Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What I learned from a Seattle Sunbreak

I learned a lot yesterday.

Here in Seattle we had a rare occurrence. A day of glorious sunshine in April. After several months of grey, Seattle residents become euphoric at the first sign of a huge yellow spherical object in the sky, and head for the outdoor bars, beaches, parks etc.

Jeff Nitta, Treasurer of Weyerhaeuser Corp, and Ivan Braiker, CEO of Hipcricket compare notes at a Cheese & Wine evening at the Center for Energizing Leadership, April 29, 2014

Great news for everyone. Unless you planned an indoor marketing event for that evening!

My predicament
Coincidentally, that evening, the Center for Energizing Leadership was holding the first in a series of Cheese and Wine events put on for the purpose of educating the market about our innovative Energy Cabinet program. The big idea is an Energizing Leadership Development program for accomplished entrepreneurs that converts into a New Business Incubator.

Our initial event was “sold out”.  As soon as I saw the early morning sun, I knew that the event would experience many no-shows. 

Where to turn for advice
I related this concern to my work-out buddies at the local LA Fitness.  

Immediately, one of the most seasoned of the group, an elderly retiree (with a general phobia towards new technology) told me that this was a “good” thing.  Say what? He pointed out that any prospect who failed to show up due to a "Seattle sunbreak" was unlikely to be a good prospect to join an Energy Cabinet. He told me to think about the time I would save, by not wasting time with “flaky” prospects.

The outcome
So what happened later that evening?

Kara Hamilton, Smartsheet Inc; Jennifer Olsen, Resourceful HR; Amy Allen, Morgan Stanley enjoy meeting each other at the Center for Energizing Leadership's Cheese & Wine Evening, April 29, 2014

As I had feared, several people were no-shows. But overall, we had an excellent turnout of quality CEOs and senior executives. Due to the reduced numbers I was able to spend quality time with the right prospects.

What I learned
So what did I learn? Three points worth sharing:
  •          Although I am an optimist by nature, sometimes it takes a third party to point out that you can view the same set of circumstances through “a glass half-full” lens or “a glass half-empty” lens.  
  •         Just because someone is computer illiterate doesn’t mean they are not business savvy.  There is a great deal of untapped wisdom among our grey-haired retired friends.
  •       Don’t be afraid to share predicaments with others. Sometimes the wisest advice comes from the most unlikely sources in the most unlikely places.

My other take-away was that when it comes to marketing events, quality of prospects is far more important than the quantity.  The Energy Cabinet program is a winner. Those leaders who attended quickly grasped the concept.  Due to the unexpected Seattle sunbreak we had the right people in the room!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Secret Sauce For Energizing Leadership?

Dear Chief Energy Officer,

I’v heard you emphasize the importance of personal mastery recently. Can you please explain why its one of the 'secret sauces' of energizing leadership.

John H, CEO, Seattle, WA

Dear John H,
According to MIT’s Peter Senge, the author of the Fifth Discipline, “Personal mastery is a discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively”

Personal mastery means knowing yourself completely and accepting yourself deeply so you think, feel and act from a grounded, integrated center.

Personal mastery builds integrity, authenticity and confidence in a leader. It opens them up to clearer vision and more decisive action. It's experienced as personal power which leads others to trust and be inspired to follow. It motivates those around you to produce their best. What starts on the inside, produces outstanding results when the rubber hits the road in the business world.

At the Center for Energizing Leadership, we've seen that personal mastery provides a solid foundation for great leadership development. This is because energizing leadership comes from who we are, not just what we do. Enduring change happens from the inside out.  It is based on knowledge and self-acceptance. We believe that real, lasting, powerful change happens when a leader's inner foundation is strong.

In my experience working with dozens of leaders of businesses, the decision to take the path toward personal mastery brings immediate positive changes in leadership behavior, and business performance.

In other words, personal mastery is one of the key foundations on the way to energizing leadership. This is why we teach it in the first few sessions of our Energy Cabinet program. It’s important because ultimately personal mastery can lift your leadership to its full potential.

Best regards,

Please keep your questions coming to

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Will Sir Alex Ferguson teach the Moyes Case-Study at Harvard?

I've really had a terrible soccer season, watching Manchester United plummet from its perennial Champions berth, to the ice-cold, murky depths of 7th place in the English Premier League. Therefore, today's announcement of the firing of its head coach , David Moyes, a man who prior to joining the Champions at the start of the season had specialized in 7th place finishes, comes as a great relief.  

Having suffered, its some consolation to know that my pain was not in vain, as already the business press are chronicling the disaster, and memorializing it in Case Study format. Here's one I just ran across in Forbes magazine written by Andy Cave. Maybe Sir Alex Ferguson will be teaching it when he assumes his new position at Harvard.

