I read this June Inc. Magazine article last weekend and wanted to share it with all of you. I love sharing so this article obviously resonated with me and I hope it does with you as well. The article is quite long so I tried to reduce it to just the “meaty parts” but as you can see it was difficult. The link to the full article is below if you want to read through it in its entirety.
Is your life going sideways? Former Yahoo executive Tim Sanders shares his personal advice on escaping the rut and how confidence can fast-track your career.
By Dave Smith | Jun 15, 2011
How to Fast Forward Your Goals
- Sanders’ latest book, Today We Are Rich, describes how to break out of the doldrums and power your career forward. Feeling stuck in neutral is a common sentiment among entrepreneurs, but Sanders believes to have found the perfect recipe for lasting achievement and happiness. To Sanders, the key to everlasting business success all boils down to one word: confidence.
- There are two kinds: there’s circumstantial confidence—or, as Mark Cuban used to always say, “Everyone’s a genius during a bull market”—and there’s cultivated confidence, a lifestyle design principle that has to do with the information you put in your head, the conversation that comes out of your mouth, and your thoughts and deeds.
- Why do people have sideways years?
Success isn’t really a destination, because you’ll never get there. Talk to anyone with millions or billions, they’re always thinking of the next thing. Success is a direction, and that direction is forward. And in our careers, we have those forward leap years. These are years where we either grow internally, in terms of our capability, or externally, in terms of our influence and ability to extract value. So when you’re moving forward, you’re usually capturing a lot of financial value, you’re gaining a lot of assets along the way—many of them intangible, such as intellectual or your network of relationships—and you have a feeling inside yourself that you have big momentum. And it feeds on itself: The more you realize it, the more you feel it, the more it improves your performance, the more you get it, the more you leverage, and that’s how people really make leaps in life.
- Then there are those times that something has just gone haywire in your head, and you have self-destructive thoughts, and you go backwards in your career. And that’s rare, really; most people that think they’re going backwards are kind of in between, and those are what we call those “sideways years.”
- Sideways years is where you have voices in your head sometimes, and they’re triggered by voices in the real world, or what I call the “scare merchants”—on cable TV, the authors of “USA Yesterday”—these people that give you reason to be fearful as a way of drawing attention from you. What it does is it triggers the scarcity mindset inside of you. You believe there’s not enough to go around, so you go from that I’m-trying-to-move-forward feeling into survival mode. Or, you just lose your fire and you don’t have the ambition to move forward, as Napoleon Hill would say.
- You created a set of seven principles to give your life a new trajectory, to get out of those sideways years. Of those principles, which one had the greatest impact on your life?
[The principle] “Give to be rich” has had the most impact on me, because nothing sets you in a forward motion more than generosity. What generosity does is it focuses the mind on what you have, and not what you lack. Generosity forces that kind of thinking, because you’ll typically never give to someone who’s got more than you. So when you’re being a mentor to somebody who’s struggling at work or in a transition period and you see that you helped to move the needle, it helps you realize how insignificant your problems are.
- The other thing generosity does at a more physical level is it triggers the reward center in your brain, which releases a variety of chemicals. When you help and you realize you’re helping, it creates a chemical reaction which would unload things like dopamine and endorphins and serotonins. The most important thing that happens is your body will release a hormone called oxytosin. Oxytosin is known as the bonding hormone: It changes your point of view about people a little bit, and it makes you much more sympathetic and emphatic.
- For entrepreneurs, this is important. Your ability to bond with your customers, bond with your start-up employees, and trust them is the key to everything, because you can’t scale, if you can’t trust. You can’t scale a consumer business if you don’t trust consumers to give back more than you give them—ask Tony Hsieh at Zappos, incredible level of trust he has. You can’t create a great place to work like Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett did at Southwest [Airlines] if you don’t trust your people enough to say, “The customer is not always right.” Trust is difficult to create, but I have seen in the best entrepreneur circles that the most trusting are always the most giving. There’s just something about helping other people that causes you to realize that all people are good.
- I want an entrepreneur to think that every time you have an opportunity to either educate, mentor, or network someone who’s got less than you but the same desire, you should consider yourself mastering your mind. Henry Ford once said that was really the secret to his success, is that he conquered his mind. One of the greatest ways you conquer your mind is by giving, because you release things that don’t own you anymore—[André] Gide, the French philosopher, always said, “That which you can’t release, it possesses you.” I always encourage people to stockpile stuff just so you can give it away, and that you should spend prospecting time every week trying to find good opportunities and be aggressive about it. It’s not a social responsibility; it’s a social opportunity.
- If you looked at every recession since 1901, you always see entrepreneurs or organizations make great leaps during this down cycle before the recovery hits. In that tepid period, like we are right now and have been for the last two years, they always say that you’re three times more likely to make it during that period than a market top.
- In 1932, Kellogg’s makes the move and jumps over Post after being the Yahoo! of search engines, and they do it because they release Rice Krispies in 1932 against all recommendations. They understood that the technicals were strong for a promotion of a new cereal, there was still market demand, that one slice of CPG wasn’t dead in the water, and they knew Post was going to sit around and ask themselves, “Is the Depression over?”
