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How to Prevent Burnout and Enjoy the Journey of Entrepreneurship

Joseph Lazukin

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“In your video, you really touched on the importance and value of having a moment to yourself every morning, how valuable do you believe taking those breaks every day? And what would you recommend to the entrepreneur or solopreneur who feels the need to work around the clock to get ahead, because it really seems like you’re hinting that taking those few moments for reflection every day seem to have been an important role in your success?”

Oh man, I could talk about this for days but I’ll keep it short. Burnout is real and it sucks. I think taking care of yourself everyday allows you to consistently show up and perform the way your family, employees, customers, and investors need you to over time.

My advice: Build your “daily moments” around things you already do. If you drink coffee, spend a few extra moments each morning to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee. If you journal and plan your day, write down 3 things you’re grateful for before you even look at your calendar.

You can’t drive a car on empty, let alone floor it on the highway. Baking positive daily habits into things you already do is a great way to “keep your tank full” as you work towards your goals.

“That’s awesome man, love it, and love the message! So I have to ask, throughout the entire process that you’ve been going through to build JavaPresse, what would you say are your five greatest takeaways or moments that you experienced the greatest challenges and/or the greatest growth, and how would you approach those same situations differently knowing what you know now?”

This is an awesome question, thanks for asking man. I’ve had a ton of learnings but here are 5 that made the biggest impact:

1) Getting comfortable with trusting other people to do great work. I’ve always felt like I can do just about anything (thanks Mom!), so delegating and trusting people to do a good job was a huge learning curve for me. In hindsight, I wish I would have started delegating sooner because having the right team members are an amazing thing. My rule of thumb now: If someone can deliver at least 90% of the quality (I think) I can deliver, let them take over. 90% is still an A.

2) Building relations with suppliers in China. Having the right relationships in China is one of our biggest strengths, but I went through a ton of ups and downs navigating the landscape, learning how the Chinese do business, and finding the quality I expect to deliver. People from different cultures are motivated by different things. In hindsight: I would work harder to understand how they work and get good at playing their game. That would have saved me thousands of dollars in manufacturing mistakes and months of time.

3) Managing focus. I worked a full-time job, had a long distance girlfriend, and built my company from scratch at the same time. Each had time commitments which were difficult to juggle. Pro tips for anyone managing multiple responsibilities: Don’t manage your time, start managing your focus. During work time, don’t do anything else but work. No emails, no unproductive browsing etc. When you’re spending time with family/friends/significant others, don’t do anything but be present with your loved ones. This actually trains your mind to perform at it’s highest capacity when you need it to. Almost like flipping a switch, which is powerful skill to have.

4) Staying motivated. When we first started getting inklings of success and I had fulfilled all of the goals I set for myself at the time, I got complacent. The old goals I had for why I wanted to succeed weren’t motivating me to reach for the moon anymore. If the goals you’ve got right now don’t motivate you to perform, identify new ones that will. Read books, travel, find mentors, and do whatever it takes to figure out your “why”. It’s the one thing that will make or break your success.

5) Build a brand. When we first started out, we were just selling physical products online, which created a really transactional relationship with our customers. Once we started being intentional about building a tribe and brand that made a real difference, sales took off and customer loyalty quadrupled. Biggest takeaway: Play the long game. Build a relationship with your customers through a product or user experience that blows them away. This will pay dividends down the line.

“Love it man! You touched on two really deep topics that I think a lot of people struggle with, work life balance, and giving up control by delegating roles. For people like myself, that struggle with delegating roles and trust, what actionable tips would you recommend to help people get over that mental hurdle? Sell us on the idea of why delegation and having trust in your team is critical for achieving success, and take us down a day in your shoes of what problems you faced and how giving up control helped you ultimately achieve your goals.”

Believe it or not, I actually think having a team you can trust and work-life balance go hand-in-hand. You can’t disconnect and enjoy your life if you’re constantly worried/involved in every part of your business. You can’t produce your greatest work if you don’t step away from time to time.

For actionable tips, I’m gonna give one of my e-mentors Cameron Herold a shoutout for sharing this incredibly insightful gem with me.

“Write down every single thing you do in your life for an entire month. Once you do, divide them into 4 categories.

Incompetent

Competent

Excellent

Unique Ability

You’ll find that 80-90% of the things you do every single day starting out can fit into the incompetent, competent, and excellent.”

Cameron is a freaking genius. Once you do this exercise, you’ll realize that there are very few things you can uniquely do to change the trajectory of your business.


This is the biggest reason why I believe creating systems and finding the right people to run them is one of the highest leverage activities we can do as business owners. As Cameron made me realize above, I don’t think every single task we do in our businesses is a unique skill set. 80% of them are things that can be learned and documented for duplication. So if you focus on providing great systems and resources (which is 100% in your control) for the right people, you can quickly create a sustainable business that doesn’t need you around 24/7 to run and scale, while giving you the space to focus on your unique skillets that can grow the business beyond what it’s currently doing.

One of the biggest problems I faced when I started delegating and hiring was expecting everyone to have an intrinsic desire to perform at a high level. That simply isn’t the case. Once I realized that, I started hiring for the character traits I valued and skills sets/accomplishments that verified those traits (of course, qualifications were still looked at but they weren’t the deciding factor). With this mindset, every single person I hired turned into an investment that compounded down the line.

