The Most Rewarding Thing (For Me) As An Entrepreneur

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Freedom?  Nope.

It’s awesome, but as every entrepreneur knows, before you can really experience life freedom you often have to put in a significant amount of time – usually much more time than you would have otherwise invested if you were just an employee of your business.

Not having a boss? Nope.

Don’t get me wrong,  I hate having a “boss”.  The idea of an annoying “boss” or “office manager” trolling around, micro-managing you, and always on your case, is cliché at this point, but unfortunately those types exist.  Not having a boss is wonderful, but’s it’s not the most rewarding thing.

Money?  Nope

I’m not that money driven.  Unlike other entrepreneurs (and I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this) I don’t dream of a yacht, a Ferrari, or a 20,000 square foot mansion.  I’m not hoarding up “stuff” to fill a void in my soul (and I’m not saying that people who chase these things necessarily are as well).  People are motivated by different things.  All I’m saying is that the perpetual acquisition of material things, and “symbols” of success doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not into it.  In our businesses, after we had enough money to be able to do what we wanted to do all day long, and travel whenever we wanted to, I found that I wasn’t motivated just for the sole sake of making more money. There had to be something else (see below) to keep me pushing.  So money is not the most rewarding thing for me as an entrepreneur.

So what is it (for me)?

For me, without a doubt, 100% certain, the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur, the thing that gets me up excited each day, and pushes me to work into the night, is the chance to witness the act of creation.  I LOVE (caps intentional) seeing something that didn’t previously exist come to life because of my work.   I LOVE taking ideas and making them real.  

Yesterday I was on a walk with my dog and my son Cohen.  For some reason I started to think about the things in my life and business that didn’t exist one year ago, and have been created alone in the last year.

I came up with a list:

  • A book, now in bookstores with signing events, that literally didn’t exist (other than in the form of a word document) one year ago;
  • Multiple public speaking engagements and opportunities including an upcoming TEDx talk in Kelowna on September 26th;
  • Consulting opportunities that have brought me into contact with many new and interesting people and companies;
  • A newly launched website and re-branding strategy for our business;
  • Growth in our business including several hundred new people joining our organization;

All in the past year.  Then my mind started racing about what I can create this next year.  I took out a pen a started to write down lots of cool ideas.  Stay tuned!

What are you going to create this next year?  Have fun with it!

Taking an idea, and making it real (in my opinion) is one of the most rewarding things you can do! 

Three New Book Signing Dates Confirmed For Unsuited

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I’m excited to announce that I have confirmed three new book signing dates for my book Unsuited:

Calgary Chinook Center Chapters / Indigo (6455 Macleod Trail)

Saturday September 20th from 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm.

 

Calgary Chapters / Indigo Downtown (317-7th Ave. SW)

Thursday October 16th from 11:00am to 2:00 pm.

 

Calgary Shelf Life Books (4th. St. & 13th. Ave. SW)

 Tuesday November 4th from 7:30pm to 9:00pm

 

If you are in the area I’d love to see you!

 

 

What Part Of Your Work Makes Your Heart Sing?

 

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I think part of my subconscious has always wanted to be an entertainer – a singer, maybe even a rockstar.  There’s only one (major) problem: I can’t sing.  Despite what my Mom told me growing up, my voice is no good (although I do appreciate the unconditional love anyway mom!).

It has nothing to do with the fame, money, etc that comes with being a rockstar.  I’ve always been intrigued at the way musicians lose themselves in their music, and how, when a great musician is performing, they seem to be a perfect example of the power of flow – when a person’s whole self, mind, body, everything, is connected to a unified purpose.  I find that really inspiring.

I also really love when a musician sings from their heart.  It moves me when I hear a singer perform a song that is personally meaningful – when you can hear their heart and soul coming through the music and the lyrics.  This is what makes some entertainers great.  The older I get, the more I am finding myself gravitate to musicians with substance – musicians who use music to tell stories.

You can actually FEEL the music. It is much more than an auditory experience, it is an emotional experience.

You hear their heart sing

While I know that I will never be a rock star (in a conventional sense), I have discovered that I can emulate this emotional conveyance.

I can be a rock star in my work, and I can consistently share what makes my heart sing.

What do I mean by “makes my heart sing”?

It definitely captures passion, but I think it goes a little beyond.  It covers the most meaningful parts of who you are as an individual.  You could say that it comprises part (or the whole of) your life’s purpose.  It is why you are here.  It is what distinguishes you from every other person on this earth. It encompasses your unique talents and gifts and combines them with how you want to contribute to the world. It excites you. It gets you going.  It is the first thing that pops into your head when you are asked:

What do you love about your work? 

