“Why am I doing this?” That’s the question dominating a President’s Advisory Committee board meeting (PAC). None of the members—all business owners—intend to give or sell their business to their children. Instead, in a reversal of traditional social norms, all of them plan to use their wealth to empower their children on whatever paths the kids happen to choose.. Continue reading YOUR BUSINESS AND YOUR CHILDREN
I’m writing this for you right now, but I should be working on a project. But hey, I’m creating, right? This is good. This is right-brain. This is the opposite of doing nothing. This is the opposite of just consuming.
That’s what our story says. That’s what we tell ourself. But is it true?
Creating is Procrastinating
We work from plans (if we’re lucky). My plan, today, is to get a better start to the month because last month didn’t really hit my goals. But instead of doing that, I’m creating. Yay, creation.
The difference, as with all matters, is knowing which is which. This creation? This work I’m making for you? It’s not productive (though it will be). It’s me taking a pause before doing the grind work, the stuff that needs doing that isn’t as sexy, that isn’t as fun, that isn’t as right brain.
Will this help? Will sharing this information make some kind of positive motion for the rest of my goals? Not immediately. But maybe it is a warm up, a way to shake off the cobwebs. No. Not really. It’s procrastination.
Be Honest With Yourself
People misunderstand the best use of honesty. It’s never best to aim your honesty at others. Saying what you truly feel can often come with painful consequences. But when you are pure and honest with yourself, that’s gold.
I’m being lazy right now, and instead of doing what needs doing, I’m creating. I’m not even creating something that’s due this week. I’m making something that’s due never, that might or might not be part of a better project. That’s the honest reality.
Be Compassionate With Yourself
Okay, so maybe that’s what I needed to do right now. Maybe now I can get on with the work that needs doing. That’s what then. This is now.
It’s okay to accept that my need to be creative served no real ends (at least not now). But now that I have, it’s time to move forward. Just like you. Reading this isn’t moving your goals forward. You’re stalling. Just like me.
Nod knowingly. And move on. Now.
Chris Brogan stopped writing this so he could work on Human Business Works.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
If you find it difficult to say no, you’re not alone. Many of us find it hard to put our foot down. So much of what we’re told about success revolves around the idea of saying yes: to new ideas, new innovations, and new opportunities. But becoming a yes man (or woman) can put a real strain on your productivity, creativity, and happiness.
In fact, research by the University of California in San Francisco shows the more difficulty people have saying no, the more likely they are to experience stress, burnout, and even ultimately depression. Plenty of studies have linked stress and fatigue to reduced productivity and engagement on the job.
You need to learn when to say no — and how to say it — to ensure you don’t burn any bridges in your career. Here are 10 entrepreneurs sharing how they say no and keep themselves sane:
1. Explain Why
I find people are always impressed with honesty. Time is finite, especially as an entrepreneur. When I have to say no, I do my best to explain what my focus is and why I can’t say yes. I usually find people respect the honesty and wish me the best.
2. Exude Grace and Gratitude
People get it. You’re busy, it’s not a good fit and the timing isn’t right. But what makes a big difference is how you treat people. If you can be gracious and show your gratitude for the opportunities or potential client/hire’s time, people will respect your “no” so much more.
3. Never Apologize
“No” should never be accompanied by “I’m so sorry, but I can’t because…” When it’s necessary to say “no” to a request (whether it’s from a client, an employee, etc.), simply explain your reasoning and leave things open for a potential “yes” down the line. Never use apology language — it assigns blame.
4. Do It Constructively
Having heard my fair share of “no” before, I believe that even though it can sometimes sting, eventually the most beneficial ones are given in an honest and constructive manner. Let me know how I went wrong and how I can improve. Only by learning can you hope to get a “yes” the next time.
– Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
5. Be Direct and Concise
A no-response should be short, direct and to the point. It is not meant to open up a dialogue. Let the person know you are declining the opportunity, and wish him or her good luck with the project. The more details you provide in your response, the more ammunition the individual will have to forge a rebuttal argument as to why you should say yes. – Anthony Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings
6. Say No Quickly
Requests from clients, pitches or potential hires that are not right for you will thwart your ambition.
Say no quickly and politely and move on.
– Kuty Shalev, Clevertech
7. Say It Carefully
Besides being polite in saying no, try to communicate what you mean by “no.” Do you mean “not now” or “never”? This will often help those you’re saying no to have a better grasp on why you’re saying it in the first place. You will both move on quicker that way.