It might take some hand holding or mentoring in the beginning so your teammates can learn company culture and expectations, but eventually you’ll be able to trust and delegate yourself out of day-to-day tasks and into unique roles that only you can leverage to create massive impact.

And operating from that space is what I really think allows us to win big in business, help people in incredible ways, and deliver our best work.

“That is phenomenal advice, and I think everyone at every level struggles with the hiring process. It’s not just a hard task to find the right hire, but it is also a task in itself in discovering what truly makes the strongest impact to drive your business forward.

Thank you Raj for taking the time to jump on with us and sharing with all of our readers a deep insight into the growing pains you experienced. You definitely didn’t hold back on the value you shared and it’s safe to say that this interview was littered with gold nuggets. I will definitely be following your progress and growth with JavaPresse and look forward to talking again soon.”

For anyone interested in following Raj Jana or learning more about JavaPresse, click here!

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Entrepreneurs

How to Brand Yourself and Your Business at the Same Time

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In the age of automation, people seek to feel personally connected to companies more than ever. The most successful brands have a well-developed narrative and voice, delivering messages to their followers with an air of approachability and ease. Nobody can deny that they prefer feeling like they are being talked with and not talked at.

For many companies, this process involves telling the story of their CEO/Founder just as much as telling the story of the company. A company’s foundation and values is often based on those of its founder’s, and building a successful brand often begins with a certain level of personal publicity and networking. It’s common knowledge that investors invest in ideas, and ideas are direct products of people. So, as the person behind an idea, how can you ensure you are doing yourself and your company justice in terms of branding?

Below are 3 characteristics of your brand you must think about in order to be a success:

1. What’s Your Story?

Make your company’s story your story. People revere Steve Jobs just as much as they do Apple, because they have followed his and Wozniak’s struggles and successes for just as long. With his trademark black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and mega-casual New Balance sneakers, the simplicity of his look directly mirrored the minimalism of Apple’s design. Be it unintentionally, Jobs branded himself just as much as he did Apple.

Whether you’re the owner of a startup or small business, you will want to establish this same connection. On your company’s “About” page, tell about your history and how it has led you to where you are now. Discuss your vision, goals, and aspirations for the future of the company and how events in your personal life inspired you to begin your business.

For example, real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran has frequently discussed how a failed relationship and financially-strained upbringing led her to the establishment of her multi-million dollar firm. Candidness and personal publicity are what people admire most in a founder. So sit down, decide what story you want to tell, determine what kind of voice you are going to use to tell it (be it modest, confident, or humorous), and then decide how you want to tell it.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

2. Set Your Brand into Motion

As discussed, branding is all about the story you tell and how you tell it. Social media has become an excellent outlet for that, because it is the one place where a brand can behave as a person. You create your company’s Facebook page and people watch as it interacts with other people. Of course, this is a person acting on behalf of the brand, but that person has a personality, candor, and voice that people begin to associate with the brand itself.

You may be a one-man-band handling your own marketing and day-to-day operations, or you may have hired a marketing rep/team to handle the social media for you. If it’s the latter, establishing a shared belief of what the voice is for your brand is crucial. Nobody will follow a company whose tone is inconsistent. People like reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability.

Whatever voice you choose for your brand should not be too far off from your own. The names of Elon Musk’s business ventures and projects are based directly on his spontaneous wit and spasmodic humor, i.e. the Boring Company, the BFR, and Tesla models S, 3, X, Y (released in that order for an obvious end result).

Much like Musk did, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an important element in voicing your and your brand’s opinions. You will want to gain traction on your personal and your business accounts, and interweave the topics and narrative styles of both accounts on a consistent basis.

3. Be Your Brand

Business cards, interviews, your company website, and networking events – these are all ways to solidify and build your brand. Wherever you go, you are embodying a persona that people will forever associate with your business. By having a say in your company’s identity, that persona will even show in aspects like your logo, website design, and mission statement. Knowledge of branding means that you will always be your own publicist, even when you can one day afford to hire one.

Self-branding is the precursor to success, hence the rise of influencers and public figures in the social media era. Developing your personal brand and having an existing following will garner the much-needed support for your business. Suddenly, the people who have followed you personally become potential investors, crowd funders, and advertisers (never underestimate the power of the “share” button) for your business.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

Creating continuity, popularity, and solidarity between your personal brand and your company’s brand is as simple as ensuring you pour as much of yourself into your company’s work as possible. This involves being directly involved in establishing its image, pitching it to investors, and writing articles on behalf of your company for publishers and influencers. You are your own spokesperson, and social media makes that feat easier than ever.

How do you make sure you’re branding yourself correctly whether as an individual or a with your business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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5 Reasons Why Perfectionists Cannot Be Entrepreneurs

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Perfectionists have high standards for themselves and for others. In an office environment, as employees, they take their responsibilities seriously and never complete any task or project without double-checking even the minutest detail to ensure that it is perfect. They can be irritating to others, too, because they expect the same perfection from their co-workers.

