Archives For Self-Belief

I put a sign on my door that says “Redundancy in Progress”. I’m working very hard on making sure that I can make myself redundant so the really great people that I have can come through. Another thing that has been fantastic in a learning sense is hiring the right people “for you”. There is hiring people that have the skills, that are smarter than you, and can do the job better than you, but to find people that suit you is very important. Understanding this has taken many years of learning.” — Anou Khanijou

If you put yourself out there, the opportunities come. People say you have to be in the right place at the right time but I say if you take the opportunity, the right place and the right time happens. For example, if I had sat at home and said, “I’m not going to do this today,” I would not have met the right person that said, “Can you help me with my pants?” I say, “I am going to take every opportunity as it comes, and learn. Even if nothing comes from it, I’ve learned, I’ve engaged, and I’ve met somebody that helped me on my journey.” It’s about taking every chance that presents itself, converting them into opportunities.” — Anou Khanijou

We didn’t know anything about anything. I lived in a bubble, did what I studied, and painted within the guidelines. Starting a business was so crazy! For every part of the journey, we didn’t know anything; we just did it. Our first product was a complete failure. But one thing leads on to the next, and on to the next, and opens up to so many more opportunities. And before you know it, you turn around and you think, “I kind of know a thing or two now.” I would have never guessed that I would be where I am now today.” — Carolyn Wong

Small and steady growth is enough. I used to be very caught up in doing things quickly and when someone told me that it would take 10 years o build our business into a successful business, I said “No way. I’m going to do it 3 years, and then I’m gonna retire.” Eight years later, I am still here. There’s no point in putting that much pressure on yourself; just slow and steady. I have learned to appreciate the journey and appreciate the moment because time flies. The whole journey is really beautiful and fulfilling.” — Carolyn Wong

As you’re scaling up, you get to point where you need to get into your business the right people with the right culture, and they are going to do things differently. They won’t do things the way you want them to. They’re going to make you uncomfortable, and if you’re prepared for that and learn to close your eyes and accept that, “Yes I would have done it differently but I accept that he/she will do it their way,” then you can scale up. That is growth.” — Anou Khanijou

If you believe in what you want to do, no age is the wrong age. Any age is correct. If you are not true to that belief, it will never be correct. I have always believed very strongly in what I wanted to do, and I have always set forth to achieve it. If you believe you want to be in business, then be in business.” — Anou Khanijou

Be goal orientated and not task orientated. At the beginning of your journey, you’re a micromanager because you have to cover every aspect of the business. You’re the maker, the packer, the sender, the seller… everything! But it’s about transitioning and stepping out of these things, and it’s difficult because you’re letting go and trusting other people. If you can’t trust your staff to do the right job then there’s a big question mark.” — Carolyn Wong

With thanks to

Anou Khanijou is the Managing Director of Anouconcept, but she created her first business before the age of 18. Starting with a successful Thai restaurant, she then created another restaurant, followed by a nightclub. Then came an almighty failure, one she’s determined to never repeat.

William Du & Carolyn Wong are co-founders of giftware retailers Short Story. Growing from market stalls to department stores, this couple has seen success and failure — often in equal measure. William and Carolyn share are enjoying success, but share their failures in the hope that you won’t suffer the same fate.

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 that 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.

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’s something you wish people knew about what it’s like being an entrepreneur?

There’s more to being an entrepreneur than drinking champagne

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

I wish people could understand that being an entrepreneur truly means being 360°. In other words, it’s not all drinking champagne, being surrounded by amazing people, and having a team of people working “for you”.

The amount of energy that is required, the number of sleepless nights one endures, the constant questions that inhibit our minds, the constant search to improve and to do better, and the sense of responsibility that an entrepreneur carries on their shoulders are aspects that most people do not see nor understand.

Entrepreneurs top most health statistics on the wrong side

Ben Ridler. Founder at RESULTS.com. Auckland, New Zealand.

Being an entrepreneur is a privilege which affords us a lifestyle that most people think they would love. What many don’t understand is the personal cost.