I believe that if there is nothing in your current work that makes your heart sing, then you are in the wrong line of work.  You need to change, as quickly as possible, and stop telling yourself stories that keep you stuck.  Change now.

But the reality is that an extreme change isn’t likely for most people.  Most people have at least one thing about their work that makes their heart sing.  What is it for you?

I am a writer, entrepreneur, public speaker and marketing consultant.  Here is what makes my heart sing in my work:

  • Being unconventional, in my career, and helping others to do the same.  Resisting the ways that “things have always been done” and creating my own design.  Being authentic in everything I do;
  • When people tell me that I can’t do something (or I don’t have the experience or knowledge) – going out and actually doing the exact thing that I’m told I can’t;
  • Being so caught up in my work – so in flow – that time disappears, and before I know it the day has passed and I’ve been completely absorbed by the moment;
  • Setting massive goals in my business (goals that are audacious and ridiculous) and then sprinting to get them;
  • Hitting flow, while writing, and then having someone contact me and tell me that something that I wrote helped them to achieve an empowering mindset, overcome a fear, or accomplish a goal;
  • Establishing lines of passive income through my businesses thereby freeing myself from the “time equals money” trap that captures so many;
  • Hitting flow while giving a public speech, talk or workshop and really connecting with the audience. Conveying information to them that adds real value to their life, or business, and being able to talk about this information, one-on-one, with them in the future;
  • Recognizing people within our organization for their achievements and seeing their face light up and beam with positivity – watching someone’s emotional state change;
  • Researching marketing methods and business systems, learning new ways to do what I do better;
  • Conducting life and business experiments – taking a method that I learn, applying it to my business, and seeing the results I get.  If I find that it works then sharing the method with other people;
  • Designing creative marketing initiatives to spread our business worldwide;
  • Online marketing – the Internet makes my heart sing. I love designing ways to spread our business online;
  • Building systems in our business (again to free my time to do the things that I love);
  • Analyzing the inner workings of our business, “taking apart the motor” and “cleaning it”.  Constant refinements and improvements to make what I do great;
  • Coaching someone to design a marketing plan that gets them real results;
  • Building a strategic marketing or brand plan for someone – especially one that is unconventional, authentic (and perhaps even a little bit vulnerable);
  • Helping other people to do work that really matters to them;
  • Really connecting with people, learning their stories, and being inspired by them;
  • Sharing my story in a way that inspires someone else to step outside of the conventional path, and attempt to do something unique;
  • Taking risks in our business, my writing, my speaking (and in the process doing things that scare me) – swinging for the fence and attempting a home run.  Dreaming massive dreams and then fighting with all I have to get them;
  • Freeing myself from societies reward system. Hitting intrinsic flow. Finding enjoyment in the day to day aspects of what I do thereby creating the most powerful freedom of all – the freedom of the mind.

Holy cow – I’m fired up now!  Time to get to work.

Stories: They Connect, Inspire, And Empower Us

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I often think about what it means to be human, and what captures the essence of the “human experience”.  We are animals after all, and many times I have looked at the rest of the animal world and thought about what makes the human experience different.

We have a puppy.  His name is JoJo.  He is loving, kind and loyal.  He sits at the foot of my chair when I write (in fact he’s there right now.

JoJo

He exhibits many traits that I admire in a human.  JoJo can also communicate, in his own special way, but his communications are generally limited to basic needs: I’m hungry; I need to get outside to pee; I want to play with this ball; Please get off my tail that hurts (this message is usually given to Seth, our 6 year old). I believe that JoJo actually thinks he’s human, and sometimes at dinner he will hop up on the sixth chair at our table (we have 5 people in our family), without the slightest hesitation.  He knows he’s part of the family, so that makes sense to him right?

But JoJo isn’t human, he’s a dog.  Among other things (not having thumbs being one) JoJo can’t tell stories.  I know nothing about his perspective, or his memories.  He can’t communicate these.  He can’t tell me stories about the adventures that he takes in the house when we leave (these I would love to know), or which one of the dogs in the dog park is his best friend (and which ones bug him).

I have come to realize that stories have a powerful place in our life, and without our realizing it may actually be the most important factor in making connections with, and being inspired by, others.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my office surrounded by books.  I have hundreds of them.  When I look at these books I realize that the most powerful books – the books that have had the most profound impact on me – are the books where I read a story, and I’m not just referring to fiction (although a good fiction story is fantastic).  I’m mostly referring to the non-fiction books where I was able to relate to the author because of a story – either about their life, or the life of someone else. The best speakers I have ever heard are the best because they told the best stories, and out of the hundreds of public speeches I’ve listened to, the only ones that I can remember, are the ones where I can recall a story.

