Archives For Discipline

Foreword

One thing I have learned is that for the most part, people express the same idea but they express it in many different ways and with many different words. It is the details in the expression, the words, and combination of words used, that give a story its colour, its texture, and brings it–and its lessons–to life.

We are unique combinations of our beliefs, values and life experiences. Differences notwithstanding, we, and our experiences, are important. Therefore, there is value in compiling and sharing these stories and the multitude of ways in which ideas are expressed. Combined, these stories weave a wonderful tapestry that exemplifies just how rich and beautiful life can be.

And who knows? An inadvertent remark or detail in the retelling of a story can stand to attention and have an impact in the world of a reader. And with that exciting possibility, perhaps the most valuable thing I can do is create the space where the stories of those whom I admire and respect can be shared.

Below are people that I have come across on my own life journey whom I deeply admire and respect. Whether it be their tenacity or courage, or relentless drive or passion, each individual generously reveals a different lens in response to the questions I regularly pepper them with.

As we continue on our sharing over this anthology, I will share tidbits and anecdotes as to why I hold them in such high esteem, and what I love most about them. In turn, I hope that you do too.

What was the best business advice you have received?

Agonise over whether or not you need business partners

Ai-Ling Wong. Founder at The Decorateur, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Agonise over whether or not you need business partners. Alternatively, if you can afford it, don’t have business partners. 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs I know have long-term pain with theirs. The 10th entrepreneur without the headache is usually the one without a business partner. For me, not having a business partner is one less problem.

During my journey, people have asked me if I want to partner with them; usually because they know that I know how to work hard. I have held back because I place more value on the relationship.

Always look for the angles

Alex Louey. Founder and Managing Director at Appscore. Melbourne, Australia.

The best business advice I have received is “always look for the angles”. For example, if you’re pitching, selling, or proposing a partnership, you want to find out what will spark the other person’s interest so that they can’t help but want to work with you.

The act of “doing business” is a lot like dating; everyone likes something different. Your job is to find where the other person’s sweet spots are.

If their response is “no”, it’s not because they don’t want to use your product(s)/service(s). It’s because you just haven’t pitched your product(s)/service(s) to solve their problem(s).

Listen to your gut

Andrea Grisdale, Founder and CEO at IC Bellagio, Board Member at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Bellagio, Lake Como.

Warren Rustand taught me the value of listening to my gut, and so I share with you the following: Always listen to your gut or your intuition.

Even if every single person in the room believes otherwise–and that room is filled with people who you believe are more experienced, more intelligent, and more prepared than you are–do what your instincts tell you you do. Listen to the point of view of others but go with your gut. It will never fail you.

Whenever I made a decision that was contrary to my gut or intuition, whether it be because I wanted to people please or I capitulated under the pressure of being surrounded by–in my opinion–people who were more intelligent, experienced or qualified than I was, those decisions have always turned out to be the wrong decision. Conversely, whenever I made a decision that honoured what with my gut or intuition was telling me, it was the right decision.

As I reflect on this, I cannot help but laugh. My dear friend Alonso (who has a tendency to analyse everything to the nth degree) becomes incredibly flustered by the “moments”.

Measure Twice. Cut Once.

Daniel Dickson, Managing Director at Amarco Enterprises. Sydney, Australia.

Ironically, what I now know is some of the best business advice I was given was in my year ten woodwork class by my then teacher, who was teaching woodwork to boys that were both frivolous and quick to make decisions on cutting into beautiful pieces of timber.

His message to me then–which has since stuck with me and I believe I still say it ten times a week to my current staff–is“measure twice cut once”. The reason this is so important is that often people are quick to make decisions or take actions, only to have to later use twice the time to fix any mistakes that could have been avoided.

Measure twice cut once” ensures that that we do things properly, and prior to delivering, executing or starting, we ensure that all the checks and measures are taken to ensure our chances increase for a successful deployment or implementation.

Being the son of a builder, this adage is one of my favourites.

Do the most important thing at the start of the day

David Fastuca. Founder at Ambisie, Founder at Locomote. Melbourne, Australia.

Spend your first two hours of your work day doing the most important thing so that if you did nothing else, you would be happy. This is an idea that has been drummed into me over time by various mentors and business people. I find that I–and many people I know–have a tendency to get caught up in “doing things” that we forget, or worse, neglect the things that should be done to help move our businesses forward.

Skills can be learned. Values cannot.

Jamie Skella. Chief Operating and Product Officer at Mogul, Former Chief Product Officer at Horizon State. Melbourne, Australia.