Entrepreneurs top most health statistics on the wrong side; particularly for mental health where our numbers are appalling. Two thirds are diagnosed with a diagnosed mental health condition, and nearly half diagnosed with with two mental health conditions. We also have higher rates of heart attacks and cancer than most of the people who work for us.

Stress and diet are the two biggest contributors to the state of health in the western world, and as entrepreneurs, we need to be cognisant of the impact of stress, and do everything that we can to offset it. This ranges from diet to mindfulness, and exercise to knowing how to switch off. The way I see it, there is no point in being successful financially, and not having good health.

Having been in this game for a long time now, learning to manage stress and understand the role it plays in health has been a big part of my journey. Full disclosure, I thought I was handling it OK, and by OK I thought that drinking a bottle of wine each night and having a “blow out” on the weekends was “business as usual”.

After exiting my last venture, I decided to focus on health and relationships before rushing into my next venture. In that time, I changed my relationship with health, money and ultimately myself. Learning why we need release valves and choosing ones that were better for my health was a big move. Moving away from alcohol also made me learn to deal with emotions instead of charging on and ignoring them.

Learning about sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and how to not stay in a stressed state for long periods was also lifesaving; my way of operating was not sustainable.

The sad fact is that few entrepreneurs have long careers because it’s a brutal, life-shortening role and comes with huge cost. For example, with COVID-19, many entrepreneurs have to let people go, and making those tough calls isn’t something we do without it taking a huge toll on ourselves (as well as the people it impacts).

Ultimately, redefining success and creating a vision for myself that was not about what I could attain but who I could become, and the values that I will live, has been a journey. As I head back into the world of business, I’m excited about testing this new approach to managing energy and health as part of my journey to be the best that I can be.

The mind of an entrepreneur is a gift and a curse

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

I wish people understood the sheer amount of thought pattern processes and activity in the mind of an entrepreneur, and the way they see opportunities when other don’t. It’s the gift, and at the same time the curse, of an entrepreneur.

There are approximately 70,000–80,000 thoughts that adult humans have each day. I often feel that there are 140,000 thoughts that go through my mind before lunchtime, so I think the biggest thing is how to understand and harness that the energy and enthusiasm of an entrepreneur who often don’t put time against capabilities and abilities to perform tasks in that time i.e. they often overcommit and often complete things up to 75%.

The mind is more flighty, and definitely more scattered, but the part of the brain that triggers fear around risk is often more relaxed in an entrepreneur and, although they will be calculated, they are still stronger risk-takers than others.

You’re working 80+ hours a week for yourself so that you avoid working 40 or so hours for someone else

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

Being an entrepreneur means you’re basically working 80+ hours a week for yourself so that you avoid working 40 or so hours for someone else.

So whatever you’re doing, make sure you really care about the problem you’re solving because you’re going to be tested many times throughout your journey.

What distinguishes entrepreneurs from non-entrepreneurs is their appetite for risk

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

People often believe that entrepreneurs are more ruthless, or more creative, or more driven, or more intelligent, or are otherwise “ideas people”. Yet, the key difference between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs is simply their appetite for risk. What are you willing to risk to become your own boss? To pursue a new idea?

After all, your endeavour may fail. It will in fact fail 9 out of 10 times. The odds are stacked against you.

In the meantime, you’ve sacrificed time with friends, job security, perhaps even the stability of your marriage. So, is what you’re passionate about worth that sacrifice, even if it all ends up failing? That is what it means to an entrepreneur, and that is what separates everyone else from them.

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

If you change the way you look at the world, your world will change

Being an entrepreneur gives you countless opportunities to practice making conscious and intentional choices in: (1) keeping things simple; and (2) choosing how we approach problems/reach to events.

I’m in constant amazement with: (1) how prone people are to making things more complicated than they need be; and (2) how quickly people get bogged down with the little details i.e. things that won’t matter in 10 years’ time.

On simplicity: The act of keeping things simple, is complex (and dare-I-say the ultimate sophistication). Simple problems require simple solutions. Complex problems require even simpler solutions. This type of thinking is rare.