When a perfectionist who has been amazing on the job decides that they want to strike out as an entrepreneur, there are personality traits that can really work against success. Knowing about these in advance may help a perfectionist avoid some of these pitfalls.

Here are five of those pitfalls:

1. I Have to Do It Myself

Perfectionists believe only they can complete a task or project exactly right. Due to this, they operate in two ways:

  • If they have a team with specific tasks, they will micro-manage every step of the way. Having done this myself, I can confirm that this is exhausting.
  • They don’t employ or outsource anything, because they must control every aspect of their businesses and spend whatever time is necessary to complete every task themselves. They must feel in control or things will go wrong.

The problem of course is that, as business tasks and processes expand, the perfectionist finds himself grappling with an ever-expanding list of tasks to perform. At some point, he “hits a wall,” because there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ultimately, this means that there will be tasks not completed exactly right, and this is a “killer” for the perfectionist.

The solution is not an easy one. It will require admission that no one can be “perfect” in every facet of a business. For me, it was the accounting function. If a perfectionist can pick just one facet of the business that must be tasked to someone else, this is a major first step. After that major first step, it will gradually become easier to task out other facets. It’s gradual, and it is a process.

2. Inability to Accept Feedback

Because a perfectionist truly believes only they can “do it right,” when positive or negative feedback comes along their defenses are immediately activated.

Perfectionists have difficulty admitting any weakness. While most entrepreneurs seek advice and counsel from others as they develop their business plans and steps toward a launch, perfectionists tend not to seek advice, believing again that only they can make the process work. They must strive to develop the perfect product or service, no matter how long that may take.

One famous perfectionist was Steve Jobs of Apple. He wanted control of every aspect of product development and insisted that every employee come to him for approval of every detail of a new product innovation. He was unrelenting and known for bursts of anger, often firing employees at will, and that led to his removal from the company at one point. However, he did have a transformation of sorts after he was brought back in to revive Apple, and his perfectionism did modify, especially after he became ill.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

3. Perfectionists Delay Launches

When a perfectionist decides to strike out on his own, he develops a product or a service for which he believes there is a customer base. He develops a business plan and establishes timelines, just as most would-be entrepreneurs do.

The difference between perfectionist and non-perfectionist entrepreneurs is this: the non-perfectionist is willing to develop an MVP, launch it, test the waters, and modify and improve that product or service as they receive feedback and data from marketing and sales efforts.

The perfectionist, on the other hand, cannot launch a less-than-perfect product or service. They fear rejection and failure. There will always be something that can be improved in some way. The result is that a launch is indefinitely delayed and so are marketing plans and the development of a customer base.

4. Perfectionists Suffer from Lack of Balance

Because of their obsession with both doing it all themselves and being perfect in everything, perfectionist entrepreneurs will find themselves increasing their work hours and spending every waking hour on business-related activities. Ultimately, they will sacrifice social activities, time with family, vacations, and even small previous pleasures, like a lunch or dinner out or shopping. They avoid phone calls from friends, forego meals and sleep, and often suffer from insomnia and chronic fatigue.

In short, work becomes the perfectionist’s entire life. These long, unrelenting hours, often combined with stress because of the never-ending list of tasks, lead to burnout. And when burnout is reached, it’s impossible to function effectively. The signs of this include inability to focus and forgetfulness – something that a perfectionist cannot tolerate.

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” – Philip Green

5. Perfectionists Will Lose Their Creativity

One of the key ingredients of successful entrepreneurship is creative thought and problem-solving. This is how new products and services are developed or existing ones improved along with how new and unique marketing strategies are developed.

When perfectionists are so focused on those tasks at hand and dealing with the fear that things will not be perfect, they lose their ability to think “outside of the box.”

Even though Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he was able to back off at times and to “dream” of what could be. This drove Apple to new heights under his returned leadership and his change in mental approach.

It’s not that perfectionists cannot be successful entrepreneurs, it’s that they have to work to accept that “done” can actually be as good or better than “perfect.” “Done” means that the company is launched; it means that products are out there and that marketing strategies are beginning to bring in customers. Often, the beginnings of this kind of success will modify a perfectionist’s behavior going forward. And the additional bonus is that the entrepreneur may actually find time for social and family time again.

Has the need to be perfect ever stopped you from accomplishing something you truly wanted? If this is true, let us know in the comments below how you overcame your perfectionism and kept moving ahead.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Leadership and Life on Mars: Elon Musk Offers 3 Important Lessons for Entrepreneurs

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Image Credit: Solar Tribune

Five, four, three, two, one — blast-off. Elon Musk is headed to Mars… eventually. The space-loving billionaire discussed his dreams of going into space and even life on Mars during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” he said.

For many business leaders, believing in a future beyond their own hypothetical stars is what drives them forward each day. And with the majority of rapidly growing companies looking to increase their hiring this year, according to a January report by the team at Spark Hire, 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States, leaders need more inspiration than ever to build up their talent and create a brighter tomorrow for their companies.

These 3 lessons from Elon Musk will help you map out long-term goals, learning and development opportunities, and even succession planning:

1. Creating goals for the future

You want your team to look toward the future of your company and believe it isn’t stagnant — nor are their careers. For employees to dedicate 100 percent of themselves to their roles, they need to see plans for the future. Even more important, they should be involved in the planning process. You wouldn’t create a civilization on Mars without consulting the first travellers, would you? Their opinions, expectations, and needs would be key factors.

