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Businessman on Phone

A New World Without Email Alerts On Your Phone

Like most entrepreneurs, I don’t just like to win, I love to win and I hate to lose. The only thing worse than losing is the idea that someone might beat me because they outworked me. So, naturally, I put everything I have into winning – whether it’s starting a company, pick-up hockey, Pictionary with friends, or feather bowling at Cadieux Café.

 

Whether it’s email, voice, text, chat, or any other form of communication – people know how to track me down and can count on me to quickly get back with them. Historically, I’ve almost always seen new emails regardless of where I was when the email arrived – in a meeting, at church, at dinner, or at a football game. I like knowing what’s going on and take pride in always being on top of things.

 

Recently, however, I discovered that I’ve been acting like a fool for years.

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Stadium Energy

Change Your Business With a Meaningful Hello and Goodbye Each Day

Without question, the worst part of my otherwise amazing business school experience was being immersed in the anxious negative energy created from being one of the five hundred Type A MBA students going through interview season together. I have vivid memories walking through the beautiful Winter Garden at Chicago Booth (pictured at left) and feeling overwhelmed by the high-stress energy of my classmates throughout recruiting season. Just from walking into the Winter Garden, where my classmates often gathered, I immediately felt the anxiety in the air. Even before I could observe body language or converse with any of my friends, the nervous energy and uncertainty was pumping through my veins.

 

Now, contrast this anxious energy with the energy you feel walking into a stadium on the day of the big game. Again, unaided by conversations or body language, we immediately feel the positive and energy and excitement that’s around us. The energy that surrounds us – positive or negative – has a tremendous impact on how we behave. Our bodies are wired to respond differently based on the energy we’re surrounded by. Positive energy begets positive action and negative energy gives our brains the green light to allow negative thoughts to creep into our minds. Sometimes we consciously feel this energy, but mostly we gather our cues subconsciously.

 

What if we could change the energy we’re surrounded by? What if we could make the energy our entire team was living and breathing more positive and more conducive to collaboration? What if we were simply too positive to be negative? How would that impact our productivity?

 

As is often the case, there’s good news and bad news.

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Athlete Moving

Stop Being a Wantrepreneur. Start Being an Entrepreneur.

The difference between entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs is simple: wantrepreneurs pursue inspiration and entrepreneurs create inertia. And believe me…the power of inertia is stronger than the power of inspiration.

There are countless websites dedicated to inspirational quotes. We subscribe to daily inspiration emails. We pay $6.99 for a card with an inspiring line. Co-working spaces spend thousands of dollars to paint inspirational quotes on walls.

 

Ever wonder why we love inspiration so much? We love inspiration because it delivers a short-term feeling of connection to our work and makes us believe we’re inching closer to being the person we want to be. In other words, inspiration makes us feel warm & fuzzy inside.

 

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Founders in Startup Office

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Startup Founder Communication

Leadership is communication and effective communication is always a challenge, even in the most ideal environments. So what does that mean for communication for the time-starved, high-stakes, high-failure world of startups? It means everything – especially for founders.

When you think of early-sate startups, think college roommates. Close living quarters and a general lack of maturity lead college roommates to fight; poor communication (of course, binge drinking probably didn’t help) often ends college friendships. The shared desks, tight quarters, and crazy hours of startups make communication scarcely different for start-ups. If you have any chance of growing to become a successful company, you better have strong founder communication.

 

Start-ups, like any type of relationship, require different communication strategies over time. A first date requires an entirely different skillset than what’s needed to maintain a healthy and productive marriage. To be successful in your startup, you’re got to nail communication in every step in the journey. If you don’t get it right when the only employees at your business are the founders – you won’t get a second date…and you certainly won’t get to successfully manage a team.

 

Many founders, especially young founders and first-time founders, exclusively focus on their product & customers at the expense of giving thought to team communication. Poor founder communication leads to wasted time, decisions revisited over & over, and a dysfunctional culture that’s tough to overcome. Accelerators and incubators around the country are littered with failed start-ups thanks to poor communication.