10 Leadership Lessons From Manchester United's Hiring And Firing Of David Moyes

                                                                  David Moyes

1) Don’t change the two most important people in the organisation at the same time

Sir Alex Ferguson had been manager of Manchester United for 27 years and David Gill had racked up a decade as chief executive when the duo stepped down last summer. For manager and chief executive at a football club, read chief executive and chairman at a publicly listed company. Allowing both to leave at the same time is dangerous, particularly when their combined leadership has been so successful. Where was the succession planning that didn’t let that happen? And what happened to the board’s oversight of the career decisions of its two most important executives? How many companies have lost their chairman and chief executive at exactly the same time and replaced both with great success?

2) Don’t let the last business leader choose the next one?

Sir Alex Ferguson imposed what some observers have described as a “Stalin-like grip” on Manchester United during his 27 years in charge. Very little, it is said, happened without either his direct say-so or tacit approval. But allowing the man who has had a stand named after him and a statue erected at the club’s Old Trafford stadium to effectively nominate his replacement as manager brought personal emotion, ego and self-interest into the succession, when it should have been a rational, well thought-out collective board decision. Who on the board would have dared to shoot down the suggestion of the club’s most successful manager ever? Ferguson was allowed to become much too important during his reign at the top. How many departing chief executives are allowed to select their successors?

3) Groom successors from within when you have a winning team

Ferguson’s biggest failing perhaps was not grooming a potential successor. Maybe that’s a pitfall of having a domineering, win-at-all-costs personality. But some of the most successful leadership at winning companies has taken more of a team-based approach, generating a cadre of capable lieutenants who have gone on to follow them as well as taking the helm at other companies. Groups including Procter & Gamble PG -0.37%, Dixons, Asda and the former menswear chain Burtons have served as prodigious academies of management talent. And in British football three of the 19 other managers in the Premier League served as players and/or backroom staff under Ferguson, demonstrating that the talent to groom at hand was indeed available.

4) Keep the most important support staff intact when the top jobs change

David Moyes entered the lions’ den when he took the manager’s job at Manchester United. The previous manager had won everything there was to win in a glittering career; the top players’ medal cabinets were stuffed full too. Having never won a major trophy himself as a manager, he had an instant credibility gap and needed wise heads around him who had the benefit of having been around in the glory years. Instead, he replaced the entire top coaching staff, bringing in the team that had served him at Everton. While this might have been seen as asserting his authority at the time, it left Moyes unsupported within the club and deprived the club of vital experience, know-how and continuity.

5) Appoint someone big enough for the job

Moyes has never won a major trophy as a football manager and yet he was expected to deliver more or less instantly at a club whose previous manager had won 13 Premier League titles and two European Champions Leagues. As if this was not mission impossible, his body language, demeanour and communications with the media suggested almost from the outset that he did not feel that he was up to the task.

6) Get the cultural fit right

The history of an organisation is an irrevocable part of what it is. It is almost impossible to imagine Apple AAPL -0.17% as a company full of conformists or General Electric GE +0.34% as recklessly-managed. Similarly in football, Manchester United’s history and reputation is as a dynamic and romantic team full of derring-do, adventure and attacking style. From the youthful exuberance of the “Busby Babes” in the 1950s to the swagger and pomp of Best, Charlton and Law in their prime, the club has developed a “United way”. Ferguson, a self-confessed sporting gambler, stuck to those principles. However, while Moyes spoke about a strong youth policy and the club’s fine reputation for attacking football, his actions and strategies did not match his words.

7) Manage the management’s communication

Moyes had no choice but to take the microphone after every defeat – the broadcasting contracts governing British Premier League football stipulate that the team managers are interviewed after every game. Moyes, following a master media manipulator in Ferguson, could not be expected to have his predecessor’s touch in this department. Honest and decent in his public utterances, he nonetheless needed support from his backroom staff and senior players and directors. The club’s media team could have taken a much more active role in protecting Moyes, presenting a collective front and showing support to a manager who was always going to have a tricky first year in following a legend.

8) Be decisive. Know when it’s the right time to stop the rot.

Prior to Moyes’s departure, United had a reputation for giving managers time to build teams, in contrast to some of the rapid firings seen at other top teams in the UK and Europe. Yet, it was clear that Moyes had lost the dressing room, while his comments after the team’s final performance under his management demonstrated that he didn’t have the long-term vision required.

9) Don’t let the news leak

Once the decision is made, make the announcement. Some of the momentum gained from the decisiveness United’s owners showed with their judgment that enough was enough was lost by widespread reports the day before that made Moyes’ sacking the worst-kept secret in British football. Nearly all Britain’s national newspapers led their sports pages with the news that Moyes was to be sacked, before it had been announced. While United’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange governs the timing of price-sensitive news, the leaking of the dismissal led to speculation about compensation, replacements and club strategy, when the focus could have been on a new beginning.