I have come to realize that advice, however sincerely given, ultimately fails in its delivery, and effectiveness, if it can’t be taught through a story – either a story directly by the giver of the advice, or the giver acting as storyteller for someone else.  The latter can be very powerful, especially in circumstances where the hero of the story is limited in their ability to tell the story on their own.

I’m inspired by stories.  You are inspired by stories – and any time we give inspiration to another person it is because of OUR story. It is because they have learned about our story and this touches them in some way. 

Stories weave the fabric of family and cultural history.

Stories make us want to be patriotic.

Stories make us want to be charitable.

Stories make us want to be courageous and take risks.

Stories motivate us to go after challenging goals of our own.

Stories influence us to develop our character.

Stories are the basis of our connection with each other.

One of things that we are implementing in our business is to tell the stories of the many people who have been involved.  People who know us also know our story.  We have been quite public about telling it – a stay at home mom, and a discontented lawyer, wanting a better life – one that gave more happiness and freedom.  So we started a home based business.  We worked our butts off, the business went viral, and were able to find success, freedom and empowerment (including me quitting my job as a lawyer in the process).

But what people don’t realize is that behind our story are thousands of individual stories, equally as compelling and empowering as ours.  These people comprise the team that we’ve built in our business. Their stories need to be heard as well, so to celebrate them, we’ve created a new page in our business blog called “Empowering Stories” where we will be featuring the many people who are part of our story.

Behind every great story, there is another story that is also great, if you are willing to take the time to learn it.

Behind every well known business leader there are hundreds of empowering stories – these stories, and these people, have the same right to be heard as the heralded leaders. 

We live in a culture where the “cult of personality” is prevalent.  We honour people for their achievements, and deservedly so.  But let us never forget that one person’s story is not possible without the stories of those that surround them.  I believe that the world would be a much happier and better place if we all took the time to look around, find someone who has a story, ideally someone not in the “spotlight” and take the time to learn about their story.  You will be amazed how much this will inspire and motivate you, while giving a voice to others.

Have You Ever Been Infected By An Idea? I Have. Twice.

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Have you ever been infected by an idea?

Have you ever had an idea take hold of you, and imprint itself so strongly in your mind that you can’t even function unless you are taking action on it?

It consumes you, to the point of obsession, and you only feel at peace if you are moving towards it.  It you aren’t taking action on it you feel a void, and restlessness inside.

It’s like a virus. It consumes you.  It changes you from the inside out, and later spits out an entirely different person.

I believe when the idea is positive, and you take action on it, the person that you become is the person that you were always meant to be, and the idea is simply our becoming what is our inner core, especially when the circumstances of our life has caused us to deviate from that purpose.

My favourite story about an “idea infection” is the one that the musician Sting recently told, concerning his life, at TED.  You can find the whole talk here, and I’d highly recommend you listening to his version of the story (starting at minute 12).  Because the authentic version is so good, I won’t attempt a paraphrase.  But I will give one hint:  it’s an event that occurred in his life as a boy involving the building of a ship, the Queen Mother, a Black Rolls Royce, and a resulting idea that infected him so strongly that it dictated the rest of his life.

I’ve been infected by an idea. Twice. Both very real.  Both of which I’m utterly driven to take action on.

The first happened when I was 20 years old.  It was 1999 and I was living in Utah.  A random series of events occurred and, strangely enough, I found myself at the home of Stephen R. Covey, chatting with him in his living room.  I had no idea who Mr. Covey was at the time.  Nor did I know that he was a famous writer, speaker and leadership expert.  I knew nothing about the 7 Habits, or his Franklin Covey leadership consulting firm.  He seemed like a friendly gentleman, and we were engaging in small talk.  I asked him what he did.  I’ll never forget his answer,

I write books that help people live the best life that they can

I didn’t engage him much about his career after that.  I didn’t ask what books he wrote. He was pleasant for the remainder of the 10 minutes I was at his house and then I left.

But the idea never left me.  It has never left me to this day.  It has only grown stronger inside of me.

At the time I thought that I was going to go into medicine.  I distinctly remember leaving his house thinking:

Really?? He does that? That’s incredible.  I didn’t realize you could get paid to do that! 

But an even more radical idea took hold of me that day as well.

One day, I want to do that as well.

