflect later in life, it is the things they did not do that generate the greatest despair.

But you can do something about what you truly want in life now. You don’t have to have many regrets when you can seize the moment today. There are more opportunities to completely reinvent your role in the system than ever before.

Stop giving a f*ck
“A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.” — Eric Hoffer

It is human nature to want to be liked and accepted, hence the insane pursuit of conformity. But you can make a conscious effort to stop giving a damn; to let yourself free.

It’s a skill that needs to be practiced, like any other skill. Once you truly understand how to let go, you will see the world from an entirely different perspective.

The world is constantly telling you that everything you are not is what makes you happy. The other persons “great” job, a better car, a new and bigger house etc. Giving a f*ck about everything the world wants you to have makes you more miserable about what you are not or don’t have.

Don’t focus your life and efforts on chasing a mirage. It causes mental health problems you don’t want.

You are probably too busy giving a f*ck about so many things around you that you’ve practically stopped living.

Mark Manson writes in his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, “In my life, I have given a fuck about many people and many things. I have also not given a fuck about many people and many things. And like the road not taken, it was the fucks not given that made all the difference.”

The key to the good life you really need is giving a damn about what’s important to your growth, career, and total well being.

When you stop giving a damn about what people think, your self-confidence will definitely shoot through the roof faster than you can ever imagine.You’ll start to believe in yourself and what you can offer the world, without letting outside influences stop you or sway your decisions.

The more you desperately want to be like someone else, the more unworthy you feel. The more you desperately want to be happier, the lonelier you become, despite the awesome people surrounding you.

Mental toughness, happiness, and living life to the fullest come from knowing what to care about – and most importantly, what not to care about.

http://www.theladders.com

How to Cultivate and Sustain an Entrepreneurial Mindset After a Setback

yesterday's tractors
yesterdaystractors.com

As an entrepreneur, you will face multiple setbacks along your journey. The key to success is maintaining a healthy mindset that will guide you to a better future. Here are four ways to ensure your mindset stays strong during times of disappointment.

By Manish Dudharejia

The life of an entrepreneur is certainly one full of risks. Some risks pay off, sadly, many don’t. Whether it’s a bad investment, poor partnership decision or a total business flop, a setback can be traumatizing to the entrepreneur who dreams of success.

Setbacks can have a devastating effect on many entrepreneurs, which can lead to health issues like depression and anxiety, conditions that 56 percent of entrepreneurs and business founders possess.

More likely than not, you will face failures and make mistakes during your time as an entrepreneur. However, whether or not these hold you back is purely up to you. Maintaining a healthy, positive entrepreneurial mindset is essential for building a business that succeeds.

If you’ve experienced a devastating setback, or just want to prepare for what lies ahead, here are four steps you can take today to ensure your mindset stays strong during times of disappointment.

1. Avoid isolation and pursue community.
Failing is not just disappointing; it can be embarrassing. It bruises your ego and forces you to see the mistakes you made. It can be easy to take a step back and hide after a major setback to avoid talking about your failure. However, rather than pulling away from people, instead, reach out for support and guidance from others.

If you haven’t already, connect with a mentor for advice. Of course, finding a mentor who is able and willing to help is easier said than done. However, some websites and resources are available to connect you with the expert advice you need, such as Business.com’s network of experts and sites like MentorNet that match you with a virtual mentor based on your personality and business experience.

Reach out to others within your community for more personal connections. Check whether your city hosts any meetups for business owners, startups or entrepreneurs like yourself. Check out conferences and expos. While it may be difficult at first, fighting the urge to withdraw is how you grow and expand your expertise.

Divine-inspiration-life-girl-sun
consciouslifestylemag.com

2. Stay constantly inspired.
Though he wasn’t an entrepreneur in the traditional sense, American author and social activist Jack London wisely said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Moving on from a past mistake or setback requires you to cultivate a new mindset. Recall why you started down the entrepreneurial path in the first place. While you may not have lost your passion for your product or industry, chances are that some of that inspiration has dwindled. It is up to you to rekindle it.

There are many ways to spark that fire again and help you get back on track. Listen to entrepreneurial podcasts that tell the stories of today’s biggest names in business and how they struggled and succeeded. Read books on business, watch documentaries, or study your passion professionally through online courses. Find creative ways to stay motivated and inspired. Who knows, it may help you discover your next great idea.

3. Find your passion apart from business.
While your company may be your baby, it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout. After a setback, focusing on something that brings you joy can help you maintain a healthy mindset. In fact, having a hobby has been scientifically proven to help support mental health.

Additionally, you should not define yourself by your business. That is a surefire recipe for disaster, especially when a tragic setback occurs. Instead, connect with the things outside of your business that make you feel happy, inspired, strong, creative or whatever floats your boat.