On how we look at problems: The idea–that things that can signal the end of the world to one person and can result in what I call “analysis paralysis” or “constipation via contemplation” can be inconsequential to another–is an intriguing one, and speaks to the idea that how one looks at the world is how one experiences the world. For example, where one sees obstacles and problems, another sees opportunities for learning and growth. In the former, life is a struggle. In the latter, life is a journey of learning, expansion and growth.

How you look at the world is how you experience the world. In other words, if you change the way you look at the world, your world will change.

No one sees the grind, the long nights at the dining room table while the partner and children sleep, and the hours glued to the computer screen while friends are out having fun

Matt Woods. President at Coastal Mountain Excavation. Whistler, Canada.

As an entrepreneur, you have a blank canvas to build your future. You have the freedom to create a lifestyle and business you’ve always dreamed of, and once you’ve been at it for a while, you really get to see what you’re made of.

Having a normal job and being an employee for some people is enough i.e. working 9–5 and going home to the family at the end of the day and leaving your work behind is enough. For an entrepreneur, however, it’s never enough. The thrill of the hunt, and working and grinding like you’ve never known possible is so ultimately satisfying that it makes all the long days and nights worth the struggle.

For me any challenge or roadblock is just another opportunity to buckle down, problem solve, and work my way through any situation that in the past I would have considered impossible. It’s the ultimate opportunity to prove to yourself who you really are, show yourself what you’re made of and what you’re capable of.

The sense of accomplishment, of self-satisfaction, of gaining confidence, of leading people, and of building something together is incredibly rewarding. It’s not the destination that matters at all, it’s the journey and the lessons learned along the way that really teach you what the human brain and body can endure for an extended period of time.

There is also no such thing as an overnight success. Most people think entrepreneurs have a great idea and somehow, boom, overnight, they’re incredible wealthy and successful. No one sees the grind, the long nights at the dining room table while the partner and children sleep, and the hours glued to the computer screen while friends are out having fun.

It’s all the toiling, the will and the fight that entrepreneurship gifts you. Sometimes it’s really hard to appreciate it, but you need the experience, the wins, the losses, the grit, and the determination to see it through to completion that allow you to look back and be extremely proud of yourself.

Entrepreneurs are the crazy ones

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

Many people start their entrepreneurial journey reading about someone successful in a magazine article or Facebook post, and think to themselves, “I want to be rich and time-free like him/her”. And then once the business starts, reality hits EXTREMELY HARD because they discover that the two things they don’t have are: (1) money; and (2) time. Ironic isn’t it.

And then there are some that start their business because they have a different driver, motive or purpose, and no matter how hard things get, they keep on keeping on.

Steve Jobs once said: “Entrepreneurs are the crazy ones. The ones who push the boundaries. Who don’t say no. Who never seem to die.”

Entrepreneurship is tough! On many days most of us will say, “This is not worth it,” because it affects not only ourselves but everything and everyone around us. But those of us who are successful push forward because in some way, we want to change the world; even just a little bit.

We work 16 hours a day so we don’t have to work 8 hours a day

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.

We work 16 hours a day so we don’t have to work 8 hours a day.

Entrepreneurs can see the future well before others

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

One estimate is that non-entrepreneurs make up 92% of the population. Even if it is a little less or a little more, the fact is that most people are non-entrepreneurs, and think very much the same way. Non-entrepreneurs do not realise that entrepreneurs think so differently.

Entrepreneurs can see the future, well before others even start the process. So, entrepreneurs see the end result and go backwards to the start position, while non-entrepreneurs start at the beginning and work through a process.

The entrepreneur’s mind is like a computer insofar as it does the analysis so quick that it arrives at the end result within seconds. Once non-entrepreneurs understand this, they can go through the process from the beginning, as a check on the entrepreneur’s end result (when they work together).

I’ll caveat this with stating that the entrepreneur’s end result is not always right, so the non-entrepreneur’s check is important, but it shouldn’t slow down the entrepreneur moving forward.

