If Life is hard, it is especially challenging for rugged individualists.  

Rugged individualism, derived from “individualism”, is a term that indicates the virtuous ideal where an individual is totally self-reliant and independent from outside assistance.

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I was a proud rugged individualist through school, into my first corporate job, and into my first 2 entrepreneurial ventures. 

In 2006 I came across Entrepreneurs Organisation (or better, they came across me…) and I began to change.  I learnt that you can make much wiser decisions when you allow others to guide you with their experiences and their questions.

I have had many mentors in these last 12 years.  I have been asked to be the mentor to others.  I feel underprepared to be a mentor.  David Cohen, founder of TechStars, wrote about the lessons he has learnt over 11 years of day to day experience in identifying great mentors for the entrepreneurs that form part of TechStars.

The Mentor Manifesto

Here is David’s mentor manifesto (full text on his blog: The Mentor Manifesto)

  • Be socratic.
  • Expect nothing in return (you’ll be delighted with what you do get back).
  • Be authentic / practice what you preach.
  • Be direct. Tell the truth, however hard.
  • Listen too.
  • The best mentor relationships eventually become two-way.
  • Be responsive.
  • Adopt at least one company every single year. Experience counts.
  • Clearly separate opinion from fact.
  • Hold information in confidence.
  • Clearly commit to mentor or do not. Either is fine.
  • Know what you don’t know. Say I don’t know when you don’t know. “I don’t know” is preferable to bravado.
  • Guide, don’t control. Teams must make their own decisions. Guide but never tell them what to do. Understand that it’s their company, not yours.
  • Accept and communicate with other mentors that get involved.
  • Be optimistic.
  • Provide specific actionable advice, don’t be vague.
  • Be challenging/robust but never destructive.
  • Have empathy. Remember that startups are hard.

If you liked this post on mentorship, you will also like How to be a good mentor and What is Mentorship?

Are you a Business Leader?

I’ve been part of Entrepreneurs’ Organisation for the last 10 years and for almost any significant decision I have taken in the last decade, there are 9 people in my forum group who have helped me take a better decision.  I would share with them:

  1. the background to the decision
  2. the why of the decision
  3. what I’m seeking to achieve in my life

There is no major decision I’ve taken in the last 10 years that has not had at least those other 9 wise brains also looking at it.  They are also giving me different perspectives, helping me think through:

  1. Who I am
  2. What what my strengths are
  3. What my company strengths are and
  4. How I can better play into the opportunities that I have

My question to you: “how many brains do you get involved in the big decisions you have to make?”

If it is just one brain (your own) then you are really going to struggle over your life as a business leader.   Join Vistage, join EO, join Young Presidents’ Organization…  Get into a peer group where others can give you multiple different perspectives, different ideas, different experiences that have worked for them in the past.

Get as many brains as you can to help you take important decisions, to help you think through the problems you face, to see how to seize (or say no to) the opportunities coming into your life.

Get access to brains to share your problems. Ask lots of questions and get as much coming back from other’s life experiences as you can.

There is a saying: “if you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room.” 

Are you the smartest in the room?  If you find that you are often the smartest person in the room, you’ve got to expand your network.  Get out of that room and get yourself onto a bigger playing field.

Peer Group Organisations

 

 

This is a wonderful 10 minute speech by Brian Brault, Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, during a United Nations Global meeting on how Entrepreneurship can make a difference to the UN Developmental Goals.

Creating a Shared Future for Entrepreneurs and Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

I have met Brian several times over the last 13 years that I have been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation. He is an inspiration and I am glad that he had this opportunity to share such an important message to the world’s ambassadors and governments.

I am proud to say that Brian attended my classes (during EO’s Global Leadership Academy) on how to give a persuasive speech 😉

Thanks, Brian, for your time and dedication as a leader of EO.

This video is about Leadership development. I find that leaders worry about the training for those around them… but who worries about the training for the leaders?

What should Leaders be Learning?

The 7 Key Skills of a Successful Business Leader

At Vistage, we believe there are 8 major areas that Leaders need to be working on:

  1. Inspiring a Shared Vision
  2. Leading and Letting Others Manage
  3. Knowing your Numbers
  4. Attracting and Retaining the Right People
  5. Creating and Retaining Customer Loyalty
  6. Watching Emerging Trends, Risks and Opportunities
  7. Taking Care of Yourself

Where can you Find Inspiring Leaders in Continuing Development?