10) Have a credible new plan.

When an instant fix is neither credible nor desirable, at least have a plan, a process and steady temporary leadership. Appointing Ryan Giggs, United’s most decorated player in the club’s history, to take charge on a temporary basis, restores some respect to the fallen champions. Giggs is adored by fans, respected by the players and hugely liked by the sports media. With so much of the past leadership having departed, his is an obvious temporary appointment to try to arrest the team’s slide and provide some stability. Few companies, however, are likely to have somebody with his attributes waiting ready in the wings.

David Moyes is clearly an early candidate for Most De-Energizing leader of 2014. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Center for Energizing Leadership's April Newsletter Published

Center for Energizing Leadership
Newsletter April, 2014 - In This Issue:
Are You A Full Metal Jacket Style Leader?
Does Speaking in Public Make You Tense?
What's The Buzz about Energy Cabinets?

Are You A Full Metal Jacket Style Leader?
Time to retire Gunnery Sergeant Hartman as the poster-child for leadership.

When you think about energizing leaders, you don't instinctively think about officers in the US Military. On the contrary, I usually flash back to images of Gunnery Sergeant Hartmanin Stanley Kubrik's Full Metal Jacket, for a stereotype involving a boot-camp sergeant inspiring his men through the use of hard-edged and somewhat Draconian tactics.
Therefore, it was somewhat of a surprise to find being empathetic listed as a key leadership trait included in the published memoir of retired four-star General Stanley A McChrystal.... a man best known for his disparaging remarks about Vice President Joe Biden. Read more in Energizing Leader .

Does Speaking in Public Make You Tense?

Chances are, speaking in public puts a knot in your stomach. In fact, public speaking beats out death when it comes to being America's number one fear according to the Wall Street Journal. But there is a cure!

Of course, it doesn't take being a key-note speaker in a huge auditorium to get the butterflies going. Did you know that millions of Americans become nervous even when they have to make a work presentation to a small group of people? This is surprisingly common and at one time or another affected many of the people we have come to think of as confident presenters. Even Warren Buffet admits to having been a nervous presenter before he took a class on how to speak in public. So don't worry. There is a cure, and you can find it at the Center's popular workshop on Effective Presentations. It works!

What's All the Buzz about Energy Cabinets?

Find out at a Complimentary Cheese & Wine evening

Learn all about the Center's acclaimed Energy Cabinet program by attending a complimentary Cheese & Wine evening on April 29 and on other dates in early May, Jonathan Copley the Center's Founder will give a mini-presentation titled, Secrets of the Energy Cabinet. Other members of faculty will also be present to meet our guests.

Each session is limited to no more than 8 guests...(tickets for the May 6 and May 8 sessions are Sold Out.)  

You can register for your free tickets at EVENTBRITE.
Newsletter of the Center for Energizing Leadership
Editor: Jonathan Copley   

Visit the Center online at   

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An Intriguing Opportunity for Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives

An Intriguing Opportunity 

for Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives

Center for Energizing Leadership

Weekly Event - Every Tuesday & Thursday: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (PDT)

Bellevue, WA

An Intriguing Opportunity for Entrepreneurs and Senior Execu...

Ticket Information

Center for Energizing Leadership: Cheese & Wine1 day before eventFree
Share An Intriguing Opportunity for Entrepreneurs and Senior Executives

Event Details

Jonathan Copley the founder of The Center for Energizing Leadership is hosting a Reception & Mini-Seminar to introduce its ground-breaking Energy Cabinet program.    

"Hanging out with negative people does not lead to a positive life."

Many people have achieved success despite being held back by energy-drainers.
Imagine what more they could achieve with a group of energizing peers.

That's why the Center for Energizing Leadership runs Energy Cabinets. Of course, according to participants, there are other reasons: 
  • Take part in a state-of-the-art leadership development program.
  • Earn "brain equity" by jointly creating new business ventures.
  • Access to 15 leading professional service firms in the Grow50 consortium.
  • Obtain a proven business and career mentor for personal coaching. 
  • Network with other CXOs, Directors, Partners, Owners, Entrepreneurs. 
To learn more about this innovative and energizing program, join us for an informational cheese & wine evening.

6305 160th Place SE, 
Bellevue, WA 98006

Parking is available at the location.
6:00 pm to 6:30 pm - Reception and Meet the Faculty
6:30 pm to 7:00 pm - Mini-Seminar: Secrets of the Energy Cabinet
7:00 pm to 8:00 pm - Q & A
Choose from one of these dates:

          Tuesday April 29 (Sold out)  Thursday May 1
          Tuesday May 6  (Sold out)       Thursday May 8  (Sold out)
          Tuesday May 13        Thursday May 15
How to Register
Each session is limited to no more than 8 guests. Registration is required through Eventbrite.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Goodbye to the Full Metal Jacket leadership style Sergeant Hartmann
Move over Sergeant Harman, you're no longer the face of US Military Leadership style
When you think about energizing leaders, you don’t instinctively think about officers in the US Military. On the contrary, I usually flash back to images of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Stanley Kubrik’s Full Metal Jacket for a stereotype involving a boot camp sergeant inspiring his men through the use of hard-edged and somewhat Draconian tactics.

