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How Our Actions And Results Align

filed in Entrepreneurship, Success

If we want attention, we must deliver value.
If we want to be innovative, we must practice empathy.
If we want loyalty, we must give respect.
If we want to be believed, we must earn trust.
If we want rewards, we must embrace risks.
If we want to matter, we must create meaning.

We not only reap what we sow but also how and why we sow.

Image by carnagenyc

Making Your Mark

filed in Brand Story, Entrepreneurship

Making a mark is not something we talk openly about that much, but it’s something we think about a hell of a lot. From the grandmother who hands down her legendary Christmas pudding recipe, to my Uber driver who, despite having held a managerial position with a big retailer for sixteen years, ‘wants to build something of his own’. From the street artist who feels like he has no voice, to the financial planner who wants to teach the next generation of children how their small actions today can impact their future.

The fear that we might run out of time to make our mark is one of the reasons we strive to get better at telling our stories. But if the truth is what’s at the heart of all great stories, we can’t begin to make a mark until we acknowledge and articulate what we’re really here to do. Once you’re honest with yourself about the real work you care about and why, you can begin to unapologetically make the mark you hoped to make.

Image by Steffi Lange.

Changing People’s Minds

filed in Brand Strategy, Entrepreneurship

We spend a lot of time trying to convince people of our opinion at work, in business and in life. If only we could attract more customers. If only the customers we had could be persuaded to spend more. If only our colleagues could see the sense of doing it this way? If only the team leader would approve the budget. If only they would listen.

What if we stopped devoting our energy to persuading those who may never change and began nurturing the relationships with the people who believe what we believe instead? How would that change our attitude, behaviour and sense of what’s possible? What would be the impact on our work be then?

It’s easier to find a like-mind than to change a closed one.

Image by Thomas Hawk.

No Success Without Fear

filed in Brand Strategy, Entrepreneurship

When Elon Musk unveiled his audacious vision to colonize Mars this week, commentators had as much to say about his hubris and lack or fear as they did about the plan itself. They remarked that Musk’s greatest strength is probably that he has never been afraid to fail. That’s just not true.
Of course he has. If he weren’t afraid of failure, he wouldn’t be invested in success. You can’t simultaneously care about something and then shrug your shoulders in the face of failure.
Fear and success go hand-in-hand.

The difference between Musk and many of us is what he fears more than failing, is not giving it his best shot. Our fear of failure has never been more real than it is today, in a world where we have more power than ever to determine our path in work and life. It’s scary as an entrepreneur to be the one creating the ideas, launching the business or leading the team without someone higher up the food chain to blame if it goes wrong. It’s also thrilling to know you are responsible when it works.

When you look back at anything you’ve achieved (however small), you realise that your success was always preceded by fear. And it will be again. You might not be on a mission to Mars, but your mission feels just as important and scary to you as Elon Musk’s feels to him. The fear is a sign that you care, and that you’re doing meaningful work. Don’t let it hold you back.

Image by SpaceX.

Not Everything Is An Opportunity

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Entrepreneurship

We first met casually, in a social situation one Saturday morning. Less than five minutes into the small talk Terry asked what I did for a living. No sooner had the words “I run my own business” left my lips, than his hand reached into his back pocket to draw out some business cards (one for me and a few for my friends). Terry is an accountant who specialises in small business.

His reaction was a reflex. He has learned to see any conversation with someone who is not employed as an opportunity. Of course Terry is trying to grow his business the only way he knows how, by using a scattershot approach, looking for the opportunity in every single encounter—because ‘you never know’.

Not every encounter is an opportunity to close a sale.
The way to succeed is not to clutch at all of the straws—it’s to have the discipline to discern.

Discernment and timing are two skills every marketer needs to cultivate, because ‘you never know’ is not a smart marketing strategy. We need to make understanding who our customers are, and who they’re not, a priority.

The best way to start is by taking time to consider the worldview of the person you’re trying to reach. Easier said than done, especially if your back is against the wall.
Luckily there’s a blueprint to help you make a start.

Image by David Tan.