Being an entrepreneur is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. There is very little room for error. Therefore, it is important to learn as much as possible from other people’s mistakes and try not to repeat them.
In the past three years as an entrepreneur, I have accumulated a long list of “lessons learned” from my own experiences as well as from what I’ve observed from other entrepreneurs. Here are my top five things to avoid when doing a startup:
1. Having team members with identical skill sets and backgrounds when your company has fewer than five people. Startups are hard and you need people with the most diverse skill sets to be able to drive your company towards a product/market fit.
2. Hiring anyone who is not a rock star. It’s often hard to judge whether someone is an “A” player or not, especially if you are a first-time entrepreneur. That is why you need experienced mentors and advisers to help you assess candidates and hire only the best.
3. Raising too much money too early or raising too little money too late. Both of those scenarios are deadly for a startup. It is critical to raise the right amount of money at the right time.
For every business, the “right time and amount” is different. So make sure to talk to your advisers who have done it before to figure out what’s right for you.
4. Being afraid to pivot/not listening to customers. The path to success is never linear, and it is important to be able to recognize if and when you need to pivot. This doesn’t always mean a big overhaul, but you need to keep your finger on your users’ pulse to know if you need to make adjustments.
5. Not firing fast enough. You are small, you don’t have a lot of funding or time. Every person on the team who is not a top-notch performer or a cultural misfit is having a negative impact on your company’s progress (directly or indirectly). You need to be able to identify that fast (have a review process in place) and address it right away.
Sometimes you can find ways to mitigate the process and not have to let someone go, but figure out fast whether it’s a salvageable situation or not.
If you keep mindful of these pitfalls, your venture has a better chance of succeeding. I am now lucky to be leading an incredible team that built a beautiful product and has a big vision for addressing a true pain point in the market. ●
Aigerim Shorman is founder and CEO of Wist, a personalized local discovery that recommends top five places for you on the go that you’d actually be interested in. Previously, she was a Teach For America corps member and investment banking analyst. For more information, visit www.getwist.com.
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You know that you need to harness your data to stay competitive, but where will you find these data scientists? Before rushing to hire an army of computer science candidates with doctorates, understand what successful data science teams do.
Data scientists write code that applies complex algorithms to analyze and transform data into actionable insights, and help IT departments determine optimal structure for data storage. But transformation and storage are only pieces of the larger data life cycle.
Data science teams also need to do the following:
- Identify with business stakeholders what initiatives will solve a real need.
- Visualize and communicate the data intelligibly to business stakeholders.
- Design intuitive data products used by business stakeholders.
- Advise business stakeholders on the political and legal context for the data.
Finding an individual with expertise in everything is nearly impossible, but you can combine candidates that have the full breadth of knowledge with expertise in one or two of them. Diverse teams will yield the greatest return for your organization.
Recently, Booz Allen Hamilton hired a diverse group of experts to help synthesize a pharmaceutical client’s adverse-drug-reaction, social media, and lab and molecular data with research notes to reprioritize their drug research pipeline. For smaller companies lacking resources to hire or develop a team, use the questions you hope to answer to guide hiring. Sometimes the most challenging phase of the project has nothing to do with the computer programing.
Fit the team to the challenge
Stylitics, a startup that uses individuals’ closets to help designers and fashion houses predict fashion trends, wanted to answer the question: How can we learn the last 50 things you bought and the last 50 things you wore?
The company recognized that the most scalable way to capture this data was to provide immediate value back to users and create a digital closet that tracks what they wear, when they last wore it and so on.
The biggest challenge was data collection, not complex programming. In your business, the solutions you seek may not all require complicated engineering solutions, but rather a team or individual with the creativity and diversity to find it.
So what should you do to help your company deal with your own data challenges? Some next steps:
- Look internally — Often, it’s easier to provide training to someone already familiar with your business’ goals and data. You may discover that your next data scientist is not in tech.
- Develop a diagnostic — HR should develop internal diagnostics to identify appropriate candidates. Additional guidance can be found in reports from O’Reilly Media and Booz Allen Hamilton.
- Keep them sharp — The field of data science changes rapidly and you should provide opportunities to learn new techniques and skills when necessary. Master’s degrees, including a degree in information and data science, and other resources are increasingly available.