4. Treat it like an emotional setback.
Losing someone or something that is important is a devastating experience. When people lose a loved one, go through a divorce, or even end a close friendship, they often turn to treatments, like therapy, to deal with their heartbreak. Losing a business can be just as difficult to deal with emotionally, so don’t be afraid to try these strategies either.
Even something as simple as writing out your story can be extremely helpful for working your way through your setback.

One study reported that people who journaled were able to release negative emotions. The act of writing out your thoughts reduces activity in the amygdala in the brain, which controls the intensity of emotions. By journaling, you can physically affect your outlook and maintain that entrepreneurial mindset.

There is no shame in reaching out to others to deal with disappointment, such as talking to a therapist or trying meditation or yoga to calm your mind. Again, it’s about finding what works for you. Sometimes staying busy helps you deal with setbacks, but other times, quieting your mind and relaxing can help, too.

Conclusion
As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Remember, no matter how dire the setback may seem at the moment, it is not permanent. Anyone who has ever built an empire has survived failure in some form or another. Learn what you can from it, and make the most of the experience by reaching out, rekindling your passion and inspiration, and finding the things that work best for you to stay positive.

As an entrepreneur, you will face multiple setbacks along the journey. Know that the key to staying successful is maintaining a healthy mindset that will guide you to a better future.

7 Signs Your Client Will Never Pay Your Invoice

final notice art
manta.com

Watch out for these red flags that your new client may try to skip out on payment, costing you valuable time and threatening your cash flow.

By JT Ripton

Most freelancers and small business owners will come face to face with this lamentable reality at least once: Clients sometimes skirt invoice fulfillment and renege on payment.
Keep a sharp lookout from the outset of your relationship with a client in order to protect yourself and your payments. Learn from the experience of the experts that have come before you by looking out for these seven warning signs.

1. Refusal to Sign a Contract
A legally binding contract lays out the terms of your engagement with the client from the outset. This gives you an opportunity to set your rates and expectations in terms of payment deadlines, etc. It is your best friend when it comes to invoice fulfillment, and there are platforms such as Invoice Ninja that offer free proposal templates that can be transformed easily into invoices once approved by the client.

A contract is an extremely valuable resource that creates clarity in your relationship with the client and, if it comes down to it, can be used to take legal action. Since having clarity on an agreement is beneficial to both parties, refusal to sign a contract is grounds for suspicion when it comes to dealing with your clients. Think twice about spending your time completing a project for someone who is unwilling to sign a simple agreement.

2. Haggling Over Rates
Similarly, make sure you settle on an hourly or project rate before investing your own time and energy into a project. Some clients may simply be unfamiliar with freelance rates and express initial hesitation, so be prepared to explain the market value of your work. Clients who understand the value of your entrepreneurial expertise should be willing to pay a fair price for it.
While some negotiation over pricing is a normal part of business, watch out for clients who are overly aggressive about rate haggling. That could be a sign of problems to come.

3. Using Dismissive Language
Be wary of clients who subtly undervalue your work by asking you to put together a “quick” proposal, misrepresent your role, or use careless language to devalue your input.
Sometimes carelessness can be the result of lack of knowledge. That’s why they hire you, the specialist, after all. But there is a difference between naivete and willful ignorance. Don’t let clients underestimate your value.

4. Inability to be Responsive
If clients are slow to respond to emails (or don’t respond at all), miss project deadlines or fail to return feedback in a timely manner, there’s a great chance they will give your invoice a similar tardy treatment.

chrip
giphy.com

Communication is a basic skill, and it is necessary to the success in any relationship. Your client relationships are no exception. If clients are slow to respond from the outset, issue a kind but firm warning. Since you’ve both signed a contract (you did sign a contract, right?), feel free to issue reminders about deadlines established in the contract terms.

5. Lack of Respect for Your Time
The other side of the coin is when clients are overly communicative or nitpicky about your work. If clients insist on updates or edits that stretch your time beyond a project rate, it’s likely they will find something to complain about in the finished project as well, or find an excuse to talk you down from established rates.

Clients will often value their time over yours, but be careful of getting caught in a dynamic where you privilege the client’s needs. Being responsive and meeting client demands is part of the work of a freelancer. But as a professional small business owner or solo entrepreneur, you have every right to draw the line if you are not being compensated for additional time and effort that wasn’t accounted for in the original project proposal.

6. They Won’t Pay Online
This is not 1993; payment through Paypal and other online services is normal in 2018. If you have clients who resist paying online, treat that as a warning sign.
With free and accessible options available, there’s no excuse for clients to refuse to pay online. The ease of online payment processing allows you to track your income and process it painlessly, and it also makes things easier on the client. Clients who insist on paying by check or sending payment by mail may have no intention of paying you at all.