Give your team the same opportunity to plan for their careers by developing an entrepreneurial spirit in them. Challenge each person to make a business plan for their current or future role at the company. Ask them to lay out where they see the company in five years and how they’ll help it get there.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great” – Elon Musk

2. Don’t make work about one miserable problem after the next

A difficult leadership lesson many of us learn early on is admitting our company has problems. The more important lesson is knowing how to efficiently and effectively overcome those problems, then move on.

The inability to do this results in employees hopping from one miserable problem to the next. After a while, employees become overwhelmed, and it’s impossible to believe the future will be better than the past.

Of course, work can’t always be sunshine and rainbows, so the key here is giving your team the tools to rise above problems and work smarter. When a problem occurs, jump into a team meeting or call to quickly resolve the issue. This shows employees you’re always available to help, which keeps morale high.

Afterwards, brainstorm ways to ensure the problem doesn’t arise again. Have employees note what they feel went wrong and how it can be resolved. Immediately implement these changes to show you’re focused on improving their work experiences.

3. Let them know you’re working to improve their lives

The negativity in this world is overflowing. Work should be a place where employees feel safe to be their genuine, creative, dreaming selves. Every leadership lesson should point back to employees knowing they’re important to the company’s success and that they belong. This is crucial for retention and attracting top talent.

According to a 2017 Globoforce report, Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work, you can do this by focusing on your team as people who have lives outside of work. In fact, 54 percent of respondents said they would like more opportunities to celebrate life events — such as having a baby, getting married, or buying a house. Additionally, 90 percent of workers who celebrated more than five life events said they feel like they belong in their company.

“And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” – Elon Musk

Let employees know you care about their lives outside of work by celebrating their life events. If possible, give each person a day off for their birthdays and offer benefits to support important life events, like paid parental leave policies.

Which one of these lessons could you use most in your life right now? Let us know in the comments below so we can be of help!

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6 Ways to Knock Down a Door, From A Former Mr. World Canada

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Image Credit: Gordon Clark of Gordon Clark Photography (Pictured Frankie Cena)

A friend of mine introduced me to Frankie Cena a week ago. I spoke with him on Skype and listened to his story. How one person can achieve so much at a young age, against so much adversity blows my mind and he has a lot to teach you in this article.

As a child, Frankie Cena was happy but also underprivileged and unsatisfied. The cooperative housing unit where he lived kept him close to his family and fed his love of the spotlight—sharing a room with his sister, and performing for all the neighbours who’d stick around to hear.

But it also left him wanting more: more for himself, more for his family; more excitement and more opportunity; more chances for him and the people around him to become whatever they wanted to be.

At 26, Frankie’s desire shows few signs of ebbing. He’s the founder of a speech and debate academy, where he works together with his mother and sister. He has over 200 students whom he mentors inside and outside the debate room.

And in a debate circuit traditionally dominated by private schools, Frankie’s student-body cuts across social class, helping diversify Canada’s roster of international award-winning debaters.

He’s tried to redirect his newfound revenue back into the community that made him. Recently, he gave a 2018 dollar New Years prize to a local woman with down syndrome; and another 24,000 dollars in scholarships to several Burnaby students.

But Frankie is also a proud showman. In 2012 he was crowned Mr. World Canada and represented his country at the Mr. World Pageant in 2012—at 5’ 6”, the shortest contestant in the history of any major male beauty pageant.

He went on to win the competition’s talent portion, singing for millions; to co-host Mr. World 2014; and, in 2014, to join the hosting team for the even larger Miss World Competition. In 2017, Frankie was hired to help create and host the all new, Miss World- “Head to Head Challenge” a platform which gave viewers an in depth look at the 120 Miss World Contestants.

Now I can’t say I know anything about these types of competitions but that’s impressive. Between debate, performance, and his obsession with reality television, Frankie’s interests may seem far-flung.

But to him, chasing so many disparate things is just a part of discovering who he is, and doing justice to the people who fought so he could be there.

The advice that Frankie gives that helps so many people around the world is this:

“Whenever one door closes,” he likes to tell his students, “knock it down.”

Here’s what I learned from Frankie:

 

1. Find Your Passion—Then Chase it Down.

  • If you are not in love with what you’re doing, stop doing it. Almost no one has been successful doing something they do not love.
  • Love gives us creativity and energy, and the power to be ferociously positive after failure. Frankie has met a billion smart, charismatic people around the world who are doing nothing, because they do not know what they love to do.
  • To find their passions, Frankie tells people to do the Eat, Sleep, Poop Test. If when you’re doing something, you don’t think about eating, sleeping, pooping, or anything other than that thing—then that is what you’re meant to do.

 

 2. Cherish Every Person and Every Moment

  • When the moment that makes your dreams come true hits you, you’ll never see it coming. So keep your eyes and ears open, always. Cherish, value and engage with every moment and person because you don’t know what they’ll offer you.
  • When someone asked Frankie if he wanted to be Mr. World Canada, he had no idea that he’d eventually become the host of that international competition, or a face of Miss World—that’d he’d soon be a presenter for an audience of millions. His only thought was—“Let’s see where this takes me.”