8. Tell Them It’s Not a Good Fit
Business is built on win-win relationships. Relationships that are built on people who don’t have the same expectations, values or intent will result in everyone losing. It’s incredibly important that, much like a marriage, there is a good fit between the two parties. If there’s not, then you’ll do more damage by working with them than by just walking away. It’s just not a good fit, and that’s OK. – Adam Callinan, BottleKeeper
9. Accompany It With a ‘But’
As my business grows so do the number of requests hitting my inbox every day. One of my 2014 promises to myself is to say no more often. When I do have to say it, there’s usually a “but.” “No, but I know another company I can refer you to that might want to take this on.” “No, but I’m happy to recommend another speaker.” “No, I can’t meet for coffee, but I have a blog post on that topic.” – Natalie MacNeil, She Takes on the World
10. Make It So You Don’t Have to Say ‘No’
Saying no requires you to pay attention in the first place, and this requires time and resources that could be better spent saying yes. This is why we have a very specific understanding of not just who our ideal customers/employees are, but more importantly, who they aren’t. By knowing what we don’t want, we can better filter out those people before we even have to say “no.” – Liam Martin, Staff.com
About Ilya Pozin:
Founder of Open Me and Ciplex. Columnist for Inc, Forbes & LinkedIn. Gadget lover, investor, mentor, husband, father, and ’30 Under 30′ entrepreneur. Follow Ilya below to stay up-to-date with his articles and updates!
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I found this post on Quora. This is confession of Paul DeJoe from Ecquire.com.
Very tough to sleep most nights of the week. Weekends don’t mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a relief. It means more people are depending on you to turn their investment into 20 times what they gave you.
It’s very difficult to “turn it off”. But at the same time, television, movies and vacations become so boring to you when your company’s future might be sitting in your inbox or in the results of a new A/B test you decide to run.
You feel guilty when you’re doing something you like doing outside of the company. Only through years of wrestling with this internal fight do you recognize how the word “balance” is an art that is just as important as any other skill set you could ever hope to have. You begin to see how valuable creativity is and that you must think differently not only to win, but to see the biggest opportunity. You recognize you get your best ideas when you’re not staring at a screen. You see immediate returns on healthy distractions.
You start to respect the Duck. Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you. You learn the hard way that if you lose your cool you lose.
You always ask yourself if I am changing the World in a good way? Are people’s lives better for having known me?
You are creative and when you have an idea it has no filter before it becomes a reality. This feeling is why you can’t do anything else.
You start to see that the word “entrepreneur” is a personality. It’s difficult to talk to your friends that are not risking the same things you are because they are content with not pushing themselves or putting it all out there in the public with the likelihood of failure staring at you everyday. You start to turn a lot of your conversations with relatives into how they might exploit opportunities for profit. Those close to you will view your focus as something completely different because they don’t understand. You don’t blame them. They can’t understand if they haven’t done it themselves. It’s why you will gravitate towards other entrepreneurs. You will find reward in helping other entrepreneurs. This is my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know if I can help you with anything.
Your job is to create a vision, a culture, to get the right people on the bus and to inspire. When you look around at a team that believes in the vision as much as you do and trusts you will do the right thing all the time, it’s a feeling that can’t be explained. The exponential productivity from great people will always amaze you. It’s why finding the right team is the most difficult thing you will do but the most important. This learning will affect your life significantly. You will not settle for things anymore because you will see what is possible when you hold out for the best and push to find people that are the best. You don’t have a problem anymore being honest with people about not cutting it.
You start to see that you’re a leader and you have to lead or you can’t be involved with it at all. You turn down acquisition offers because you need to run the show and you feel like your team is the best in the World and you can do anything with hard work. Quitting is not an option.
You have to be willing to sleep in your car and laugh about it. You have to be able to laugh at many things because when you think of the worse things in the World that could happen to your company, they will happen. Imagine working for something for two years and then have to throw it out completely because you see in one day that it’s wrong. You realize that if your team is having fun and can always laugh that you won’t die, and in fact, the opposite will happen: you will learn to love the journey and look forward to what you do everyday even at the lowest times. You’ll hear not to get too low when things are bad and not to get too high when things are good and you’ll even give that advice. But you’ll never take it because being in the middle all the time isn’t exciting and an even keel is never worth missing out on something worth celebrating. You’ll become addicted to finding the hardest challenges because there’s a direct relationship between how difficult something is and the euphoria of a feeling when you do the impossible.
You realize that it’s much more fun when you didn’t have money and that money might be the worse thing you could have as a personal goal. If you’re lucky enough to genuinely feel this way, it is a surreal feeling that is the closest thing to peace because you realize it’s the challenges and the work that you love. Your currencies are freedom, autonomy, responsibility and recognition. Those happen to be the same currencies of the people you want around you.
You feel like a parent to your customers in that they will never realize how much you love them and it is they who validate you are not crazy. You want to hug every one of them. They mean the World to you.