- In 2001, the worst idea ever is to release the iPod when the dot-com crash was clearly on and Apple was taking a beating in the market. [Steve] Jobs noticed, though, that Sony, as a big slow company would be freaked out as much as he was, and they wouldn’t respond for a year or two. He really had to make that bet at that time because everybody had a Sony Walkman; if you told me that Apple would own the personal music device space in less than 24 months, I would’ve told you it had to be perfect timing. He had to do this when no one was watching, and that’s exactly what he did, and he did it again with the iPad.
- Yes. Stan Woodward was my boss at AudioNet/Broadcast.com, and I remember the first day Stan came on the job taking over business services for [Mark] Cuban. He gets us up in the crow’s nest and he says, “Listen, there’s no such thing as the self-made man. It’s just not true, it’s arrogance. You can neither do this by yourself nor enjoy this by yourself. The other thing you have to remember is your dream is bigger than you, so don’t go down alone. Swallow your pride, and go get help.” I’ll never forget that, and that’s the true entrepreneurial spirit.
- If there’s only one thing you hope readers take away from your book, what would it be?
There’s enough to go around. There’s enough to share. The only way you’re going to believe this is through confidence, but when you believe there’s enough to go around and you share in that moment, you’re worth something. This point of view, “enough to share,” is the secret to success in personal life and in business life.
White Water Ahead!
Navigating the Speed of Change
Q: What white water do you see ahead for you and your team? And how will you navigate through it?
A: I was watching Deadliest Catch last night, yes I like that show, and one of the captains was encountering 20-30 foot waves due to a massive storm. He said the only way to get through rough waters is to push the engine as hard as it can go (full throttle) into the wave, otherwise the wave controls you. Whether it is communications or any other profession, you have to be prepared for the rough waters ahead of you; and when those rough times come you have to be ready to give it your all. The best way to do that in my mind is to watch communication, business, and technology trends. In the nautical world looking for trends is keeping your eyes and ears open to changing conditions. Things like reading maps, learning about tides, wind speed, and listening to weather reports are just some of the ways you can prepare yourself for changing conditions. If you aren’t looking and listening to the trends around you, your vessel may not be able to weather the storm. I’d also say whenever possible make sure you have a clear strategy for where you are looking to go and have a good team on board with you. If your craft leaves port without a plan for where you are headed there is a very good chance you and your crewmates will be lost at sea.
“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work. Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with every new thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable. To teach that a comparatively few men are responsible for the greatest forward steps of mankind is the worst sort of nonsense.” — Henry Ford
“The act of creation is surrounded by a fog of myths. Myths that creativity comes via inspiration. That original creations break the mold. That they’re the products of geniuses. And appear as quickly as electricity can heat a filament. But creativity isn’t magic. It happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials. And the soil from which we grow our creations is something we scorn and misunderstand even though it gives us so much. And that’s copying. Put simply copying is how we learn. We can’t introduce anything new until we’re fluent in the language of our domain and we do that through emulation. For instance all artists spend their formative producing derivative work.”
I’m not a huge fan of the quality of McDonald’s food but sometimes the golden arches have a tractor beam that pulls me in with a force that is very difficult to resist. Part of why I think I think I still like McDonald’s is because of my memories as a child. Back then I wouldn’t have ever stepped foot into a Burger King, Jack in the Box, or Wendy’s if it had been up to me. I now prefer burgers from Fudruckers or Five Guys but noticed about a year ago Tyler started recognizing company brands wherever we went. I’m obviously loyal to Safeway and shop there frequently so Tyler learned to recognize Safeway and its trucks on the roads quickly. I have always loved Starbucks since I was introduced to coffee in college and Tyler knows that brand because I frequent their establishment and his mom and I have exchanged custody in their parking lot quite a bit.
What is interesting to me now raising a child is what companies are, and are not doing with regard to marketing to children. I have taken particular interest in McDonald’s marketing strategy because they are masters of catering to youth and thus older demographics. I’m a big fan of ice cream so on a nice hot day a McDonald’s shake is awesome. Not to mention the Shamrock Shakes around St. Patrick’s Day, but I digress. How is your company’s marketing to younger demographics? McDonald’s is a master of marketing to children, their happy meals and “Play Places” are brilliant. Whether you are a retailer, technology company, church, or politician you can’t forget about youth if you want to compete and stay relevant long term.
- A few ways you can market to children
- Children’s menus
- Seating area for children
- Play area for children
- Carts for children to push around your store, or ride in
- Those gumball machines at the “choke points” in every store, the entrance/exit
- Free cookies or goodies. Give away a cookie but mom and dad have to go into the department to get it which usually leads to them looking for other goodies for themselves which aren’t free. It is the drug dealer tactic, I’ll give you this one for free and I know you will want more
- DVDs that come with toys which has taught Tyler all about “Imaginex”
- Candy and toys in the checkstands
- Don’t forget about your employees either. Daycare at your facility while mom or dad are working is one of the best ways to retain talent. Lunch with the kid(s) increases work/life balance, even if it is just for an hour.
What are some other strategies you’ve seen? Any other ideas or thoughts?