 

3. Be “That Guy.”

  •  Give everything, not just what you were hired for. Show that you’re there for the vision, not just for yourself—and that you’re vital to making it all real.
  •  At Miss World Frankie went above and beyond to do more work, talk to more people, and make an impact on more areas and levels than was expected of him. Those around him knew that he would go above and beyond to meet the needs of the organisation and their collective ideal.

 

4. Don’t Be a Donald

  • The days of arrogant, selfish men, puffing out their chests and exploiting the people around them, are numbered. We’ve learned to see overconfidence for what it is: theatre, dishonesty, a cover-up for incompetence and abuse. Kindness and honesty inspire trust and suggest authenticity. They’ll propel you much farther.
  • Surrounded by chiselled, statuesque men, Frankie knew that he probably couldn’t compete, at Mr. World, based on the typical standards of a male beauty pageant. So he did what he knew he could do well: he projected happiness and kindness. He got to know the other contestants, the chaperones, the cameramen, the producers.

“They wanted him back not necessarily because he was the most talented or the best host, but because he had an aura that people had faith in”   

 

5. Learn to Fail Well

  • Any failure, in the big-picture of your life, is nothing but a split-second detour. But in our world of instant gratification—of Facebook, of Twitter, of having everything at our fingertips—they tend to take an outsize importance. We get sad and moody and refuse to move on from failure. But you will have a million failures in your life. And if you fall apart whenever one happens, you won’t have much time left to try again.
  • Frankie has had to swallow rejection on a daily basis. He has heard “you’re not good enough,” “sorry, not this time,” “close but no cigar”—at debate and public speaking competitions, during X Factor auditions—more than he can count. But if he or his students let those failures slow him down, they wouldn’t have had the time or the energy for any of their victories.

 

6. Dream Big

  • If you limit your aspirations you will limit what you can visualise, and hence what you can produce. And it’s not enough just to dream every once in a while.Dream consistently and constantly—and set your standards so high that you make a habit of being absolutely excellent.
  • When Frankie would talk about coaching, he’d claim that his students would one day be the best debaters around. When he’d talk about becoming a singer, he’d tell people he’d be bigger than Bieber. And when he’d talk about hosting television, he’d say he’d outdo Ryan Seacrest. Because he knew that if he didn’t see himself in those positions, no one else ever would.

<<<>>>

 If you’d like to connect with Frankie then visit http://frankiecena.com/

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Motivation

5 Daily Habits to Remain Highly Motivated

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While some of us can naturally maintain a relatively high constant level of motivation, others find it more difficult. This is actually a normal fact of life. After all, the beauty and richness of life is in our attempt to reconcile and manage our different states. (more…)

My name is Bachir Bastien. Being the sparkle that will ignite the fire of possibilities in as many people as possible is how I define myself. I was born and raised in Haiti by my mother. My life has been a struggle since conception. I decided that I was going to use my stories to empower others. These experiences may have been lemons, but I can use them to make sweet lemonade. This is what I have decided to do. That became my life purpose. My first name Bachir means messenger of good news in Arabic; I have been doing just that for the past two years here in Taiwan through articles, workshops, seminars and speeches. I have seen students changing behaviors, increase in confidence, watched students conquer stage fright, etc. This in turn gives me the unwavering certitude that I can empower more people.

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Entrepreneurs

How to Brand Yourself and Your Business at the Same Time

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In the age of automation, people seek to feel personally connected to companies more than ever. The most successful brands have a well-developed narrative and voice, delivering messages to their followers with an air of approachability and ease. Nobody can deny that they prefer feeling like they are being talked with and not talked at.

For many companies, this process involves telling the story of their CEO/Founder just as much as telling the story of the company. A company’s foundation and values is often based on those of its founder’s, and building a successful brand often begins with a certain level of personal publicity and networking. It’s common knowledge that investors invest in ideas, and ideas are direct products of people. So, as the person behind an idea, how can you ensure you are doing yourself and your company justice in terms of branding?

Below are 3 characteristics of your brand you must think about in order to be a success:

1. What’s Your Story?

Make your company’s story your story. People revere Steve Jobs just as much as they do Apple, because they have followed his and Wozniak’s struggles and successes for just as long. With his trademark black turtleneck, Levi’s 501s, and mega-casual New Balance sneakers, the simplicity of his look directly mirrored the minimalism of Apple’s design. Be it unintentionally, Jobs branded himself just as much as he did Apple.

Whether you’re the owner of a startup or small business, you will want to establish this same connection. On your company’s “About” page, tell about your history and how it has led you to where you are now. Discuss your vision, goals, and aspirations for the future of the company and how events in your personal life inspired you to begin your business.

For example, real-estate guru Barbara Corcoran has frequently discussed how a failed relationship and financially-strained upbringing led her to the establishment of her multi-million dollar firm. Candidness and personal publicity are what people admire most in a founder. So sit down, decide what story you want to tell, determine what kind of voice you are going to use to tell it (be it modest, confident, or humorous), and then decide how you want to tell it.