You learn the most about yourself more than any other vocation as an entrepreneur. You learn what you do when you get punched in the face many many times. You learn what you do when no one is looking and when no one would find out. You learn that you are bad at many things, lucky if you’re good at a handful of things and the only thing you can ever be great at is being yourself which is why you can never compromise it. You learn how power and recognition can be addicting and see how it could corrupt so many.
You become incredibly grateful for the times that things were going as bad as they possibly could. Most people won’t get to see this in any other calling. When things are really bad, there are people that come running to help and don’t think twice about it. Tal Raviv, Gary Smith, Joe Reyes, Toan Dang, Vincent Cheung, Eric Elinow, Abe Marciano are some of them. I will forever be in their debt and I could never repay them nor would they want or expect to be repaid.
You begin to realize that in life, the luckiest people in the World only get one shot at being a part of something great. Knowing this helps you make sense of your commitment.
Of all the things said though, it’s exciting. Every day is different and so exciting. Even when it’s bad it’s exciting. Knowing that your decisions will not only affect you but many others is a weight that I would rather have any day than the weight of not controlling my future. That’s why I could not do anything else.
This article is a part of collection of the Startup on the road.
In explaining my resume, I often say that I’m a two-time entrepreneur.
But that’s a lie. I’ve actually started four businesses.
I started one of those businesses (CrowdVine) to prove to myself that I could run a company. Then I started my current business (Lift) to represent my biggest passion. That’s the two-time entrepreneur part of the story—the part that I’m proud of.
Before those two businesses, I was also fake-started two other businesses.
Wantrepreneur is another word for poser. This is the person who talks about starting a business and who begs you to take their idea seriously. If you’re polite, you do take them seriously—until you realize that the wantrepreneur is never going to actually launch their idea (or even start building it).
There are tons of these people hanging around startup communities. They talk about the big ideas and how, if they can just get funding or find a co-founder or save a bit more money, then they are going to leave their well paid corporate job and turn their idea into the biggest thing the world has ever seen.
I used to look down on this person. But then I remembered that I was that person. Twice.
In high school, after getting and falling in love with my first computer, I decided that I wanted to help other people with their computer problems.
So I brainstormed a consulting business that would go into people’s homes to fix personal computer problems.
I talked to my family about this idea for weeks. I was focused on one big decision: should charge $15 per hour or could I convince people to pay $25 per hour.
Eventually, I just bit the bullet, picked a price and started work on a flyer. I printed little tear tabs with my name and phone number on that flyer. Then I took the flyer (just one) to UCSF, where my mom worked, and put that flyer up on a billboard.
That one flyer was the sum total of the execution phase of my tech support business. Nobody called, and I never printed out a second flyer.
Much later, after I’d graduated college and started working my first job as a programmer, I got it into my head that I could build a consulting business making restaurant websites.
Many restaurant websites are missing or hiding the only pieces of information that matter: phone number, address, hours, menu, and reservation information.
This was especially true in 2001.
I reasoned that I would also have to make the websites look beautiful. To do that I would have to learn the art of food photography. With no research, I decided this was the key to the business.
I bought my first digital camera, making sure that the camera was rated highly for close-up shots. Then I bought a book on photography.
That was the sum total of the execution phase of this restaurant business. I took many vacation photos with that camera, but never a single photo of food.
What did it take to get me to actually start a business? I had to get comfortable as a programmer, work at a few startups, and observe other founders by working for them.
No amount of advice was ever going to turn my restaurant or tech support ideas into real businesses. Mentally, I just wasn’t ready. I needed to do some maturation and visualization. That took me six years.
Obviously, wantrepreneur is a pejorative. We use this word to make fun of people who seem like fakers. Let me propose a less judgemental word: pre-preneur. If you meet a pre-preneur, let them play out their fantasy. You might run into them again, running a company, several years down the road.
As an entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate. Staying focused can be tough with a constant stream of employees, clients, emails, and phone calls demanding your attention. Amid the noise, understanding your brain’s limitations and working around them can improve your focus and increase your productivity.
Our brains are finely attuned to distraction, so today’s digital environment makes it especially hard to focus. “Distractions signal that something has changed,” says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). “A distraction is an alert says, ‘Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.'” The brain’s reaction is automatic and virtually unstoppable.
While multitasking is an important skill, it also has a downside. “It reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ,” Rock says. “We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t, or spell things wrong.”
To make matters worse, distraction feels great. “Your brain’s reward circuit lights up when you multitask,” Rock says, meaning that you get an emotional high when you’re doing a lot at once.
Ultimately, the goal is not constant focus, but a short period of distraction-free time every day. “Twenty minutes a day of deep focus could be transformative,” Rock says.