This is a guest post from April Abboud.

April Abboud is a successful American entrepreneur who has moved to the Middle East.  She gave up the business she grew, the culture she knew and having family close by to start a family in a land thousands of miles away.  She has chosen to challenge herself all through her life.

April was recently asked to be the Moderator and Welcoming Speaker for the regional Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.  She shared a powerful story about the need for each of us to face difficulties in our lives:

The Regional Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

The Man who Helped the Butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.

It stopped moving. It seemed to have stopped making progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

The man decided to help. He took a pair of scissors and cut off the remaining cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily.

The butterfly had a sluggish, swollen body and small, shriveled wings.  The man continued to watch the butterfly.  He waited for the wings to grow and expand to be able to support the body.  He waited for the body to shrink to the beautiful proportions of a butterfly.

He waited.  Neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

The butterfly never was able to fly.

The Universe is Wise

The man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand nature.  The restricting cocoon and the struggle is necessary.  As the butterfly squeezes through the tiny opening, fluid from the body is forced into its wings.  This long, tiring, intense struggle for escape is necessary for the butterfly to fly once it fights its way to freedom from the closed cocoon.

This is not only the nature of butterflies.  It is the nature of life.  It is our nature.  If we do not have adversity and strife on our journey we cannot carry the weight that our dreams require of us. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them in a way that they could never go back to the person they once were. Some understand this difficulty for what it really is:  Growth.

As an entrepreneur, I have often made the choice to travel the road less taken, one filled with uncertainty and fear.  I dare to make the world a better place and somehow along the way find the courage to believe in my wings and let myself fly.

We must give ourselves permission to accept the struggles, for in them we find our true original, authentic self.

To those who crawl around swollen with desire we become leaders. Fierce are those with restrictions, strengthened by their journey, that not only find their wings but take to flight.

Follow April…

You can follow April on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/aprilabboud/

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Overlooking the White House

I was in Washington DC the last 6 days teaching on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Leadership Academy 2016.  We had 28 leaders from all around the world – China, Nepal, Mexico, India, Pakistan, Canada, Germany, Australia, USA, UK.  The White House was being prepared for the inauguration of the next US President.

Christophe Magnussen is an inspiring entrepreneur from Germany. We made a short video up on the roof of our hotel, overlooking the winter evening sky of Washington DC.

Interview with Christoph Magnussen

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: Interview with Christoph Magnussen

Christoph has some great tips on entrepreneurship and productivity over on his youtube channel.  I like the work he puts in to making the videos engaging and fast moving.

The Key to a Killer Keynote Talk

Here, Christoph took some time with another Leadership Academy attendee, Rich Mulholland from South Africa to discuss how to become a better keynote speaker:

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: Interview Rich Mulholland

Don’t waste time in meetings

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: Don’t waste time in meetings

If you can’t sell, you can’t lead

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: If you can’t sell, you can’t lead

How to effective work Remotely

If you are seeing this by email, here is the video: How to effective work Remotely

This week I attended an Entrepreneurs Organisation learning event led by long time EO member Ridgely Goldsborough on the subject of “Know your WHY“.

Here’s a picture of EO Barcelona Learning Chairman Toni Mascaro welcoming over 100 entrepreneurs to the event.

Disengagement: The “Quit and Stayed” Employee

I recently posted about the 4 paths of our working lives – and one path is Quit and Stayed.  These category of people are those who have emotionally given up on their jobs, but they still keep sending their body in to sit at the desk and collect a salary.

Ridgely shared statistics on the impact of disengaged employees on a company.

  • An indifferent employee costs you $2,246 per year according to Gallup. An actively disengaged employee costs you more than $25,000.
  • 33% of American employees change jobs every year.  90% leave jobs for reasons to do with “attitude“, not skills.
  • Recruiting expert Brad Smart (author of Topgrading) shares evidence that 1 bad hire costs a company 5 times their salary (and 10-15 times for senior hires)

Apart from the financial cost, there is a painful emotional cost for all those who must work in close proximity to this disengaged individual – they suck your passion.  I know that the best way to increase team performance is to remove the disengaged team members.