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J.K. Rowling

2. Set Your Brand into Motion

As discussed, branding is all about the story you tell and how you tell it. Social media has become an excellent outlet for that, because it is the one place where a brand can behave as a person. You create your company’s Facebook page and people watch as it interacts with other people. Of course, this is a person acting on behalf of the brand, but that person has a personality, candor, and voice that people begin to associate with the brand itself.

You may be a one-man-band handling your own marketing and day-to-day operations, or you may have hired a marketing rep/team to handle the social media for you. If it’s the latter, establishing a shared belief of what the voice is for your brand is crucial. Nobody will follow a company whose tone is inconsistent. People like reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability.

Whatever voice you choose for your brand should not be too far off from your own. The names of Elon Musk’s business ventures and projects are based directly on his spontaneous wit and spasmodic humor, i.e. the Boring Company, the BFR, and Tesla models S, 3, X, Y (released in that order for an obvious end result).

Much like Musk did, using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an important element in voicing your and your brand’s opinions. You will want to gain traction on your personal and your business accounts, and interweave the topics and narrative styles of both accounts on a consistent basis.

3. Be Your Brand

Business cards, interviews, your company website, and networking events – these are all ways to solidify and build your brand. Wherever you go, you are embodying a persona that people will forever associate with your business. By having a say in your company’s identity, that persona will even show in aspects like your logo, website design, and mission statement. Knowledge of branding means that you will always be your own publicist, even when you can one day afford to hire one.

Self-branding is the precursor to success, hence the rise of influencers and public figures in the social media era. Developing your personal brand and having an existing following will garner the much-needed support for your business. Suddenly, the people who have followed you personally become potential investors, crowd funders, and advertisers (never underestimate the power of the “share” button) for your business.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” – Jeff Bezos

Creating continuity, popularity, and solidarity between your personal brand and your company’s brand is as simple as ensuring you pour as much of yourself into your company’s work as possible. This involves being directly involved in establishing its image, pitching it to investors, and writing articles on behalf of your company for publishers and influencers. You are your own spokesperson, and social media makes that feat easier than ever.

How do you make sure you’re branding yourself correctly whether as an individual or a with your business? Let us know your thoughts below!

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5 Reasons Why Perfectionists Cannot Be Entrepreneurs

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Perfectionists have high standards for themselves and for others. In an office environment, as employees, they take their responsibilities seriously and never complete any task or project without double-checking even the minutest detail to ensure that it is perfect. They can be irritating to others, too, because they expect the same perfection from their co-workers.

When a perfectionist who has been amazing on the job decides that they want to strike out as an entrepreneur, there are personality traits that can really work against success. Knowing about these in advance may help a perfectionist avoid some of these pitfalls.

Here are five of those pitfalls:

1. I Have to Do It Myself

Perfectionists believe only they can complete a task or project exactly right. Due to this, they operate in two ways:

  • If they have a team with specific tasks, they will micro-manage every step of the way. Having done this myself, I can confirm that this is exhausting.
  • They don’t employ or outsource anything, because they must control every aspect of their businesses and spend whatever time is necessary to complete every task themselves. They must feel in control or things will go wrong.

The problem of course is that, as business tasks and processes expand, the perfectionist finds himself grappling with an ever-expanding list of tasks to perform. At some point, he “hits a wall,” because there are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Ultimately, this means that there will be tasks not completed exactly right, and this is a “killer” for the perfectionist.

The solution is not an easy one. It will require admission that no one can be “perfect” in every facet of a business. For me, it was the accounting function. If a perfectionist can pick just one facet of the business that must be tasked to someone else, this is a major first step. After that major first step, it will gradually become easier to task out other facets. It’s gradual, and it is a process.

2. Inability to Accept Feedback

Because a perfectionist truly believes only they can “do it right,” when positive or negative feedback comes along their defenses are immediately activated.

Perfectionists have difficulty admitting any weakness. While most entrepreneurs seek advice and counsel from others as they develop their business plans and steps toward a launch, perfectionists tend not to seek advice, believing again that only they can make the process work. They must strive to develop the perfect product or service, no matter how long that may take.

One famous perfectionist was Steve Jobs of Apple. He wanted control of every aspect of product development and insisted that every employee come to him for approval of every detail of a new product innovation. He was unrelenting and known for bursts of anger, often firing employees at will, and that led to his removal from the company at one point. However, he did have a transformation of sorts after he was brought back in to revive Apple, and his perfectionism did modify, especially after he became ill.

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.” – Elon Musk

3. Perfectionists Delay Launches

When a perfectionist decides to strike out on his own, he develops a product or a service for which he believes there is a customer base. He develops a business plan and establishes timelines, just as most would-be entrepreneurs do.

The difference between perfectionist and non-perfectionist entrepreneurs is this: the non-perfectionist is willing to develop an MVP, launch it, test the waters, and modify and improve that product or service as they receive feedback and data from marketing and sales efforts.

The perfectionist, on the other hand, cannot launch a less-than-perfect product or service. They fear rejection and failure. There will always be something that can be improved in some way. The result is that a launch is indefinitely delayed and so are marketing plans and the development of a customer base.