I didn’t have the luxury of mentors at my disposal as a young entrepreneur, so most of the business advice I garnered was done so at arms length as I closely watched those succeeding on the global stage (as well as those who were making mistakes).

One of the earliest meaningful pieces of advice I remember paying attention to was Richard Branson’s “most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality”.

Alas, some lessons need to be learnt first hand. In spite of Richard’s words, I still fell into the trap of hiring based on credentials instead of cultural compatibility at one critical juncture in the past. It’s not a mistake I’ve made since as a hiring manager and it’s also a learning I’ve carried over into my investments: I back entrepreneurs first and foremost and not their CVs; that distinction is critical.

Life is too short to learn everything through experience

Keith Roberts. Founder, Author and Speaker at OAKJournal, Board Member at Entrepreneurs’ Organization, President at Entrepreneur’s Organization, Founder and Creative Director at Zenman. Denver, Colorado.

This idea was taught to me by a gentleman by the name of James Webb. James and I couldn’t be more opposite in our personal life, but throughout the years we have become lifetime friends: The idea that “life is too short to learn everything through experience” applies to my business, my personal, and my family life. It seems like common sense, but when applied to all facets of your life, it can have a significant impact through: (1) avoiding pitfalls; and (2) identifying possibilities.

It means that you can avoid potential hardships by learning from what others have done or experienced before. The practice of looking into the past also reveals opportunities that may have previously gone unseen. Don’t make mistakes or miss the chance to capitalize on trends that are visible by looking at historical/competitor data.

Be unrelenting

Kym Huynh. Founder at WeTeachMe, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Melbourne, Australia.

I grew up intimately watching, and bearing witness to, the ethos and work ethic of my Mother and my Father.

It is seared into every fibre of my being the unrelenting nature in their extreme work ethic, the strength in their inability to take no for an answer, the bravery in their conviction to stand up for what is right and fair, the audacity in their willingness to bulldoze through insurmountable odds, and the courage in their unrelenting ability to never, ever, give, up.

I cannot remember nor can I imagine a time when the above was not the case.

Let people go if you cannot serve them

Raymond Chou. Founder and CEO at Infront Consulting APAC. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I used to hate letting non-performers go because I had this strange thought in the back of my mind that said, “If you let them go, you will destroy their life.”

This little voice was challenged one day when I was asked, “If this person continues working for you, am I right to say he will never progress in his career?”

To this question I responded, “Yes”, to which they replied, “So why are you destroying this person’s career when you could let them go somewhere else where they can be a superstar?”

It was at this point that I finally understood the meaning of “letting someone go”. This is something that I have carried with me since.

The riches are in the niches

Ron Lovett. Founder and Chief Alignment Officer at Connolly Owens, Founder and Chief Community Officer at Vida Living, Author at Outrageous Empowerment. Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Verne Harnish shared an idea that I carry with me, and that idea is about focus: (1) take an industry and break it into sectors; (2) pick 10% of the overall sector where you think you have the most opportunity and can beat the competition; and (3) double down and completely focus there. Own 70% of that 10%!

In my last business (security guarding) we were focused on a model but not a market segment (customer). If I could go back and do things again, I would have put a lot more of my energies into focusing, and I believe that I would have built a much larger business as a result.

If you are in a crisis, committees of 1 make the best decisions

Tony Falkenstein. Founder and CEO at Just Life Group Limited, Founder and CEO at Just Water, President at Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Auckland, New Zealand.

In this time of COVID-19, I reflect on the advice from John Fernyhough, who was a very successful lawyer and entrepreneur in New Zealand. One of his great lines is “as a lawyer I will tell you what the legal position is, but then we decide what the commercial action is; that’s the fun part”!

John’s advice in a crisis is “take absolute control; you are like the pilot of a plane, you get paid the big money for when you are in trouble so forget discussions and meetings; just take the action you think is right, and execute fast”.

I became CEO of a long established family company that had gone public; it had millions of dollars of obsolete stock, it had no good processes, controls or reporting, it rented a building that it didn’t need, and every Executive had an Executive Assistant. The son of the Founder was the Production Manager, the Board had monthly catered meetings with drinks and yet the Company was insolvent. The Directors hadn’t realised it. Nobody had.

I drew big red crosses through the management team, including the Founder’s son, rented out the excess building, found a creative way we could use the stock, put a customer service person who had a “just do it” attitude into credit control, and found a new major revenue product. I went to the bank who had the company ‘under watch’, told them what had been done, and said they could put us in receivership now, or lend us more money.