That idea never left me.  It has been inside of me ever since, and even though my career took an 8 year detour (3 years of law school and 5 more in legal practice) eventually the infection took hold and I found myself compelled to write.  My first book is done, in print, and being sold and I’m 122 pages into my second book (which I hope to release next year).  Both of them are about empowerment, and helping people to live the best life they can. I can’t stop myself from writing every single day.  The infection has taken hold of me.

The second came a little over 5 years ago.  I was practising law, and quite unhappy.  I hated the fact that my time and my money were connected, and the only way that I could make more money was to spend more time doing legal files.

I became consumed with an idea:

There has to be a way to free my time up. I don’t accept that this is my life. There has to be a way to make money without having to be at work all day long.  

The idea became an obsession. I thought about it every single day.  Dozens of times a day.   Then I stumbled across a book - The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.  At about the same time my wife got interested in a new product coming to Canada from the US – Scentsy.  She joined as a consultant, and several months later I realized that this simple little product was the answer to my obsession.  It would be the way that we freed ourselves. It would be the passive income that we wanted.  We poured our heart and soul into it, and in less than three years from the time that I read that book we were making substantially more in this side business than I was in law and in 2012 I quit law.  Since that time our business has gone global, expanded even more substantially, and has created a real freedom that was only merely a dream 5 years ago.

All I can say, from my experience with the “idea infection” is that when it takes hold of you the best thing that you can do is to accept it.  Better yet, embrace it.  It is there for a reason.  You can’t let go of it for a reason.  I think that it has something to do with your higher purpose in life.  My life is a million times better right now because I yielded to the infection.  I didn’t fight it. I embraced it.  I took action on it. Now I feel that my life is purposefully driven.

All of us will be infected by different ideas.  When your infection comes.  Embrace it. 

 

 

The 8 Books That Changed My Life

I’m an avid reader.  Without exaggeration I easily read 3-4 books a month.  It’s a habit I’ve had for years, and one that I am very grateful for.

Not all books are equal, and a few of them have impacted me so much that I have to share them.

Without reservation I can say that these 8 books have absolutely changed my life for the better. Read them, but more importantly, do what they tell you.  It is your acting not just your reading that will get you the best results.

1. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

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This is the most important book I’ve ever read in terms of helping me to consistently work through my “inner resistance”. This book, more than any other book, has helped me to build successful businesses, write a book (and continue to write every single day) and create an authentic and fulfilling career path for myself.  In my opinion, this book is a must read if you are an entrepreneur, writer, artist, or any form of “creator”.

2. Turning Pro – by Steven Pressfield

Turning Pro

The follow up to The War of Art .  In The War of Art Pressfield identifies the enemy to living an authentic life – resistance.  In Turning Pro, Pressfield teaches you how to defeat it and develop the “lunch pail” mentality that all masters and pros possess.  You can’t get through this book without wanting to make profound changes to your habits and the way you look at life.  This book will make you a stone cold pro, in whatever endeavour in life you are pursuing.

3. Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience – by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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What are the optimal experiences in our life?  The vacations?  Laying on the beach?  No.  World renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in this landmark book proves that optimal experience is actually the moments in our life when we are giving our very best in pursuit of self-directed meaningful goals.  Through this book I learned how to channel flow, and my life was never the same.

4. As a Man Thinketh – by James Allen

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Thoughts are things. We are what we repeatedly think about.  Through this book I learned to first create in my mind the life that I want, then manifest its reality through my hard work and actions.  A classic – short, simple and powerful.

5. The Compound Effect - by Darren Hardy

 

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No gimmicks. No Hyperbole. No Magic Bullet.  Success is simply the product of the compounding effect of the small and simple actions that we take each day.  Once I figured out this lesson my entire life changed.  Now I structure every single day to ensure that I am taking small, and consistent actions, towards the goals that I value most.

6. The Alchemist – by Paulo Coelho

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An easy to read, highly descriptive story that teaches a powerful concept:  follow the road to your authentic “destiny” .  Learn the obstacles that will arise, and learn how to channel your courage on the path of what you value most.

7. Awaken The Giant Within – by Anthony Robbins

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Don’t let the TV infomercials, and the big teeth fool you – this book has high quality strategies that are immediately applicable to gain control of your emotional self.  When you can control the inner, the outer quickly follows.  Get leverage on yourself by reading this book and applying the strategies you learn.

8.  7 Habits Of Highly Effective People – by Stephen R. Covey

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A practical masterpiece with easy to follow instructions and guides.  Useful for both businesses and individuals.  Learn to “put first things first” and “begin with the end in mind”.  This book is a classic in management and leadership literature, and should be mandatory reading for anyone who is in a position of influence.