4. Perfectionists Suffer from Lack of Balance

Because of their obsession with both doing it all themselves and being perfect in everything, perfectionist entrepreneurs will find themselves increasing their work hours and spending every waking hour on business-related activities. Ultimately, they will sacrifice social activities, time with family, vacations, and even small previous pleasures, like a lunch or dinner out or shopping. They avoid phone calls from friends, forego meals and sleep, and often suffer from insomnia and chronic fatigue.

In short, work becomes the perfectionist’s entire life. These long, unrelenting hours, often combined with stress because of the never-ending list of tasks, lead to burnout. And when burnout is reached, it’s impossible to function effectively. The signs of this include inability to focus and forgetfulness – something that a perfectionist cannot tolerate.

“It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.” – Philip Green

5. Perfectionists Will Lose Their Creativity

One of the key ingredients of successful entrepreneurship is creative thought and problem-solving. This is how new products and services are developed or existing ones improved along with how new and unique marketing strategies are developed.

When perfectionists are so focused on those tasks at hand and dealing with the fear that things will not be perfect, they lose their ability to think “outside of the box.”

Even though Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he was able to back off at times and to “dream” of what could be. This drove Apple to new heights under his returned leadership and his change in mental approach.

It’s not that perfectionists cannot be successful entrepreneurs, it’s that they have to work to accept that “done” can actually be as good or better than “perfect.” “Done” means that the company is launched; it means that products are out there and that marketing strategies are beginning to bring in customers. Often, the beginnings of this kind of success will modify a perfectionist’s behavior going forward. And the additional bonus is that the entrepreneur may actually find time for social and family time again.

Has the need to be perfect ever stopped you from accomplishing something you truly wanted? If this is true, let us know in the comments below how you overcame your perfectionism and kept moving ahead.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Leadership and Life on Mars: Elon Musk Offers 3 Important Lessons for Entrepreneurs

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Image Credit: Solar Tribune

Five, four, three, two, one — blast-off. Elon Musk is headed to Mars… eventually. The space-loving billionaire discussed his dreams of going into space and even life on Mars during the 2017 International Astronautical Congress.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great, and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” he said.

For many business leaders, believing in a future beyond their own hypothetical stars is what drives them forward each day. And with the majority of rapidly growing companies looking to increase their hiring this year, according to a January report by the team at Spark Hire, 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States, leaders need more inspiration than ever to build up their talent and create a brighter tomorrow for their companies.

These 3 lessons from Elon Musk will help you map out long-term goals, learning and development opportunities, and even succession planning:

1. Creating goals for the future

You want your team to look toward the future of your company and believe it isn’t stagnant — nor are their careers. For employees to dedicate 100 percent of themselves to their roles, they need to see plans for the future. Even more important, they should be involved in the planning process. You wouldn’t create a civilization on Mars without consulting the first travellers, would you? Their opinions, expectations, and needs would be key factors.

Give your team the same opportunity to plan for their careers by developing an entrepreneurial spirit in them. Challenge each person to make a business plan for their current or future role at the company. Ask them to lay out where they see the company in five years and how they’ll help it get there.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great” – Elon Musk

2. Don’t make work about one miserable problem after the next

A difficult leadership lesson many of us learn early on is admitting our company has problems. The more important lesson is knowing how to efficiently and effectively overcome those problems, then move on.

The inability to do this results in employees hopping from one miserable problem to the next. After a while, employees become overwhelmed, and it’s impossible to believe the future will be better than the past.

Of course, work can’t always be sunshine and rainbows, so the key here is giving your team the tools to rise above problems and work smarter. When a problem occurs, jump into a team meeting or call to quickly resolve the issue. This shows employees you’re always available to help, which keeps morale high.

Afterwards, brainstorm ways to ensure the problem doesn’t arise again. Have employees note what they feel went wrong and how it can be resolved. Immediately implement these changes to show you’re focused on improving their work experiences.

3. Let them know you’re working to improve their lives

The negativity in this world is overflowing. Work should be a place where employees feel safe to be their genuine, creative, dreaming selves. Every leadership lesson should point back to employees knowing they’re important to the company’s success and that they belong. This is crucial for retention and attracting top talent.

According to a 2017 Globoforce report, Bringing More Humanity to Recognition, Performance, and Life at Work, you can do this by focusing on your team as people who have lives outside of work. In fact, 54 percent of respondents said they would like more opportunities to celebrate life events — such as having a baby, getting married, or buying a house. Additionally, 90 percent of workers who celebrated more than five life events said they feel like they belong in their company.

“And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” – Elon Musk

Let employees know you care about their lives outside of work by celebrating their life events. If possible, give each person a day off for their birthdays and offer benefits to support important life events, like paid parental leave policies.

Which one of these lessons could you use most in your life right now? Let us know in the comments below so we can be of help!

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6 Ways to Knock Down a Door, From A Former Mr. World Canada

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Image Credit: Gordon Clark of Gordon Clark Photography (Pictured Frankie Cena)

A friend of mine introduced me to Frankie Cena a week ago. I spoke with him on Skype and listened to his story. How one person can achieve so much at a young age, against so much adversity blows my mind and he has a lot to teach you in this article.