- Give them company — The best solutions come from teams with diverse experts. Starting off with one data scientist is fine, but try to have a plan to grow the team and listen closely to feedback from your initial hire(s). ●
AnnaLee Saxenian is dean and professor in the School of Information and professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. Her most recent book, “The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in the Global Economy,” explores how the “brain circulation” by immigrant engineers from Silicon Valley has transferred technology entrepreneurship to emerging regions in China, India, Taiwan and Israel.
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Not long ago, I went to Wal-Mart with my daughter. The store had certainly changed from the days of Mr. Sam Walton. Piles of discarded clothes languished in shopping carts outside the dressing room. Items were in disarray aisle after aisle. It took several tries to get help from distracted associates.
Later that day, I went to Amazon.com to buy a book. Like Wal-Mart, the Amazon homepage was chock-full of products — everything from running shoes to watches to power tools. And yes, books. I did some searching, but still needed to wade through several listings to find what I wanted.
Wal-Mart and Amazon are two corporate behemoths, and I certainly expect that they will remain successful enterprises for years to come. But I believe Amazon, like Wal-Mart, is at risk of becoming increasingly irrelevant to shoppers. Why? Because Amazon has lost the essence of what it is as a company and what its brand represents. Someday, our kids will be amazed to learn that Amazon was once the world leader in books.
This, I realize, must sound like heresy. Amazon sells everything, at such a great price! It’s so convenient! I agree. But here’s the thing: Convenience applies to online shopping in general. And while Amazon’s efficient operations and scale will make it tough for competitors to beat it on price, its brand is so diluted it’s hard to know exactly what the company sells.
Provide focused convenience
The fact that Amazon feels more and more like Wal-Mart — a seemingly random selection of unrelated items — will make it increasingly easy for competitors to pick off pieces of its business by providing more convenient ways to shop for specialty items.
If that sounds crazy, ask yourself why Amazon couldn’t beat Zappos in online shoes. It wasn’t for lack of trying: Amazon pushed its own Endless.com fashion site for years.
But Zappos had figured out that people wanted an easy way to shop for footwear. They hired customer service representatives who were prepared to talk shoes and built a website tailored to help people find the perfect pair. Consumers came to think of Zappos not as a place to buy shoes but as the place to buy shoes — even without discount prices. Finally,
Amazon wrote an $850 million surrender check to buy Zappos.
There’s a lesson here for all of us. Brands are most powerful when they do a specific something for a specific someone in a specific way. Ideally, the brand comes to be associated tightly in customers’ minds with a unique combination of these three elements.
Identify your brand
Too bad, for instance, Amazon didn’t start a separate brand for e-books — and call the new brand “Kindle.” Imagine how focused such a website would be: A one-stop shop for readers to find the best electronically published books.
Marketed properly, e-books could have become known as “Kindles” in the same way that tissues are commonly called “Kleenex.” What a waste of a great brand opportunity!
Instead, the Amazon homepage has women’s clothing featured alongside Kindle devices. That approach may work for the world’s largest online retailer, but only by virtue of its sheer size. For the rest of us, Amazon’s experience should be a warning: Don’t spread your brand too thin. ●
Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of Branders.com, the world’s largest and lowest-priced online promotional products company.
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How to reach: JerryMcLaughlin@branders.com
Not since the emergence of the cloud has information technology received more attention than the current buzz surrounding big data. As with cloud computing, it can sometimes be hard to decipher what big data really means.
Former SGI chief scientist John Mashey originally popularized the phrase, using it to describe the relentlessly expanding boundaries of computing — bigger processors, bigger memory, bigger networks and so on. Today, big data refers more specifically to harnessing value through analytics from a vast amount of data flooding business and government agencies.
Data is everywhere
Analytics and big data have become top 10 strategies among CIOs, according to a Gartner 2013 survey. Data is arriving in greater volume, at greater velocity and in far greater variety than ever before.
While data traditionally came from carefully structured business systems, it now pours in from online shopping, email, social media and countless other aspects of our increasingly digital lives. It arrives from a multitude of digital sensors in cars, factories, shipping containers, roadways, as well as video surveillance and many other machine-generated sources.
And it is largely “unstructured,” which means it doesn’t fit neatly in a conventional relational database.
Analytics lead to insights
Another reason for big data’s popularity is the rapid development of a new breed of data analytics tools that enable organizations to broadly mine the data, gain insights and capture value.