 

Here’s The Truth About Getting Inspiration – And How It Really Works

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Over the last two years I have personally channeled a period of creativity and inspiration far surpassing anything that I had ever previously experienced.

I have published a book on career planning which is now selling well both online and in retail bookstores. I have written 115 pages in my second book (target release late 2015), and I’m 150 pages into an e-book which I will publish later this year. I’ve written well over 300 original blog posts on topics relating to entrepreneurialism, personal empowerment, and marketing, have published many more outside of my blog, and devised hundreds of new marketing strategies and plans for the various businesses that I’m involved in as principal, or consultant to.

I credit this inspirational bounty to a strategy that I learned from Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art. A strategy that I now successfully employ every day, and one that has utterly changed my life, and created a personally unprecedented level of production and creativity.

So how does one get personal inspiration to create something?

We are all creators, in some form. Being a creator isn’t reserved for the artists, musicians, and writers among us. If you have a business them you are a creator – you have to create ways to market your business. You have to create systems and structures to make your business run smoothly. If you have a job, you’re still a creator. You have to use your mind at some point and create something that didn’t previously exist. If you are a creator, then you need inspiration. You need ideas.

Where do ideas come from? When I finally grasped the truth, it hit me like an avalanche:

Ideas have far more to do with your Ass, than they do your mind or your heart.

What am I getting at?

I’ll use my writing as an example. At a recent book signing for my book Unsuited, I had someone, who follows my blog ask me how I am always coming up with new ideas – how do I blog so often? Where do the ideas come from? Here is my answer:

Ideas come from sitting down.

What does that mean?

It means that commitment to follow a course of action is far more important than anything else. I believe that the Muse is real, and I have been inspired, out of left field many times, to write about something, or create a marketing campaign, based on an idea that wasn’t in my mental atmosphere. But the ideas always come when I’m already in the process of working.

Here is a quote from W. Somerset Maugham that perfectly articulates my point:

I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.

Let me use a very specific example. Two years ago, based on the advice of Pressfield (The War of Art), Stephen King (in his book “On Writing“) and Seth Godin (from one of his blog posts), I decided that the only way to become a writer was literally to write. I decided that I was going to write 500 words a day, no matter what. It could be in the form of a blog post, a book, an article, an essay to myself – heck it could be random musings that no one would ever read – but I would still get it done. I have kept that commitment every day.

In the process of meeting my quota I have been touched by the Muse many times. Many times the Muse has whispered in my ear telling me to pursue an idea that I wasn’t previously thinking about, but the Muse always seems to appear, in my case, while I am already doing my work. It’s like I have to prove to her my commitment first. I have to prove that I’m for real, that I’m going to grind out these 500 words before she’ll touch me with inspiration, and many times that inspiration comes 200 words in. Often those first 200 words are garbage, and I end up getting rid of them, but after the inspiration touches me I hit flow and my work is good.

Inspiration never seems to touch me until after I have shown my commitment to complete a specific course of work.

I joke with my wife about this all the time. I tell her that the bells of the apocalypse could be ringing and I’m still going to churn out these 500 words. The city could be in ruins, the marauding invaders are breeching the walls, if I’m at 450 words, I’m not moving until 500 are done.

My ass is far more important, when seeking inspiration, than my mind or my heart.

This is the secret to getting inspiration on a constant basis: When you have this type of mindset, and commitment, inspiration comes to you, but it comes to you in the course of you doing your work.

So when someone tells me they are having a hard time coming up with ideas – ideas for a business, ideas for a marketing plan, ideas for writing, ideas for creating anything – anything at all – I believe that they aren’t committed.

They are dabblers. Inspiration and ideas always come to those who are committed. The following lines from Goethe are as true today as when he first said them:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

That is the secret. There is no other secret. If you want to trigger an unprecedented period of personal productivity and creativity you have to first definitely commit to a course of action, and actually execute that course of action, every day for a sustained period of time.

So if you want to build a business but you aren’t sure how to market your idea, you have work on marketing every single day for a couple of hours. It doesn’t matter if Alien spaceships are hovering over your house, you stay on that phone, you stay at that computer, you stay at your task until you’re done. If you do that for an extended period of time I guarantee you’ll have creativity.

You fancy yourself a writer? Or Artist? I dare you to hit a quota every single day. Even if you throw away the draft and never let anyone read it. Every single day, even if the nuclear bombs are going off in your peripheral view, you sit down, and do not move until your 500 words are done.

When you do this, you are signalling to the universe that “you are for real” and when you do that, the Muse smiles in your favor, and directs your paths in ways that you wouldn’t have initially discovered or pursued.