Feb 13

Choose Your Words And Control Your Destiny

Your words are your reality. I have been reading about the power of the words people speak. These instructions they give their subconscious mind directs their activities and ultimately creates their reality. I have been paying close attention to the words I use when I am making statements. The idea boils down to expressing independence versus dependence and shapes our reality.

We all use these subconscious words daily. I was surprised how often I use words of dependence – which was not the reality I intended to be creating or the vibe I was giving off to the world. Have you ever said “I need… (fill in the blank)?” Using the word “need” expresses to everyone and anyone who will listen that you are thinking of yourself as dependent. You are a victim. Are you attempting to convey to the world that you are a victim? More importantly, are you attempting to convince yourself that you are a dependent victim?

Wishing, wanting and hoping are more of those words of dependence and will ultimately leave you unfulfilled. Remember, your words create your reality! If you catch yourself saying I “wish” I was rich, you are expressing to the universe that you are at its mercy and a dependent being. The reality that those words will create for you will is more wishing that you were rich and not the reality of being rich. If you say instead I “intend” to be rich, you will instruct your brain to begin formulating the blueprint to make it happen. Even in its subconscious state you still control what your brain thinks.

I am going to be rich.

I will go to law school.

I intend to take vacation next month.

Using statements like those above challenges your brain to solve the problem you just posed. You will develop a plan and achieve those goals. You will also not allow yourself to spend time shuffling through your “go to” excuses for not achieving your goals. Excuses are the “outs” we give ourselves when we set our list of achievements up from the beginning with those loophole words above.

Needing yields only more needing.

Wishing yields only more wishing.

Wanting yields only more wanting.

Hoping yields only more hoping.

I challenge you to pay attention and see how much you and the people around you use words of dependence. You gain knowledge of a person’s outlook on life. Do you want to surround yourself with or do business with people with a dependent victim mentality who will have a propensity for not achieving goals and making excuses? Refuse to be the victim by not speaking like one. Be empowered!


Oct 11

Creative Problem Solving: Creative Thinking II

This posting is the second in my Creative Thinking Series and follows “Sane People with Insane Ideas: Creative Thinking I”. In the first post, I discussed having the courage to allow yourself to think creatively. Thinking creatively requires you to imagine an alternative path; a third path besides the two Frost wrote about diverging in a yellow wood. Its not about the road less traveled by, its about the road not even conceptualized yet. The road Frost didn’t even think about. Choosing either of Frost’s paths just lead to ordinary ends. To be extraordinary you must create your own path. In this post you will read about the importance of creative problem solving and its implications.

Thinking photo via Flickr by Victor Perez. Creative Commons License

Being creative takes practice. In fact you should practice creativity regularly. Pick something you like to do and do it daily. If you like writing, write daily. If you like painting, paint daily. Play a video game that allows you to create something from scratch. You use it or lose it. One of the most “interesting” blogs I read, Altucher Confidential by James Altucher as recently compiled some advice on this front.  Check out his “Nine Ways To Light Your Creativity ON FIRE.”

Its very important to have this tool ready to innovate or create when needed.  I say “needed” because life doesn’t throw you softballs for you to just stand around and blast out of the park. Life throws curve balls and damn good major-league-type curve balls at that. When you don’t get curve balls, you get 95 mph fastballs. You have to have the ability to develop creative solutions at a moments notice. Your ability to innovate will be the most important tool in your arsenal to solve your life’s problems and business problems.

Creativity is prevalent in successful businesses. Henry Ford developed the assembly line and reinvented the way automobiles were built. Mass production changed the world and is still the standard method of producing anything. Apple Computer, which I have written about the post “Steve Jobs – Evil, Genius or Evil Genius?”, is constantly creating new and exciting products that work together as a system.  More on Apple later. It is well written that most successful products solve a problem that no one else has solved yet.

Outhouse in the Woods photo via Flickr by Anthony van Dyck Creative Commons License

The first and most vital step in creative problem solving is recognizing the problem. Before the invention of the flushing toilet, people thought they had solved this smelly problem by simply moving the throne to a separate building called the outhouse. In winter new problems were encountered as people needed to suit up just to read the newspaper… or anything else they wanted to do in the outhouse. People just accepted this as normal and this uncomfortable element of life continued on. Until one day, one guy said “hey, I am sick and tired of having to go out in the cold and dirty outhouse every time nature called.” and then the most important: “there has to be a better way.” And there was a better way. Now people all over the world can read their newspapers in the warmth of their own homes and they never have to use an out building again (unless they want to, I am not judging).