For example, marketing can uncover patterns in buying behavior to gain more customers and increase sales to existing ones. Manufacturing can better understand product performance to improve quality. Finance can more readily identify fraud to prevent loss. And physicians can utilize genetic profiles to treat patients more effectively.
From achieving competitive advantage to growing topline revenue to saving lives, the potential gains surrounding big data are far-reaching. They also present new challenges: How to derive value at greater speed, scale and efficiency.
Big computing for big imaginations
The magic behind big data lies in the computing environment, and much like solving big technical computing problems, big data analytics requires multiple computer processors — tens, hundreds or even thousands — all working in parallel. This is the world of high performance computing and, when leveraged effectively, it opens a world of possibilities.
In traditional HPC environments we start with a hypothesis, generate data and gain knowledge. Using HPC for big data analytics, we start with the data, then form the hypothesis and gain insight. The most common form of analytics utilizes a cluster of computers to essentially search across a broad data set for specific information. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.
There is also a form of big data analytics whereby the objective is not one of search, but of discovery. Here we look for relationships within the data in order to understand what the data is telling us. This form requires a computer system with massive amounts of shared memory. Such a system can also deliver results in microseconds.
Once organizations recognize the power of big data analytics, its boundaries will rapidly expand. And with imagination it can not only transform the way business operates but also reshape the world we live in — which explains why big data has suddenly become such a big deal. ●
Jorge Titinger is president and CEO of SGI. Learn more about SGI Big Data Solutions at www.sgi.com/bigdata.
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Transitioning from corporate America to entrepreneurship takes determination and drive.
If you want to start a business but don’t know where to begin, you’re not alone. More Americans continue to leave the corporate world to start businesses.
A few years ago, I was a vice president at a Fortune 500 company, a divorcee and a single mom. As a child of divorce I was determined to make my relationship with my ex amicable, for the sake of my daughter. We had agreed on child support and would share my daughter’s other expenses.
I had no idea how difficult it would be to actually manage this arrangement. There was no platform available for parents to track, organize and manage child support and shared child expenses. In the U.S. alone there are more than 39 million parents struggling with this issue.
It was then that I decided to take an unforeseen turn in my life and created a startup — SupportPay by Ittavi, an automated child support payment platform built specifically for parents. As a founder of a thriving business, I’d like to offer some advice to budding entrepreneurs.
Don’t be blinded by a false sense of security
One of the first things I heard from others was, “Wow. It’s risky leaving the security of corporate America.” But there isn’t much security in corporate America either — you could lose your job at any moment for a number of reasons.
At least I’m in charge of the finances, the business plan and can control my schedule — the success of my company is in my hands.
Success doesn’t happen overnight
Every day you see stories of companies being bought for millions and valued for billions. The stories make it seem so easy — and quick. But in reality it takes time.
Fundraising is a full-time job — and takes much longer than anyone anticipates. If you remember you are running a marathon and not a sprint, adjusting to the demands of startup life become much more bearable.
Learn to separate work and home life
If you think you’ll have a better work/life balance after starting your own business … think again. It’s better to set boundaries from the start.
I shut down my computer at 6 p.m. every night and dedicate 6 to 9 p.m. to my daughter. Three hours of quality time every night is better than more hours of being partly present.
Never delegate unless you know what you want
Coming from a career in product management and marketing, I knew nothing about coding or product design. The first thing I did was learn the technologies so I could define what was desired and tell if outsourced work was quality and if time spent on it was realistic.
There isn’t room for a backup plan
You can’t go into the startup field thinking you can always go back to your old job. Learn from roadblocks and continue on — that’s one quality every entrepreneur must have. Remembering why you started this and remaining committed is the only way you will be successful.
The most important lesson to remember when starting your own company is that you are not alone. Network with other entrepreneurs, and never hesitate to ask for advice or an introduction to someone who can help.
Entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, but with a little drive, determination and passion, success is possible. ●
Sheri Atwood, founder of SupportPay by Ittavi, the first-ever automated child support payment platform, is a successful marketing and product executive with Fortune 500 experience. Atwood was named a “Top 40 Under 40 Executive in Silicon Valley” in 2009. For more information, visit www.supportpay.com.
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Myth: Women and men are equal in the workplace
We wish it were already true — but it’s not. Women top out at around 15 percent of leadership in almost every profession and the pay gap persists.
Studies show that progress has stalled for over a decade.