7. They Demand Delivery up Front
Most freelance work is not like selling products. With a product, you can take it back and sell it to someone else if the buyer doesn’t pay. With freelance work, however, usually that isn’t an option.

So if a client asks for delivery before payment, be wary. Sure, there might be a good reason for this request — and your trusting heart or need to keep the client might urge you to meet this demand. But it doesn’t end well. It really doesn’t. So don’t cave to this request, and view it as a sign that there might be payment issues ahead.

It is completely reasonable for you to delay full delivery of your completed project until you receive partial or full payment. Clients are entering into a contractual arrangement to utilize your expertise. Depending on the nature of your work, you can deliver a preview or excerpt. Once the client has received your completed project, their incentive to come through with payment drops dramatically. So you are totally within your rights to retain your own creative property until they fulfill their half of the agreement.

Unfortunately, as a freelancer or small business owner, you can’t always rely on your clients. But staying staunch in your agreement is not only a necessity, it’s a sign of integrity for your business that will keep valuable clients returning. Get those invoices taken care of before the project has drifted past and you find yourself swimming upstream to chase down your elusive client.

As appeared in manta.com

JT Ripton is a business consultant and a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a myriad of topics, business and technology being a couple of them. Ripton has written for companies like T-Mobile, Frontier Internet, Hughes Internet and others. You can reach him on Twitter @JTRipton.

 

4 factors of Team Exceptionalism

team Exceptionalism
dorsum.eu

Team exceptionalism begins by building a constructive climate

By Steve Header

As an entrepreneur, a business owner, or manager of a team it is a great benefit to offer a constructive climate for your team members. When we speak of constructive climates, we envision a working environment where there is trust, openness, supportiveness and while not necessarily free of conflict, an environment free of conflicts that are centered on individuals or personal issues.

A constructive climate helps foster an employee’s sense of inclusion, respect, and enjoyment. It just happens to boost a company’s productivity; hence, profitability as well. It creates team exceptionalism and is in concert with what I like to call “the golden rule of management.” Which is creating conditions where your employees want to work for you and not have to work for you.

This pseudo-nirvana state of team perfection is closer than you may think and manifested by considering four readily achievable climate-in-practice factors:

1. Provide structure
Asking a home builder to build a house for you most likely will not work out exactly like you had expected or wanted. However, by providing the builder with a set of blueprints, he or she now has the required information needed to give you exactly what you wanted.

Similar to the blueprints for your home, structure allows employees to understand where they fit in and what is expected of them. It instills a sense of security, direction, and stability. It gives meaning to the purpose of their tasks.

2. Clarify norms
Every group has a set of rules that more or less dictate the group’s behavior. These are considered the group’s norms. Once established these norms are continuously communicated and shared. Not unlike the world’s many different societies, religions and practices, different groups will have different and varying rules for acceptable behavior.

There are societies where dining on insects, for example, is perfectly normal and accepted behavior. Then there are other areas on the globe where this behavior would be frowned upon. Illustrating that without direction certain norms may become counterproductive to the team’s goals, or at the very least unwanted. When building a constructive climate, leaders need to clarify what behavior will be acceptable.

3. Build cohesiveness
Group cohesiveness is essential, yet an elusive component of highly functioning groups. Commonly referred to as a sense of “we-ness,” cohesiveness is the cement that holds a group together. It is that feeling of pride, trust and loyalty each and every member feels toward the team. The esprit-de-corps that exists within a group.

Warriors Rockets Basketball
nba.com

In the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers have one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the sport – LeBron James. Unfortunately, the Cavaliers lost the 2018 championship to the Golden State Warriors, who have many very good players, and great cohesiveness.

4. Promote Standards of Excellence
Expressed or implied expectations for performance within a group are that group’s standards of excellence. Standards of excellence are different for every group and do not necessarily mean the group must be the best at everything it does, or that the products or services must have the highest quality or lowest cost. It simply means the performance expectations for that particular group, and as such need to be promoted to the team members.

Standards of excellence are to include the following six essential components to be effective for its members:
1. Information necessary to do the job and what skills are needed to be acquired
2. Initiative and effort that will need to be demonstrated
3. Treatment and behavior toward others within the group
4. Significance of deadlines
5. Goals that need to be achieved
6. Consequences if goals are achieved, or failed to be achieved

Team exceptionalism
A productive smooth functioning team is every manager’s aspiration and can be extremely difficult if not almost impossible to achieve. By following these four factors, you will have the guided steps necessary to build a constructive climate where your team will want to work for you and can flourish, accomplishing goals beyond both their and your wildest expectations.

23 June 2018

Steve Apr 2018Steve Header is Owner/Consultant of Lucidity Small Business Management – a management consulting firm catering to small business, and professor of Management courses at the local college level