As a child, Frankie Cena was happy but also underprivileged and unsatisfied. The cooperative housing unit where he lived kept him close to his family and fed his love of the spotlight—sharing a room with his sister, and performing for all the neighbours who’d stick around to hear.

But it also left him wanting more: more for himself, more for his family; more excitement and more opportunity; more chances for him and the people around him to become whatever they wanted to be.

At 26, Frankie’s desire shows few signs of ebbing. He’s the founder of a speech and debate academy, where he works together with his mother and sister. He has over 200 students whom he mentors inside and outside the debate room.

And in a debate circuit traditionally dominated by private schools, Frankie’s student-body cuts across social class, helping diversify Canada’s roster of international award-winning debaters.

He’s tried to redirect his newfound revenue back into the community that made him. Recently, he gave a 2018 dollar New Years prize to a local woman with down syndrome; and another 24,000 dollars in scholarships to several Burnaby students.

But Frankie is also a proud showman. In 2012 he was crowned Mr. World Canada and represented his country at the Mr. World Pageant in 2012—at 5’ 6”, the shortest contestant in the history of any major male beauty pageant.

He went on to win the competition’s talent portion, singing for millions; to co-host Mr. World 2014; and, in 2014, to join the hosting team for the even larger Miss World Competition. In 2017, Frankie was hired to help create and host the all new, Miss World- “Head to Head Challenge” a platform which gave viewers an in depth look at the 120 Miss World Contestants.

Now I can’t say I know anything about these types of competitions but that’s impressive. Between debate, performance, and his obsession with reality television, Frankie’s interests may seem far-flung.

But to him, chasing so many disparate things is just a part of discovering who he is, and doing justice to the people who fought so he could be there.

The advice that Frankie gives that helps so many people around the world is this:

“Whenever one door closes,” he likes to tell his students, “knock it down.”

Here’s what I learned from Frankie:

 

1. Find Your Passion—Then Chase it Down.

  • If you are not in love with what you’re doing, stop doing it. Almost no one has been successful doing something they do not love.
  • Love gives us creativity and energy, and the power to be ferociously positive after failure. Frankie has met a billion smart, charismatic people around the world who are doing nothing, because they do not know what they love to do.
  • To find their passions, Frankie tells people to do the Eat, Sleep, Poop Test. If when you’re doing something, you don’t think about eating, sleeping, pooping, or anything other than that thing—then that is what you’re meant to do.

 

 2. Cherish Every Person and Every Moment

  • When the moment that makes your dreams come true hits you, you’ll never see it coming. So keep your eyes and ears open, always. Cherish, value and engage with every moment and person because you don’t know what they’ll offer you.
  • When someone asked Frankie if he wanted to be Mr. World Canada, he had no idea that he’d eventually become the host of that international competition, or a face of Miss World—that’d he’d soon be a presenter for an audience of millions. His only thought was—“Let’s see where this takes me.”

 

3. Be “That Guy.”

  •  Give everything, not just what you were hired for. Show that you’re there for the vision, not just for yourself—and that you’re vital to making it all real.
  •  At Miss World Frankie went above and beyond to do more work, talk to more people, and make an impact on more areas and levels than was expected of him. Those around him knew that he would go above and beyond to meet the needs of the organisation and their collective ideal.

 

4. Don’t Be a Donald

  • The days of arrogant, selfish men, puffing out their chests and exploiting the people around them, are numbered. We’ve learned to see overconfidence for what it is: theatre, dishonesty, a cover-up for incompetence and abuse. Kindness and honesty inspire trust and suggest authenticity. They’ll propel you much farther.
  • Surrounded by chiselled, statuesque men, Frankie knew that he probably couldn’t compete, at Mr. World, based on the typical standards of a male beauty pageant. So he did what he knew he could do well: he projected happiness and kindness. He got to know the other contestants, the chaperones, the cameramen, the producers.

“They wanted him back not necessarily because he was the most talented or the best host, but because he had an aura that people had faith in”   

 

5. Learn to Fail Well

  • Any failure, in the big-picture of your life, is nothing but a split-second detour. But in our world of instant gratification—of Facebook, of Twitter, of having everything at our fingertips—they tend to take an outsize importance. We get sad and moody and refuse to move on from failure. But you will have a million failures in your life. And if you fall apart whenever one happens, you won’t have much time left to try again.
  • Frankie has had to swallow rejection on a daily basis. He has heard “you’re not good enough,” “sorry, not this time,” “close but no cigar”—at debate and public speaking competitions, during X Factor auditions—more than he can count. But if he or his students let those failures slow him down, they wouldn’t have had the time or the energy for any of their victories.

 

6. Dream Big

  • If you limit your aspirations you will limit what you can visualise, and hence what you can produce. And it’s not enough just to dream every once in a while.Dream consistently and constantly—and set your standards so high that you make a habit of being absolutely excellent.
  • When Frankie would talk about coaching, he’d claim that his students would one day be the best debaters around. When he’d talk about becoming a singer, he’d tell people he’d be bigger than Bieber. And when he’d talk about hosting television, he’d say he’d outdo Ryan Seacrest. Because he knew that if he didn’t see himself in those positions, no one else ever would.

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 If you’d like to connect with Frankie then visit http://frankiecena.com/

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