Whose Dream Are You Living?

What do you think of when you hear the word “dream?” When was the last time you were caught daydreaming? It’s not uncommon to catch a child daydreaming (especially in school). Unfortunately, as adults, daydreaming is something we rarely do anymore.  Maybe we get too distracted by the realities of life. Maybe we forget how to daydream. One thing is certain: We forget how important it is to spend time daydreaming. 

               
Bob Seger

Bob Seger

In his classic song Against the Wind, Bob Seger sings:

                                                                     “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then” 

When we are young and naïve, we believe almost anything is possible. As adults, we’ve spent years learning how to place limitations on what we can imagine. But,  we still see revolutionary products and cutting-edge business ideas being created every year? How is it that certain adults still have the ability to dream? 

Fred Smith

Fred Smith

Fred Smith, founder of FedEx, was given a “C” on his college paper outlining his plan for the business because his professor told him the idea of overnight shipping was unrealistic. Most people would have agreed that the idea was too far-fetched. But Fred Smith was a daydreamer and refused to listen to the naysayers.  Today, there are over 300,000 people employed by FedEx. That’s 300,000 people turning Fred Smith’s dream into a reality. 

The question is: Whose dream are you living—yours…or someone else’s? It’s not too late to start daydreaming!

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Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 4:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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How Is Your Social Media Etiquette?

Do you remember the childhood riddle, “Pete and repeat were in a boat. Pete fell overboard, so who was left?” The other person says, “Repeat,” so you just keep repeating the riddle. I used to drive my little brother crazy with that one. He wasn’t old enough to realize it was a joke. He just thought I was ignoring him. Do you ever feel as though people are ignoring you, or they are interested only in what they have to say? Advances in technology have made it easy for us to communicate, but have our basic interpersonal skills become rusty in the process? When was the last time you focused solely on what someone else is saying? Or, is your only focus just to make sure that you get your point across?

Certainly, one of the great advances in communication in recent years is the advent of social media. You can literally reach millions of people with a message in the blink of an eye. You can progress from being a virtual unknown to a celebrity, rock star or big-business owner in a matter of months, weeks, or even days. As a business owner, hopefully you realize the incredible potential that lies within the world of social media. But, do you use it merely for getting your own point across or do you also consider other people’s good ideas as well?

Tweet

Twitter has taken off like wildfire. It is replacing many of the traditional news and advertising outlets. The days of press releases, faxes, and repeated phone calls to the media appear to be numbered. Nowadays, all you have to do is tweet about an event, and it seems people are instantly aware of it. For that to happen, however, people have to pass your message along.

Remember that “re-tweeting” is the newest form of encouragement. When was the last time you passed along someone’s tweet? When you re-tweet something it says, “I’m listening and I like what you said.” So, remember the next time you set sail on Twitter’s high seas, you may want to consider tossing tweet for re-tweet! American Underdog

Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 5:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Perception May Not Be Everything-But It’s close

Have you ever called a business and made a decision about whether or not to hire that business based on what you hear on the other end of the line? Imagine if you are looking for marketing help. You call XYZ Marketing only to have your call answered by a person  who has a screaming baby in the background. As the child wails, you hear: “This is XYZ marketing— what da ya want?” Could that possibly influence your decision on whether to continue the relationship?

On the other hand, have you ever rang a business for the first time and had your call answered by a polite, confident, knowledgeable person whose demeanor immediately told you this was  someone you wanted to do business with? Let’s face it: perception is important. Like it or not, we are drastically influenced by how we perceive people—and businesses.

If perception plays such a critical role in business, how can you use that to your advantage?

A good friend of mine had his own consulting business but was getting ready to sell it. He began making changes that affected how a potential buyer might perceive the firm. My friend moved his offices to a high-end business complex downtown, changed the dress code, and he even hired a receptionist to greet clients. Did any of these adjustments change the actual way he ran his business? Not really, but when a prospective buyer walked into the office, he saw a business that—in his mind— was on its way to the top. My friend used this strategy twice, and it worked both times.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi was an iconic athlete in the nineties. He was unstoppable both on and off the tennis courts. He earned a total of more than $30 million in prize money from his tennis competitions, but he earned nearly that much every year from his endorsements— about $25 million annually! Canon was one of his highest paying sponsors. Canon’s advertising campaign with Agassi, “Image Is Everything” was a multi-million dollar success.

So, what’s the bottom line? Image can send you to the top—or keep you on the bottom. Your image—or the perception of what you project to your client— should be considered when making almost every business decision. American Underdog

Published in: on April 6, 2010 at 11:38 pm  Comments (2)  
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Busting The Myths

Have you ever thought about starting a business? Did you ever have an idea for a product that you thought could make millions? Have you ever seen a successful entrepreneur interviewed and think to yourself, “They don’t seem any smarter than me.” So, what’s holding you back? There are a handful of common myths that keep people from moving forward. Let’s talk about some of those myths and a few well known entrepreneurs who didn’t buy them.

Myth #1-“I don’t have enough money.”