All this happened within one month from joining. We then developed the new management team from existing staff who stepped up to the plate.

The result? The company’s share price moved from 48 cents to over $13 in 3 years. The big learning: First impressions are generally right, so if you are in a crisis, committees of 1 make the best decisions.

What do you think?

Do you agree or violently disagree with anything shared in this article? Or do you have any of your own stories that you want to share? Pop them in the comments and I will personally reply.

Call to action 

My goal is to help 1,000,000 people. My wish is to have these articles shared 1,000,000 times through the various social networks. For this reason, I provide this collection online for free and all I ask of you is this: If any of these articles have helped you in any way, please take a moment to share on social media, email to someone you think will find benefit, or print and leave it on the desk of someone whom you believe has the motivation, but lacks the tools to take themselves to the next level.

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Every single person, when I was running my business as CEO, every person on the first day I would take them through the vision as the first thing that we did. I wanted to see the light in their eyes; is this something that excites them or is this something they think is hard work. I would say that every people decision in the business is based on our core values and that my job is to get the right people in the business and the wrong people out because we wanted to create a strong culture, an engaged culture, not a negative culture. So highly recommend building a great culture through the use of core values.” — Steve McLeod

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. I see so many businesses that are planning and planning and planning and planning. Sometimes it is better to start, break a few things, and fix it along the way. Set some big goals and start taking action towards it.” — Steve McLeod

One of the numbers that I’m obsessed about in my business is how many current clients or prospective clients [do] my team go and see each week. I know that if we’ve got a team of 12 and they’re in front of 120 existing or prospective clients each week, the business will grow.” — Steve McLeod

I mentored a young woman a few years ago and she had a chocolate business. She said, “I want to sell my business in a few years’ time so that I can go have kids and take a break.” The first question I asked was, “How many hours per week are you spending meeting with prospective clients?” to which she replied, “Two.” I said, “Two is not going to get you the growth you want. I will mentor and help you if it is at least 15 hours every single week; not one week can you be less. In two years her business tripled because we worked out what was the activity we needed to drive, had the relentless discipline to do it week after week after week.” — Steve McLeod

Take nothing out of the business that doesn’t need to be taken out of. Reinvest it back into the company, and not into yourself. Initially in the first 5 years that’s where we got our growth. We were seeing 100% growth year-on-year and it was because of that. We kept throwing everything back into marketing and growth.” — Rory Boyle

I can’t recommend enough immersing yourself around entrepreneurs. I didn’t really start to learn until I put myself around people who were ambitious. You rise with the tide.” — Rory Boyle

Any business [needs to ask themselves], “How [are we] going to grow? Are we growing from existing customers and selling them more, launching new products to existing customers, or finding new customers?” — Steve McLeod

A good salesperson gets on the phone and does the hardest thing you can do and that is to face potential rejection; but this makes or breaks your business. If you really want to have a successful business you need to have the guts and courage to get out there, contact people, get rejected, and get hurt. Have the courage to sell by getting on the phone and putting yourself out there, and not doing it the easy way by just sending an email. Did the first ten calls go bad? You’ll be better on the 11th. Pick up the phone and do the hard work.” — Rory Boyle

[Many entrepreneurs] fall in love with their product and service but hate selling. Sales is just going to speaking with someone and talking to them about [why you started your business]; go and tell the story. Sales is actually a really important profession and business owners can love it if they look at why they do what they do and how to connect prospective clients with it. Without [sales] no business can grow.” — Steve McLeod

With thanks to

Steve McLeod established his first company Fire & Safety Australia in 2007. Today the business has revenues in excess of $10M and employs 150 people across Australia. Steve delivers a masterclass in how to grow your business.

Rory Boyle founded Hampers With Bite with his brother Nick in 2004. It’s actually one of a group of companies that the pair are Directors and Owners of, including Wholesale Promotions, Tastebuds and of course Hampers with Bite. Throughout their growth, the Boyle brothers have held onto the family business feel of their companies and put the customer at the centre of all they do.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

Subscribe to show

Show brought to you by

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

Our strategic alliance partners: MYOB, SitePoint and Entrepreneur’s Organization.

Our media partners: Startup Victoria and Digital Marketers Australia.

Our content partners: Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this show are linked websites are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Sometimes it takes a bit more than a spark to jumpstart a business. Putting your idea in action takes time, effort and money — but there’s a few more tools at your disposal to get your startup started.

