Success – Don’t Have a Plan!

21 Questions for 21 Millionairs
21 Questions for 21 millionaires

A few days past, I reconnected with a colleague from a previous job.  We had brunch at Snooze.  As an aside, Snooze is printing money right now – they are so busy.  We scheduled our meeting for 10:00 AM on a Wednesday – there was a 30 minute wait.  Snooze has a great product and a wonderful atmosphere – their success is no surprise.

Anyway, Snooze is not the topic of this blog.  Brandon wrote a really interesting book entitled 21 Questions for 21 Millionaires.  In his work,  Brandon asks 21 questions to 21 millionaires on the secrets of their success.  You will be surprised at their answers.  The answers are not the typical recommendations from all the self-help books on the market.

There is one common denominator – hard work.  Is this a big surprise?  During my years of building and managing sales organizations, there was and still is one common theme on the sales teams.  The individuals who spend the most time working, preparing, learning, and mastering the craft of selling, sell the most revenue and units.  Top performers rarely make excuses and always seem to find a way to achieve their goals.

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Creating Face to Face Community – Getting People Off the Internet

Community

When I was skimming through my list of articles in Inoreader, I came upon this story about Meetup Inc.  It really is fascinating.  You should give it a read – I hope you enjoy the article.

As the article tells us,  Scott Heiferman started Meetup about 13 years ago.  The scale his company is achieving is impressive.  Evidently 20,000 meetups are occurring every day, globally.  His business model is subscriber based and Meetup Inc does not utilize advertising revenue streams. As an aside, I wonder if and or when that will change?

Yes, I am stating the completely obvious in this blog — the internet gives small players a relatively low cost opportunity to compete against much larger companies.  Nonetheless, I am drawn to this article because of two interesting experiences which occured in my business over the past few weeks.

The first is my mortgage business.  Fresh, with my newly minted license in the state of Colorado to originate loans, I am trying to establish community.  Because I am providing management/sales consulting for small to medium businesses as well, I decided not to take the traditional route of working as a W2 employee for a major financial institution.  I chose to go it alone and create my own community of prospects, customers, and clients.

It is amazing that I can compete using tools like Meetup if I am savvy and smart.  I am able to compete against huge financial lenders that have brick and mortar buildings and on-line companies that have seemingly endless advertising dollars.  The ability to establish community is out there — as individuals, we have to be smart enough to use the tools that are available at relatively low cost: tools that get “people to leave their computer screens, to engage with friends, neighbors or complete strangers over shared interests—at a time when growing numbers of people are spending more time socializing on smartphone apps, rather than in person”.

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4 Million Cookies & Counting

entrepreneur sales management
Boulder Baked – 4 Million Cookies & Counting

Boulder Baked is a family owned business with a wonderful story.  The owner, Jim Comstock, is a close friend and I have had the pleasure to watch his business grow over the past several years. Throughout my career, I have connected with many gifted entrepreneurs – Jim is certainly one of them.  And in the past several weeks, I have found myself thinking about these people and what makes them so successful.

I have always loved Boulder Baked and the delicious cookies and cakes they deliver fresh door to door in the greater Boulder community.  I think Jim has started shipping cookies to the continental United States as well.  Honestly, the cookies are great.  But, I have had great cookies from a lot of family recipes.  So the other day, I was thinking about what makes Jim and his company different. Why is Boulder Baked so successful?  Why are their cookies, cakes, soups, and sandwiches just a bit better than the rest?

Certainly, it is their recipes, quality ingredients, and passion for customer service that makes Boulder Baked different.  If they did not deliver a high level of quality, the company would fail.  But, I suppose most of us can figure out, with enough time, how to combine flour, sugar, eggs, and chocolate to make a dozen cookies that taste great.

The difference is this – Jim figured out how to make 4 million wonderfully delicious  cookies and cakes, in many varieties, arrive fresh at your door.

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The Entrepreneur Spirit

Entrepreneurs – Four Things I have Observed

I have learned a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit in America over the past years.  Think about it, technological innovations, great ideas, and the stuff that America produces is just plain amazing.  This innovation impacts how we interact, communicate, and live our lives.  It is spurned on by great, creative, and crazy ideas that entrepreneurs hatch up in their minds.  These are ideas that are seemingly impossible and have no chance of success. Yet through perseverance, entrepreneurs find somebody with money who will take risk and invest in the idea that the world says can’t be done.  I have worked with, sold to, and consulted for many of these entrepreneurs over the years.  Working with entrepreneurs is a wild ride in itself.  It has been fun, mind numbing at times, and exciting… never boring.  Here are four things I have observed from entrepreneurs over the past few years:

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Beware of the Surgeon Who Has Not Replaced the Lightbulbs

deal efficiency Recently, my wife was diagnosed with cancer.  As with all cancer patients, the diagnosis brings a myriad of doctor appointments.  I attended most of the appointments to help absorb the avalanche of information cancer patients receive from doctors describing the life saving treatments they prescribe.

We arrived at the surgeon’s office, at our appointed time, and had to wait a few minutes in the lobby.  Nervously, we surveyed our surroundings, played “name the band”as we listened to Muzak, and looked at a few pictures of models modestly showing off the skills of this particular surgeon.  This office was hip and cool and definitely appealing to the up-scale Denver suburb.

I made mental note of a detail in the lobby – one of the expensive halogen pendant lights over the reception desk was burned out.  Nobody seemed to care and certainly nobody was making an effort to replace the bulb.  It was a small detail that caught my attention.  I commented to my wife that a lot is gleaned from a business that does not replace burned out light bulbs.  She scoffed at the notion that a burned out light bulb could predict the results of our experience with this doctor.

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A Kegerator Does Not Make Culture

I was meeting with a colleague last week, in a Starbucks of course, discussing important topics like strategic selling, strategy, and culture.  On the topic of culture, I recounted a meeting I had with a company several months back that was trying painfully hard to be hip, cool, and attractive to all the smart young innovators.

I arrived at their downtown offices excited to talk about their wonderfully innovative product that is seemingly right for the times.  Before we could sit down to talk business, a tour of their work space was offered.  The tour began with the COO’s crowning cultural achievement – the office kegerator.

I am always puzzled by this and it happens a lot these days.  Cool, hip, and innovative companies promising a great culture as evidenced by the kegerator.  The kegerator, as usual, was in a prominent office spot – visible to all.   I am not sure when or where this badge of honor transitioned from the fraternity house to the workplace but it must now be a universal sign of great management. The kegerator also fit well with their team photo on the web site – a group shot with everybody holding a red solo cup obviously filled with their beer of choice.  As a side note, I always wonder if extra money is spent on a quality micro brew or does the keg’s presence fulfill the intent and Coors Light is the drink of choice.

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