Every entrepreneur is in the creative problem-solving business first and foremost. Without this tool in their toolbox they would have no product or no product people would need. As a creative problem solver, you identify problems and then they move on to the next step, identifying the need. The need is the solution to the customer’s problem as defined by the companies product or solution. Its the sell. “You need my product because it solves this problem.” A need is vital and much more important than just a solution.  There could be many solutions to a problem but unless a company can “own” the solution, literally and figuratively there is no way to monetize it. Thus, a company must own a own a particular solution before it can sell the need to its customers.

Which brings me back to Apple. In the past I have compared Apple to drug dealers and now I make a new comparison. Apple is great because they do business like the mob. These outfits run a similar operation in that not only do they sell the “need” to the customer, they also have to sell the “problem they they invent” to the customer. This method is like creativity on steroids, here’s how it works.

Two thugs bust in to a convenience store and rough up the proprietor with a few punches and take the cash. Before the cops are called a couple of mob associates show up and tell the owner how bad the neighborhood is.  They tell him that if he paid the mob a small “protection fee” they would make all his troubles go away.  Then the mob pays off the first two thugs they hired and on to the next one. The mob makes their money by selling a solution to a problem that they created! Genius!

Apple operates in the same way. No they don’t hire thugs to rough up PC users when the new MAC is coming out, but what they do is create solutions to problems that they create. For example, Apple sold Ipods as a solution to the problem of a world without the ability to carry every song they own with they at all times. Back in the 90’s everyone was perfectly happy and content with their CD Walkman and the 3 CD’s we could manage to lug around with us. I have to admit it is pretty cool carrying 2000 songs with me as I go for a run though. Sometimes I can’t make up my mind between Dave Matthews or Metallica. Thank you Apple for not making me choose!

Excercise your creative muscle daily. You will need it when you least expect it just in your regular life let alone business. As an entrepreneur you are in the creative problem solving business. Try and develop solutions to problems that no one else labels as “problem” yet. Create a need that you can sell your customers by owning the solutions to those problems through patents or other means.

Always ask yourself if there is a better way!


Jul 11

Sane People with Insane Ideas: Creative Thinking I

Humans cannot fly. Its an inarguable fact. In the present, its easy to name a few machines that can get us off the ground though. Can you imagine life in 1900? No Airplanes. No Helicopters. What was going on in the minds of the wives of Wilber and Orville Wright?

My husband is nuts?

We have three screaming babies and my husband is out tinkering in the barn again?

My mother was right, I should have married farmer John because he is practical and knows how to make a living?

I am sure they thought that their husband’s quest to allow a human being to fly was an insane idea. Our world has been shaped by sane people with insane ideas.

Everyone has the ability to be creative. Little children spend all day in fantasy land dreaming of growing up or of hitting home runs in the major league. Dolls are implements that foster creativity of young girls. They dream about being a mom and playing house. Little boys want to be sports heroes or truck drivers. They spend all day driving their trucks around and if they could move some real dirt around it makes their fantasy 1000 times more real.

Have you ever seen a child playing? She doesn’t care who sees her or what they think. Its her fantasy anyway. Somewhere along the line, we start caring what others thing of us. We want acceptance and support. Instead of surrounding ourselves with accepting and supportive people we change our thinking to what we think the people already around us want to hear. We are not true to ourselves and we lose our creativity over time.

It takes courage and conviction to be creative and imagine reality differently. We need to let our minds flow with good ideas and bad ones and have the courage to reveal our ideas to the world. Conviction is needed because you will come across people that are not open to thinking differently and knock your idea because it makes them feel uncomfortable. You cannot be discouraged.

For example, you reveal your desire to start a new business. If you’re lucky you will be met with excitement and support when you reveal your ideas to the people you surround yourself with. What you will probably receive and angry grumblings on how you will fail, lose everything and probably cause the end of the world. These people are so uncomfortable with themselves, their own fears about themselves spew out of their mouths. They are not even listening to you, your qualifications or your idea. They are voicing their thoughts about how they would feel about starting their own business.

In business, you have to think creatively. You must dream. You have to dare to believe in these dreams that you and only you understand and have bought in to. Entrepreneurship is a lonely lonely road. Not because you haven’t assembled a team yet, but because in the beginning, it is you and only that believes in the idea. Most importantly, you have to ignore the boo birds that will attempt to pull your dreams back down to their level so they feel comfortable with themselves. This may be your biggest challenge as you are pulled between letting your creative juices flow and conforming to the expectations of those around you.


Jul 11

Steve Jobs – Evil, Genius or Evil Genius?

Don’t ask me how I wound up delving into the investigation, but if you do some searches on the subject, “Steve Jobs Evil Genius” returns some very interesting results. Apparently I am not the only person in the world resistant to Apple and their easy to use products. Though its been a lonely road up until now, pealing back layer after layer of the Apple enigma through Google and Yahoo searches offers some solice (as you are well aware, everything on the internet is the gospel truth).