 

In my years in the start-up world, I’ve seen a few recurring behaviors and patterns that predict successful communication versus startups that stall out after that first date. Here’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

 

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Untitled design (2)

Prepare to Succeed Every Single Day

That Ben Franklin – he was one smart chap. Franklin invented bifocals, streetlights, swim fins (yes, swim fins) and electricity. As if that wasn’t enough, Big Ben was willing to prove his worth by flying a kite with a key on it during a lightning storm. Talk about scrappy?

As entrepreneurs and creators, there are a lot of lessons to learn from Ben Franklin. One that stands out here at The Disciplined Entrepreneur is Big Ben’s ability to balance creativity with intense planning. His quote, like his creative genius, was no joke:

 

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

As a management consultant for Fortune 500 companies, I noticed most of my clients were excellent when it came to long-term planning.

Twenty-year BHAG? You bet.

Five-Year Strategic Plan? Check.

One-Year Operating Budget? You better believe it…

Start-ups are no different. You create detailed plans that feed investor sharks and motivate your team. Armed with one, three, and five-year plans that invariably show the infamous hockey-stick growth, start-up leaders create a vision and a direction for what the company will become – key for any business success.

I’ve seen both big businesses & start-ups “get it” when it comes to long-term planning. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen that most professionals are unequivocally terrible when it comes to planning on a daily and weekly basis.

All too often I see smart people fail to plan and prepare for meetings. People concede their day-to-day focus by jamming too many meetings in a day, drifting into the distraction that is the internet, spending too many hours with the inbox, and letting the urgent get in the way of the important.

Sound familiar?

If you’re ready to take back your day, it’s time to be more thoughtful in terms of how you manage each day. Here’s how to jump-start your productivity right now:

 

1) Write the Email Before the Meeting.

Have an important meeting that’s likely to require follow-up? Go ahead and write the follow-up email BEFORE the meeting. This simple practice will force you to clarify your perspective and increase focus during your meeting. Whether your meeting is a sales call, a feedback session with an employee, or a discussion with an investor – take the time before the meeting to compose the email.

This process allows you to visualize success in the meeting and it’s particularly important you take the time to do this for tough conversations, like when you’re sharing areas for improvement with someone on your team. Athletes visualize success on the playing field; disciplined entrepreneurs prepare and refine their talking points before meetings.

 

2) Never schedule a meeting without scheduling time to prepare.

For leaders in any business, the single most valuable asset we own is our time, so think through every meeting before they appear on your calendar. Anything that makes it through your filter and onto your calendar is worthy of adequate preparation.

As a starting point, block off 30 minutes of prep time for every meeting you have on your calendar. Use the 30 minutes to document your personal objectives for the meeting, the stated meeting objectives, potential questions and responses, plus one new point of connection between you and each person in the meeting.

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Hiring

One Simple Strategy To Hire Proven Winners

Keep it Simple Stupid. It is a beautiful approach − so long as you don’t complicate things.

 

Let’s go back to the fundamentals of business: the team is the single most important part of your business and there’s two parts to having a world-class team:

  1. Hire great talent
  2. Create an amazing environment for the team to grow and thrive

 

Establishing and maintaining the right environment for your team is an ongoing process, but you only hire someone once. Let’s get it right. You can drastically increase your odds of success by doing one simple thing in the interview process, yet very few take the initiative to get this right. Invest the time and reap the rewards.

 

Ready to transform your hiring process and maximize your odds of success? Here’s the one thing you must do as part of the interview process:

 

Have the candidate complete an activity that mirrors what they will do on the job

Look at their resume – read what they have done.

Ask them questions – listen to what they have done.

Stalk them online – see (perhaps quite colorfully) what they have done.

No matter what you do or what type of questions you choose to ask or not ask – have the courage to ask the candidate to do something during the interview.

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