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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Culture isn’t about one certain element. It is not about having a cool space. I’ve worked with businesses with basketball courts, foosball tables, and drinks every Friday night. No one element creates culture and you cannot fabricate it. If you do not have the right people, the right leadership, and a clear vision, it doesn’t matter how cool you got in the business. These other things are like cherries on top of that which creates culture.” — Lisa Spiden

The fact that you have a business and that you have staff, you’ve got culture. Whether it is a good or a bad culture, you still have a culture that exists. You constantly monitoring and making sure it is where you want it to be. The core thing that influence culture is leadership.” — Lisa Spiden

Choose a model. Choose an idea. Choose something to fall on. I don’t have all the answers. I never have. I never will. But other people have done it. If someone has done it before, learn from them, grow from them.” — Tristan White

I had an interview with Emma Isaacs and I asked her, “What is the one piece of advice you wish you known a long time ago?” She said, “Believe in myself.” As I reflect on that conversation, I think about my own journey, that is one thing that I haven’t done. Believe in yourself. challenge yourself. Learn, grow, stretch, rest, and then do it all again.” — Tristan White

Have amazing people around you that you can bounce ideas off; like mentors, and people you trust that can help guide you. It helps keep you sane.” — Lisa Spiden

Recruitment is a dating process. We will try to decide if we want to spend more time with people. The first date moves on to a longer second date and to another date. And if things go well? You get married and you start working together.” — Tristan White

There are so many things we can learn, and it’ll be great learn them all in advance, but know where you are in that moment in time. Know the biggest challenge or the biggest bottleneck, dive into it head on, and then deal with it before moving on to the next challenge.” — Tristan White

If you want to reach out to someone who has commercial experience that you’ve either seen, know, or know that you will gain valuable experience from them, be straightforward. One sentence is great. Say, “I love your work. I’ve got a specific question. I’d like to ask you about X. Can I please have a small amount of your time?” — Tristan White

With thanks to

Tristan White founded The Physio Co in 2004. 5 years later he had 20 employees and what he calls a great big mess. After addressing his organisation’s culture, Tristan has grown from 20 to 150 happy, engaged and enthusiastic employees in less than a decade.

Lisa Spiden is the Founder and Managing Director of fibreHR and Roster Right. Working in HR in London and Australia, across banking, fast-moving consumer goods, IT and communication, Lisa has seen the best and worst of cultures. With a great culture comes discretionary effort from employees, which Lisa says is the best way for your business to set itself apart from the competition.

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.

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.

Never give someone else permission to treat you in a way that is contrary to your values, principles, and beliefs

Demi Markogiannaki. Founder at WeTeachMe. Melbourne, Australia.

The best advice I have ever received came from one of my mentors from the US. It’s an amazing life lesson, and one that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

During one of our regular catchups, I was complaining about how I felt helpless while dealing with a co-worker that was being a bully. I remember vividly how I went on and on about how much I disliked the way my co-worker treated people, and the detrimental effect that this behaviour was having on the workplace culture.

I confessed how I constantly felt unhappy, stressed and unappreciated; how nothing was ever good enough; and how this co-worker had an uncanny ability to find the negative in just about everything.

After I finished unloading, my mentor looked at me in the eye and said, “I don’t feel sorry for you. I apologise if this sounds insensitive, but you are only allowing yourself and others to be bullied. Stand up for yourself. Build yourself up so that you will be able to handle situations like this. You have the power to call this co-worker out, and to tell them to shut up. If you, don’t have the ability to stand up for yourself, how are you going to stand up for, and support, others?”

My learning is that to be an effective leader, one that can both protect and elevate others, starts from being able to lead yourself. It starts from having the courage to stand up for your values, your principles, and your beliefs, and never ever give permission to anyone else to treat you in a way that is contrary to your values, principles and beliefs.

Find the puzzle pieces

Emma Welsh. Founder at Emma & Tom’s. Melbourne, Australia.

Talk to as many experienced people as you can. Each person that you talk to will have one small piece of the puzzle, and not the entire puzzle.

Your job, as an entrepreneur, is to find as many pieces of the puzzle as you can, from as many different, experienced people as possible, and then to construct your own version of that puzzle as best as you can.

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?

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