People think employers and the government can fix these problems. When we wait for top-down solutions, we overlook simple steps. Like ending the “Girl Scout Tax:” The cost of being too accommodating in the workplace. Research says that women are expected to look after others at work, if humanly possible. The good thing about this kind of tax: It’s in your power to give yourself a tax break. Practice saying “no” to requests that your male colleague would decline.
Myth: Men are more ambitious than women
Researchers find that women are at least as aggressive as men — but only when we are anonymous. We are less likely to say out loud that we want to be CEOs. The fear of being disliked is cultivated in women in a way it’s not in men. We are told, in one way or another, no one likes an ambitious woman.
Columbia psychologist Anna Fels says that’s another problem we can correct. Women who succeed get quiet nods of approval while men get roaring applause. We can each make things better in our personal lives by surrounding ourselves with men and women who embrace female success with the same vigor and excitement as the male kind.
Myth: When women become mothers, they don’t want to work as much
It’s a convenient refrain because it means no one is unhappy with the way things are — women are OK with giving up good jobs when they become mothers. The best way to toss this myth out for good is for those moms to succeed as great employees and as great parents.
We don’t tell men it’s their “choice” to work, that they can rely on someone else to make the money. Let’s tell women just what we tell men, that work is the way we build skills and create economic security. Striving for the best job we can get is healthy for all of us. Even mothers.
Myth: Children of stay-at-home mothers do better than the children of working moms
People assume that it must be better for kids if the mother stays home. Where are the studies showing that kids with working mothers do worse? Do they drop out of high school more frequently? Are they more likely to use drugs?
The largest research on child development says kids do equally well whether moms work or not. In fact, studies say that female employment leads to good things for kids — more involved dads see themselves as equal parents. In the U.S., more than 70 percent of people under 30 think marriage is best when both men and women have jobs and care for kids.
Myth: The more hours you work, the more successful you will be
Research from places like Harvard Business School increasingly shows this isn’t true. Focused, structured teamwork matters more than hours at your desk. We build better, more productive teams when women are half the room. And if we want more satisfied clients, employees and shareholders, we need to retain our stars — who are often working parents. ●
Sharon Meers is co-author of “Getting to 50/50,” now out in paperback. She is the current head of Magento Enterprise Strategy, part of eBay Inc. Meers is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs. For more information, visit www.gettingto5050.com.
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Supply chain events are increasingly showing up in business news, whether it’s regarding product shortages that cause customer dissatisfaction and lost opportunities for corporations, or breaches of laws or decency in the supply chain, such as the use of child labor or unsafe labor conditions that damage brand reputation.
From an executive standpoint, risk management through the supply chain has become a mandate. Front-page exposure can create tense boardroom discussions and dramatic same-day fluctuations in share prices.
What changed? With the global economy came global markets and global suppliers. Second, third and fourth tier suppliers are often in different parts of the world, subject to different regulations, and multi-channel or omni-channel strategies add complexity. Each new supplier, each tier of suppliers and each tier of customers add a heightened level of risk and thus an increased requirement for risk and compliance management.
Corporations are simply not ready for this challenge. So what actions should supply chain executives take?
- First, incorporate a risk assessment into the corporate supply chain strategy that again has been aligned with corporate goals, as well as customer goals. A corporation should start by making a detailed map of the supply chain and identify points of vulnerability. It should examine the viability of each supplier and transit route, and align with current and future customer requirements.
- Second, be proactive. A risk assessment not only identifies that there is a risk, it also reviews the severity of the risk and identifies contingency plans. For instance, having a single source supplier may be seen as a significant risk, but having two suppliers that have no spare capacity or cannot substitute for each other may be equally risky. Being proactive also means identifying early indicators that risk may in fact be turning into reality. Big data analysis and the ability to discern key indicators of future problems are important to getting a jump-start on fast resolution.
- Third, know the environment. Regulations influence almost every step in the supply chain and require real-time monitoring and auditing. Since regulations vary from country to country, a company with globally dispersed suppliers faces the herculean task of monitoring supplier compliance across multiple regulations.
- Fourth, think broadly of what constitutes the supply chain. Data integrity and availability are certainly part of the supply chain, as Apple realized recently when its servers overloaded with a release of a new operating system. Order sites, call centers, transportation networks, post-sales service and reverse logistics are part of the supply chain.