Try these three tips to help you become more focused and productive:
1. Do creative work first. Typically, we do mindless work first and build up to the toughest tasks. That drains your energy and lowers your focus. “An hour into doing your work, you’ve got a lot less capacity than (at the beginning),” Rock says. “Every decision we make tires the brain.”
In order to focus effectively, reverse the order. Check off the tasks that require creativity or concentration first thing in the morning, and then move on to easier work, like deleting emails or scheduling meetings, later in the day.
2. Allocate your time deliberately. By studying thousands of people, Rock found that we are truly focused for an average of only six hours per week. “You want to be really diligent with what you put into those hours,” he says.
Most people focus best in the morning or late at night, and Rock’s studies show that 90 percent of people do their best thinking outside the office. Notice where and when you focus best, then allocate your toughest tasks for those moments.
3. Train your mind like a muscle. When multitasking is the norm, your brain quickly adapts. You lose the ability to focus as distraction becomes a habit. “We’ve trained our brains to be unfocused,” Rock says.
Practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing your attention to a single task. Start small, maybe five minutes per day, and work up to larger chunks of time. If you find your mind wandering, just return to the task at hand. “It’s just like getting fit,” Rock says. “You have to build the muscle to be focused.”
Nadia Goodman is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, NY. She is a former editor at YouBeauty.com, where she wrote about the psychology of health and beauty. She earned a B.A. in English from Northwestern University and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University. Visit her website, nadiagoodman.com.
I love bumping into people and finding out who they are and what they’re working on. You never know who you’re going to meet. Such encounters can be valuable: If you think about how your most important relationships began — with business partners, your spouse, with friends and mentors — the stories will almost all involve chance meetings. My curiosity about others and ability to connect with people have helped me to succeed — after all, if people don’t know who you are, they are not going to do business with you.
Many people think that an entrepreneur is someone who operates alone, overcoming challenges and bringing his idea to market through sheer force of personality. This is completely inaccurate. Few entrepreneurs — scratch that: almost no one — ever achieved anything worthwhile without help. To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate.
Finding ways to meet with people in the real world and build business relationships is becoming ever more important in the digital age. While in some industries it’s possible for employees to limit their communications to email and, if they wish, avoid interacting with colleagues (and their managers), that’s not possible for entrepreneurs, since relationships built on trust are vital to doing business.
This is why I make a point of attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, whenever I can. The event is ridiculed in some quarters for its sheer scale — according to The Economist, 2,622 people gathered in that small town in January, including 46 presidents and prime ministers, representatives of firms with a total value of $12 trillion on the stock market, and many celebrities and journalists. However, the very action of bringing these powerful people together makes Davos useful, even vital.
Some of the events I attended at this year’s forum included discussions of: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights; the role of business in philanthropy; conservation and climate change; and tech investments of all sorts, from health to space travel. Equally useful were the random chats with acquaintances in restaurants and hotels. I spoke with the actor Matt Damon about clean water initiatives (he is a co-founder of Water.org, a nonprofit that helps to bring water to impoverished communities), the angel investor and “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell about how to grow startups, and with the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates about overpopulation. Other such meetings at Davos will help to shape the future direction of many companies and organizations.
Steve Jobs, the entrepreneur I most admire, is remembered as a talented maverick and a loner, but that’s simply wrong. The Apple co-founder turned his personal vision into reality with the help of trusted, talented teams. How did he and his people come up with their ideas and solve the technological and design problems they encountered as they worked on Apple products? By spending time together. As Steve said to his biographer Walter Isaacson: “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
This is part of the reason why communities of entrepreneurs can turn into creative hubs. Look at Silicon Valley in California, BoxPark in London and other areas where like-minded people have banded together. Technology allows us to connect at the click of a button, but companies will still pay premiums to be near their competitors and others working in the same industry. When you are thinking about launching a startup, you should always look at whether setting up in one of your industry’s creative hubs would be a good choice.
If you are a business leader or entrepreneur and your team is primarily working from home or locations other than the office, keep watch to make sure that they are collaborating — your employees should not be just a list of email addresses or instant-messaging contacts. If you need to jump-start your team, events like hack days, conferences and outrageous parties can help people get to know each other and find creative solutions to problems.
The businesses that make up the Virgin Group operate in a variety of sectors, and we’ve been able to turn our unusual structure into an asset partly by encouraging employees to become intrapreneurs. When somebody in one business has an idea that would work at another, I always encourage them to give it a try. Lots of our employees have transformed their own careers and started new companies within our group in the process.
To achieve your goals, you need to be on the lookout for the opportunity to make connections wherever you go. Welcome chance encounters and opportunities to dream up outlandish plans. The person with the skill set you need to get your new business idea off the ground may be sitting at the next table in the cafe. Go over and say hello.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.