This is probably one of the biggest myths out there. As an entrepreneur, if you aren’t familiar with the term “bootstrapping,” you should be. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs have been great bootstrapper’s. That is to say they “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” and got creative when financing their start-up. There are many ways to do this. One of the more common ways is to continue working your current job. Most new businesses won’t generate revenue immediately. So, rather than put yourself in a financial crunch, rely on your current income as long as you can and work on your new venture in the off hours.  This will also allow you to re-invest once you do turn a profit. Another way you can get creative is to bring on a partner; someone who shares your passion and can help absorb the initial costs. And of course, don’t forget wealthy ‘Aunt Betty.’  Many times relatives or friends are good potential investors, especially once they see how passionate you are about your new venture.

Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc

Did you know that McDonald’s was not Ray Kroc’s idea? Ray Kroc had a job as a milkshake salesman when he met the McDonald brothers and saw their operation. How much money do you think Ray Kroc made as a milkshake salesman?($14k/yr) Here was a 52-year-old man who had no seed money,  but saw an opportunity.

 

Myth #2-“I’m too old.”

Do you know at what age men become most productive? Studies have shown that men become most productive at age 40. Many women are discovering home-based businesses after the kids leave home. Today, we are living longer lives and enjoying better health than ever before. In 1960, the average life expectancy was 70 years old. Today it is almost 80 years old. So, it’s true “40 really is the new 30.”

Col. Sanders

Col. Harland Sanders founder of Kentucky fried chicken, was 60 years old when his restaurant was shut down due to a new highway being constructed. At that point he was forced to live on his $105 pension.  At the age of 62, he traveled across the country by car from restaurant to restaurant, cooking batches of chicken for restaurant owners and their employees. If the reaction was favorable, he entered into a handshake agreement that would pay him a nickel for each chicken the restaurant sold. Do you think Col. Sanders believed he was too old?

Myth #3-“What if someone steals my idea?”

While you do have to protect yourself and your idea, the notion that someone is just waiting for you to give them an idea so they can run with it is not very realistic. There are many ways you can legally protect yourself. The bigger question is, if you think your idea is so great why aren’t you capitalizing on it? The Internet gives you direct access to the USPTO(United States Patent and Trademark Office). Here, you can file paperwork to protect your idea. Now, could someone still take your idea? The answer is yes. Should that stop you? The answer is no!

Walt Disney

In 1928, Walt Disney suffered a devastating setback. At 26 years old this inexperienced businessman naively signed away his ownership rights to his first successful cartoon creation, “Oswald the Lucky rabbit.” Can you imagine the disappointment Disney must have felt? What if he had let that stop him?

The question is, “do you feel you are called to something greater than that which you are currently doing?” If the answer is “yes,” no matter what the excuse is, you can’t deny the person you are meant to be. American Underdog

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What Happened To Customer Service?

What happened to customer service? Are we even allowed  to talk about it anymore?  What  happened to the days of friendly employees, knowledgeable staff and the general thinking that, “the customer is always right?” It seems, today we find grumpy employees, clueless staff and an attitude that suggests you’re a jerk unless you tip.

At one time I vowed to write a book entitled, “can I speak to the manager?” It seemed I was asking this question with more and more frequency.  Have you ever found yourself on the phone with a customer service representative that couldn’t care less what your situation is? I finally reached a point where I almost immediately asked to speak to a supervisor if I wasn’t receiving the help I needed. It wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t just the employees who lacked proper customer service skills. I have since decided the name of my book will be, “can I speak to a manager who cares?”

We already established that by being in business for yourself you are an underdog. No matter what field you are in you have to determine how to differentiate yourself from the competition. It seems to me, if you are in the service industry, having excellent customer service would be the best place to start.

Truett Cathy

Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A fast food chain once said,

We must motivate ourselves to do our very best, and by our example lead others to do their best as well.”

Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t really expect great customer service when I go into a fast food restaurant. But, here is an example that no matter what business you’re in good customer service begins at the top. If you walk into any Chick-fil-A in the country you will be greeted with a smile and the words ”my pleasure!”

I don’t care if you’re selling burgers, designing websites or driving a taxi, if you are in business for yourself one of the best investments you can make is to ensure that everyone involved with your business understands what great customer service is.

American Underdog

Published in: on March 22, 2010 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Do You Lack PASSION?

 

Would you say you are passionate about your work? Do you love your work enough to do it for free?(I always thought that was a dumb question) But, it’s true! Shouldn’t we enjoy what we do, every day, enough to do it for free? I’m always amazed when I meet people who hate what they do. Okay, maybe you only dread your work:) What is your plan? Have you ever dreamed of doing what you enjoy doing and getting paid for it? Maybe you are asking yourself, “what’s wrong with me…I’m not passionate about anything?” Before you crucify yourself, understand passion has to be developed in many people. I know there are those people who seem to be passionate about everything they do.But, that doesn’t mean everyone is born with passion.

If you are one of the millions of people out there re-thinking their life(plan) right now, maybe it’s time to start asking these questions. Remember, if you’re not willing to make a change, nobody else is going to do it for you. Take a small step today. Just give some thought to the question, “Am I passionate about what I do every day?” Don’t think about what you’re qualified for or if you’re too old to make a change! Just start there.

Understand, if you are willing to even ask yourself that question, you are an “underdog.” That is to say you are in the minority and many people will discourage you from even thinking that way. This is the first post ‘from one underdog to another.’  Follow my blog and let’s kick some butt! American Underdog


Published in: on March 18, 2010 at 3:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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