- Fifth, build a corporate culture that is attuned to risk responsiveness. For a high profile, public company, this means creating a culture of proactive risk management that extends to all stakeholders, internal and external. The board and CEO should communicate a clear message regarding the corporate policy on ethical issues.
Constant vigilance must be part of the corporate culture of risk detection and responsiveness. There will still be surprises, but early indicators and contingency plans will support fast mitigation. ●
Hannah Kain is the founder, president and CEO of ALOM, a leading global supply chain company headquartered in Fremont, Calif. For more information, visit www.alom.com.
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In a market as competitive as the Bay Area, companies need an edge when recruiting top talent. Pay grades, flexible schedules and vacation time are critical bargaining chips, of course, but one area that is often overlooked is employee engagement opportunities.
Research demonstrates that the new generation of employee is actually demanding social giving opportunities. They want to engage in their community and their world — and they expect their employer to not only be on board, but to provide the opportunity.
When companies view their volunteer programs as strategic assets and incorporate service into their business planning, they have a competitive advantage when it comes to engaging a younger workforce. A culture of volunteerism can help satisfy energetic millennials’ desire for stimulating and diverse work assignments and leadership opportunities, while responding to their desire to make a meaningful difference in society.
Improve your bottom line and your reputation
A volunteer program benefits more than employees, however; companies profit as well. Volunteerism helps employees build their leadership capabilities and expand their skill set. Think of it as free professional development for your staff as you groom your future leaders.
A report from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship found that there is a proven correlation between a corporate culture of volunteerism and increased employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity. In the end, these factors tangibly improve the company’s bottom line.
And if that wasn’t enough of a reason, there’s one final piece of the equation. A 2013 Deloitte survey found that 88 percent of companies who offered a corporate citizenship initiative that promoted volunteerism felt that their organizational reputation in the community was improved as well.
Talk about a sound return on investment.
Implementing a model
For small to midsize companies, offering in-house volunteer programs may be difficult with limited resources and competing priorities.
Fortunately, for Northern California companies, there are existing places where you can point your employees for volunteer opportunities. A sampling can be found online at www.californiavolunteers.org, www.volunteermatch.org or www.unitedwaysca.org/find.
The one essential change that needs to occur internally is the cultural shift toward supporting this effort. Your company may handle this in a variety of ways:
- Ask a staff member to organize a Saturday volunteer opportunity.
- Institute paid “volunteer time off” for employees — giving them one or two days in a year where they can volunteer with an organization and on a day of their choosing.
- Create time during staff meetings to acknowledge the volunteer efforts of employees and leadership who are serving as the face of your organization in the community.
Countless other ideas await, limited only by your creativity. Whichever volunteerism model you choose to create, know that your investment is one that you will see returns on for years to come. ●
Anne Wilson is chief executive officer of United Way of the Bay Area, a nonprofit organization committed to cutting Bay Area poverty in half by 2020. Wilson serves on the Advisory Board of the University of California Berkeley School of Social Welfare, the Advisory Council of Dominican University’s Brennan School of Business and the United Way Worldwide National Professional Service Council. She has been named one of The San Francisco Business Times’ annual “Most Influential Women” for the past nine years. For more information, visit www.uwba.org.
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Breakthrough ideas are typically the result of someone who was able to challenge conventional wisdom and think differently. Author Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates this in his newest book, “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.”
David’s victory over Goliath is widely accepted as a monumental victory for the underdog. David’s tactic of fighting from a distance with his sling changed the playing field.
Every industry has at least one, if not several, powerful companies with massive resources to win most any customer they decide to target. Is it possible that, like Goliath, they all have weaknesses that can be exploited? I believe this to be the case. But how can a smaller, less trained competitor be like David and turn the tables?
Change the field of battle
For years, the major auto companies have had the ability to build new electric vehicles, but they never focused on them because they didn’t believe the market would be large enough. As a result, they tried to modify their current vehicle platforms with hybrid or electric motors.
Yet in only a few short years, Tesla Motors has created a huge brand image and a market valuation that is already half that of Ford Motor Co. — even though Tesla’s current market share is less than 0.1 percent. The market currently values Tesla at $1 million per car, while General Motors Co. is valued at just more than $7,000!
Similar to David, Tesla refused to compete on GM and Ford’s terms and instead focused all its efforts on building the best electric cars available. Although sales are still small, Tesla has sold more electric cars than anyone else — despite its higher price tags.