Apple photo by enricoagostoni via Diviantart Creative Commons

Rumor has it that Steve Jobs is a control freak. I think it was a recent interview on NPR where I listened to an Apple employee describe how Jobs sent a new Ipod back to engineering the night before a big unveiling event because he found that the headphones didn’t make a “click” when they were plugged in. Jobs said something to the effect of the customer expects to hear a click. And so Jobs said “let there be clicks,” and then there were clicks. Those clicks also came back under budget, well before the deadline and in 15 assorted colors.

A buddy of mine swears by his Mac. “No virus protection” he boasts. “Apple has never had a virus so no need;” he continued. I am predisposed to being risk-averse so these statements are contradictary to my fundamental make-up, but I listened… and I wondered.  How could Jobs pull this off? Is a Mac really better than a PC? Has Apple figured out the secret of life too? These questions will remain unanswered as I am not a techie, but rather a finance guy…  and the spreadsheet I was using to calculate the probabilities to answer said questions has locked up.

I am not in the position to answer these rumors so I will do my part to perpetuate them with this post. I am not ready to label Steve Jobs “Darth Vader” and Apple “The Deathstar,” but it is intriquing how a computer geek could actually be a marketing genius and a operations genius. I am thinking he has help executing his diabolical plans – which contradicts the control freak rumors.

I know a few things about Apple. The company is well run. They always impress Wall Street with great numbers. Their products do seem to be superior than their competitors. I would rather be on the side of Jobs than against him. Remember when they found the Iphone prototype in some seedy silicone valley bar and Apple was accused to planting it there for PR? I heard the guy that developed it disappeared that night. Just another Apple rumor I suppose. Its difficult to sift through the rumors to find facts. If I disappear after publishing this post, you know where to go first!

Could Jobs just be successful by being so in tuned with his customers that he knows what they want before they do? Or could it be his marketing? He locks customers in with the exclusive interconnectivity of the Apple products and only adds products that can also work well with the others. Maybe Jobs offers the forbidden fruit that is Apple to unsuspecting consumers and once they get a bite they are hooked, just like crack. The consumer can’t get enough. They rob from their parents just to get the new Iphone upgrade and new Apple interventions are being conducted by desperate families all over the world.

I heard a rumor that Jobs doesn’t use his own products. It makes sense. Everyone knows if you are going to survive peddling your “goods,” you don’t get high on your own supply.

My conclusion is that Steve Jobs must be a “genius.” I was leaning toward “evil genius,” but dropped the “evil” after reading his inspiring 2005 graduation speech at Stanford. Which, I highly recommend you read if you are confused, frustrtated, scared, lost, had a setback, will have a setback, lost perspective or have a general longing for inspiration in life.  Click below to read now.

He is human after all.


Jun 11

Golf and Business

Golf and business go hand in hand. People do business with other people that they like and not just companies. Therefore, it is imperative to let your potential new client get to know you as a person and not just by your rehearsed sales pitch which includes that funny trick can do with your gold-plated pen before you lay it down on the contract and ask for their business. People see through those stunts. You need to offer them something they don’t get elsewhere; you need to offer them substance and character.

Golf Course photo by Cam Switzer via Flickr Creative Commons

Offering substance is easier said than done. You have flaws. We all do. Those flaws may be more evident on the golf course than in the board room. On the course, there are variables which are out of your control. Wind. Rain. That shank into the woods on five. All these variables make a round of golf much like business and much like life – packed full uncontrollable variables that illustrate your reaction to such events.

Throwing your club into the woods following your bad tee shot shows that you are an emotional person who reacts illogically when faced with a challenge. Blaming the wind or other variables shows your lack of accountability and gives your client a glimpse of what lies ahead when they call with a concern or a complaint.

On the positive side, being able to lose well shows that you are a gracious person who knows exactly who you are. You do not need to win a round of golf to prove how great you are – you already know. As a side note, it’s bad form to beat the boss or a client in anything. If you are that good you can make it close and show that you are a good competitor.

Horrible golfer? Skip the course all together. You will most likely not be able to hide your frustration in front of the client. You should choose another low-pressure alternative to the board room meeting. Perhaps you should choose dinner if you know some great place and can order in French although I think dinner is played out. Maybe taking the client sailing will best display your multi-dimensionality. There are many low-pressure alternatives to a round of golf and that can put you and your substance on full display. It’s important to pick the activity that suits you best, offers plenty of opportunity to discuss your product and to ensure the client has a great time.

As a small business owner you need to have a decent golf game (or one of the alternatives above). Networking on the course builds relationships and strong bonds – as long as you don’t make an ass out of yourself. Golfing is a low-pressure way of displaying your substance and throwing in some well-timed banter about your company and or product. Be classy and the client will select you and your company will just be along for the ride. And you thought playing golf with business associates was just a way to get out of the office for an afternoon!