Achieving Engagement

According to the AONHewitt definition, engaged employees want to:

  1. Stay (intent to stay with the organisation)
  2. Say (speak highly of the organisation to others) and
  3. Strive (make an discretionary effort to deliver results)
Ridgely presenting the benefits of Engaged Employees
Ridgely presenting the benefits of Engaged Employees

Ridgely shared that engaged employees deliver:

  • 37% less absenteeism and turnover
  • 48% fewer safety accidents
  • 41% fewer safety defects
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

How do we Achieve a Culture of Engagement?

Ridgely explained that people are different and seek to express themselves in different ways. If we try to be everything for everybody, we end up frustrated and wasting our time.

Do you understand the different personalities of the people that you work with?  I have done so many psychological tests that I assume that everyone knows these tools (I studied psychology at university…).  When I was 14, my father brought home a Myers-Briggs test and did it on all of the family.

About me…

What about you?  What are you?  What types do you get frustrated by?

The Why types

Ridgely worked through a short coaching process where each participant was able to identify their primary “why” from a list of 9 “Whys”. The 9 whys are:

  1. Contribute
  2. Trust
  3. Make Sense
  4. Better Way
  5. Right Way
  6. Challenge
  7. Master
  8. Clarify
  9. Simplify

By the way, I came out as a 7 – Master.  My “why” is to seek mastery and understanding above all else.

Infographic: Employee Engagement

One of the challenges of important life lessons is that we need to be reminded every day.  Now that I have just written a blog post about how people are different, I am primed to not over-react when I meet someone who is a “5 – Right Way” and has a constant focus on what the precedent is, what is proven, what is low risk… all perspectives that I find tiring.  However, tomorrow I will forget and will overreact again.

What can company leaders do to create a culture where we actively seek to empathise with each person’s primary purpose?

I found an infographic that describes the problem of employee disengagement and 6 things that CEOs can do to create engaged employees.  Click on the infographic to get a large version.  (Personally, I think that the yellow colour scheme is a bit aggressive):

Employee-Engagement.jpg
Employee Engagement on a page

 

  1. Inspire employees through purpose
  2. Align employees behind your strategy
  3. Develop line managers
  4. Be Fair (in process, in resource distribution, in relationships)
  5. Role Model
  6. Measure And Set Engagement Goals

Read in more detail at the business2business blog.

 

How Engaged are You?

What do you think?  Is your workplace engaged?  Are leaders actively creating engagement?

Global Entrepreneurship Week

It is Global Entrepreneurship Week on 18 November through 23 November.  There are events all over the world.  The overall organisation website is: www.unleashingideas.org. You can find out more following twitter hashtags #GEW, #GEWSpain, #IESEGEW.  There will be plenty of events in your city led by Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, The Kauffman Foundation and many more local entrepreneurship groups.  Get involved!

Here is a post inspired by the Global Entrepreneurship Week.  What questions must you ask of yourself and your idea before moving into execution?

The 12 Vital Questions for Any New Business

Are you an entrepreneur?  Are you a corporate leader?  Do you have an idea and have thought about turning it into a business?  Here is a list of 12 questions that you must answer (and why):

  1. Why do we exist? (purpose)
  2. What is our aspiration (vision)
  3. Exactly what problem will this solve? (value proposition)
  4. For whom do we solve that problem? (target segment)
  5. How big is the opportunity? (market size)
  6. What alternatives are out there? (competitive landscape)
  7. Why are we best suited to pursue this? (our differentiator)
  8. Why now? (market window)
  9. How will we get this solution to market? (go-to-market strategy)
  10. How will we measure success? (KPIs)
  11. What factors are critical to success? (CSFs)
  12. Can we succeed – is this viable and sustainable? (go or no-go)

This comes from Ramanathan’s answer to What should you do as an Entrepreneur if you have no background in business over at Quora.

Pitching Your Idea

As a bonus, once you’ve got those 12 answers cracked… you now need to be able to share the answers in a way that others can get excited, get involved and make it happen with you.  You need to pitch.

What is the best pitch:

“The best pitch decks don’t feel like they were created for the benefit of venture capitalists. They feel like an outgrowth of the work the startup is already doing.” Michael Wolfe

Pablo Villalba pitching Teambox
Pablo Villalba pitching Teambox

The best pitch decks portray:

  • This is what we are doing.
  • This is how we are going to do it.
  • We can do it better if we get some money in.
  • This thing is going to happen with or without you.
  • Are you in or are you out?

That comes from Michael Wolfe’s answer to What should be in a Pitch Deck also at Quora.

Further Reading