Large companies sometimes ignore profitable opportunities
Large companies regularly dismiss new products and markets because these opportunities aren’t currently large enough to “move the needle,” or they may threaten to “cannibalize” their very profitable current businesses.
A classic example is Kodak. It didn’t pay attention to the introduction of the digital camera — mostly because early digital cameras weren’t very good. Yet this would not always be the case. Kodak decided to remain focused on its core film and camera business. In 2012, it declared bankruptcy and sold its valuable intellectual property.
Leverage the larger competitor’s assets against them
As successful companies grow, they make significant investments in plants, stores, technology platforms and other tangible and intangible assets. All these investments actually become barriers to change because they can tie a company’s success to certain ways of doing business with certain sets of customers.
In 1992, Fidelity dominated the IRA market. Fidelity and other major industry firms all charged about $22 per year to manage an IRA account. Charles Schwab was much smaller and decided to provide this service for free. Because Fidelity had so many accounts, it would have been very expensive for it to follow suit. As a result, Schwab added $2 billion in assets, and made money managing assets rather than by charging fees.
Similarly, Blockbuster had invested heavily in 3,400 brick-and-mortar stores by the time Netflix launched its DVD-by-mail service at a fixed monthly price. Blockbuster couldn’t create an alternative without cannibalizing its own store sales.
When we think about the large competitors that we all face, it’s difficult to not focus on their size and strength. However, if we view them as David saw Goliath, we can often find ways to topple them.
Paul Witkay is the founder and CEO of the Alliance of Chief Executives. Based in Northern California, the Alliance of CEOs is the most strategically valuable and innovative organization for leaders anywhere. The Alliance strives to provide the creative environments where breakthrough ideas happen. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re like most Americans, chances are that question has haunted you from adolescence to adulthood.
Which is a shame, because it’s a terrible question. It sends our vocational thinking down the wrong path — which might help explain why 70 percent of Americans are unhappy with their work, and why more than 2 million voluntarily quit their jobs each month, according to a recent Forbes article. And when you consider how much of our lives Americans dedicate to our jobs, being unhappy at work too often means being unhappy, period.
Clearly, we need to adopt a new way of looking at our own careers.
Discover your talent
Let’s begin with the basic fact that you, dear reader, are a genius. That doesn’t mean you’re the next Albert Einstein. You are a genius as the dictionary defines it: “Exceptionally creative or talented, either generally or in some particular respect.” That has to be true about you. You are a once-in-the-history-of-the-universe creation. You must be exceptionally talented in some particular respect. But in what respect, exactly?
That’s the question we ought to be posing to our children, and the one we should be asking ourselves. Not, “What job do you want to get?” but “What thing(s) are you really good at?” Not, “What do you want to be?” but, fundamentally, “What makes you you?”
Pursuing this introspective line of questioning is a soulful, exciting process that leads to greater peace, happiness and productivity.
The fearful may warn against indulging our individual exceptionalities because we have to pay the bills. There are only two ways to get rich in this life: winning the lottery (not too likely, alas) or delivering some unique value to the world. What more promising way to unearth unique value than via the particular respect in which you are exceptional?
I renewed this inquiry for myself not long ago, as I approached my 50th birthday. I am happier and more at peace for having done it — and I’m a better CEO, too. Because, just as the only way for a business to thrive is to differentiate itself from the pack, so too the only way we can thrive as business leaders is by understanding our own unique qualities. We can only produce the exceptional by understanding how we are exceptional.
So, here’s my challenge to you: Set aside the time to purposefully and deliberately explore what makes you exceptional. You won’t just be charting your course to personal fulfillment; you’ll be paving the way for creating value in the world. If you are unsure how to begin, pick up a copy of Todd Henry’s book, “Die Empty,” and do the exercises that resonate with you.
Unveil the new you
The New Year sparks the same desire in many of us: Be better, be different, be great. Instead of adopting a litany of resolutions designed to create a “new you,” resolve to reflect on the exceptional you that has existed all along. After a lifetime of striving to become what you think you’re supposed to be, let this be the year you define and celebrate the genius you naturally are.
Ask yourself the right questions:
- What am I good at?
- What makes me special?
- What makes me happy?
Finding those answers — and living them — are the only resolutions you’ll ever need.
Jerry McLaughlin is CEO of Branders.com, the world’s largest and lowest-priced online promotional products company. He can be reached at JerryMcLaughlin@branders.com.