Ben Cohn in a Co-Founder of TAXIBOX, the mobile self-storage solution that brings yellow cubes of joy to your front door. Ben did a lot of on-the-ground research to jumpstart his business. He explains his approach to making sure TAXIBOX customers always have a remarkable experience.

Ben Stickland is the Founder of Alliance Software and has spent a lot of time and money in the startup space. Ben says the first three years of business are like walking up a see-saw, then things start to level out and become a bit easier. He says he loves running experiments to see what’s going to work in his business.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

Subscribe to podcast

Podcast brought to you by

Thank you to Jahzzar for the music.

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

The Masters Series podcast is produced by Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this podcast and linked websites are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

While profit fuels a business, it’s growth that is the real reward.

Every single person, when I was running my business as CEO, every person on the first day I would take them through the vision as the first thing that we did. I wanted to see the light in their eyes; is this something that excites them or is this something they think is hard work. I would say that every people decision in the business is based on our core values and that my job is to get the right people in the business and the wrong people out because we wanted to create a strong culture, an engaged culture, not a negative culture. So highly recommend building a great culture through the use of core values.” — Steve McLeod

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. I see so many businesses that are planning and planning and planning and planning. Sometimes it is better to start, break a few things, and fix it along the way. Set some big goals and start taking action towards it.” — Steve McLeod

One of the numbers that I’m obsessed about in my business is how many current clients or prospective clients [do] my team go and see each week. I know that if we’ve got a team of 12 and they’re in front of 120 existing or prospective clients each week, the business will grow.” — Steve McLeod

I mentored a young woman a few years ago and she had a chocolate business. She said, “I want to sell my business in a few years’ time so that I can go have kids and take a break.” The first question I asked was, “How many hours per week are you spending meeting with prospective clients?” to which she replied, “Two.” I said, “Two is not going to get you the growth you want. I will mentor and help you if it is at least 15 hours every single week; not one week can you be less. In two years her business tripled because we worked out what was the activity we needed to drive, had the relentless discipline to do it week after week after week.” — Steve McLeod

Any business [needs to ask themselves], “How [are we] going to grow? Are we growing from existing customers and selling them more, launching new products to existing customers, or finding new customers?” — Steve McLeod

[Many entrepreneurs] fall in love with their product and service but hate selling. Sales is just going to speaking with someone and talking to them about [why you started your business]; go and tell the story. Sales is actually a really important profession and business owners can love it if they look at why they do what they do and how to connect prospective clients with it. Without [sales] no business can grow.” — Steve McLeod

Steve McLeod established his first company, Fire & Safety Australia in 2007. Today the business has revenues in excess of $10M and employs 150 people across Australia. Steve delivers a masterclass in how to grow your business.

Take nothing out of the business that doesn’t need to be taken out of. Reinvest it back into the company, and not into yourself. Initially in the first 5 years that’s where we got our growth. We were seeing 100% growth year-on-year and it was because of that. We kept throwing everything back into marketing and growth.” — Rory Boyle

I can’t recommend enough immersing yourself around entrepreneurs. I didn’t really start to learn until I put myself around people who were ambitious. You rise with the tide.” — Rory Boyle

A good salesperson gets on the phone and does the hardest thing you can do and that is to face potential rejection; but this makes or breaks your business. If you really want to have a successful business you need to have the guts and courage to get out there, contact people, get rejected, and get hurt. Have the courage to sell by getting on the phone and putting yourself out there, and not doing it the easy way by just sending an email. Did the first ten calls go bad? You’ll be better on the 11th. Pick up the phone and do the hard work.” — Rory Boyle

Rory Boyle founded Hampers With Bite with his brother Nick in 2004. It’s actually one of a group of companies that the pair are Directors and Owners of, including Wholesale Promotions, Tastebuds and of course Hampers with Bite. Throughout their growth, the Boyle brothers have held onto the family business feel of their companies and put the customer at the centre of all they do.

About Masters Series by WeTeachMe

Masters Series is a show about inspiring entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and visionary dreamers, and the stories behind how they built their companies.

Subscribe to podcast

Podcast brought to you by

Thank you to Jahzzar for the music.

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

The Masters Series podcast is produced by Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this podcast and linked websites are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Subscribe to show

Show brought to you by

Masters Series is presented by WeTeachMe.

Our strategic alliance partners: MYOB, SitePoint and Entrepreneur’s Organization.

Our media partners: Startup Victoria, Digital Marketers Australia.

Our content partners: Written & Recorded.

The views expressed by the contributors on this show are linked websites are not necessarily endorsed by the publisher.

Question of the day

What was your favourite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.