Therefore, it was somewhat of a surprise to find the ideas on leadership included in the the recently published memoir of one-time four-star General Stanley A McChrystal

Center for Energizing Leadership
Former 4 Star General Stanley A McChrystal

You may recall, General McChrystal was doing fine until he apparently got suckered into giving an interview with Rolling Stone, which ultimately became his personal Waterloo

Following unflattering remarks about Vice President Joe Biden and other administration officials attributed to McChrystal and his aides in that Rolling Stone article, McChrystal was recalled to Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama accepted his resignation as commander in Afghanistan.

Here is a good summary of the wisdom about leadership in his book…(prepared by Farnam Street Blog)

He starts off with a statement that is right on point and too little understood. If it was better understood, there is no doubt that many medium sized organizations that aspire further growth would dramatically increase their investment in leadership development. But its point six...about leaders being empathetic that caught me off guard. Empathy was certainly a skill that the bullying Sergeant Hartman could not claim on his Linked-in profile.

1. Leadership is the single biggest reason for success or failure.

So, after a lifetime, what had I learned about leadership? Probably not enough. But I saw enough for me to believe it was the single biggest reason organizations succeeded or failed. It dwarfed numbers, technology, ideology, and historical forces in determining the outcome of events. I used to tell junior leaders that the nine otherwise identical parachute infantry battalions of the 82nd Airborne Division ranged widely in effectiveness, the disparity almost entirely a function of leadership.

“Switch just two people— the battalion commander and command sergeant major—from the best battalion with those of the worst, and within ninety days the relative effectiveness of the battalions will have switched as well,” I’d say. I still believe I was correct.

2. Leadership is difficult to measure.

Yet leadership is difficult to measure and often difficult even to adequately describe. I lack the academic bona fides to provide a scholarly analysis of leadership and human behavior. So I’ll simply relate what, after a lifetime of being led and learning to lead, I’ve concluded.

Leadership is the art of influencing others. It differs from giving a simple order or managing in that it shapes the longer-term attitudes and behavior of individuals and groups. George Washington’s tattered army persisted to ultimate victory. Those troops displayed the kind of effort that can never be ordered— only evoked. Effective leaders stir an intangible but very real desire inside people. That drive can be reflected in extraordinary courage, selfless sacrifice, and commitment.

3. Leadership is neither good nor evil.

We like to equate leaders with values we admire, but the two can be separate and distinct. Self-serving or evil intent motivated some of the most effective leaders I saw, like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In the end, leadership is a skill that can be used like any other, but with far greater effect.

4. Leaders take us to where we’d otherwise not go.

Although Englishmen rushing into the breach behind Henry V is a familiar image, leaders whose personal example or patient persuasion causes dramatic changes in otherwise inertia-bound organizations or societies are far more significant. The teacher who awakens and encourages in students a sense of possibility and responsibility is, to me, the ultimate leader.

5. Success is rarely the work of a single leader.

… leaders work best in partnership with other leaders. In Iraq in 2004, I received specific direction to track Zarqawi and bring him to justice. But it was the collaboration of leaders below me, inside TF 714, that built the teams, relentlessly hunted, and ultimately destroyed his lethal network.

6. Leaders are empathetic.

The best leaders I’ve seen have an uncanny ability to understand, empathize, and communicate with those they lead. They need not agree or share the same background or status in society as their followers, but they understand their hopes, fears, and passions. Great leaders intuitively sense, or simply ask, how people feel and what resonates with them. At their worst, demigods like Adolf Hitler manipulate the passions of frustrated populations into misguided forces. But empathy can be remarkably positive when a Nelson Mandela reshapes and redirects the energy of a movement away from violence and into constructive nation-building.

7. Leadership is not popularity.

For soldiers, the choice between popularity and effectiveness is ultimately no choice at all. Soldiers want to win; their survival depends upon it. They will accept, and even take pride in, the quirks and shortcomings of a leader if they believe he or she can produce success.

8. The best leaders are genuine.

I found soldiers would tolerate my being less of a leader than I hoped to be, but they would not forgive me being less than I claimed to be. Simple honesty matters.

9. Leaders can be found at any rank and at any age.

I often found myself led by soldiers many levels junior to me, and I was the better for it. Deferring to the expertise and skills of the leader best suited to any given situation requires enough self-confidence to subjugate one’s ego, but it signals a strong respect for the people with whom one serves.

10. Charisma is not leadership.

Personal gifts like intellect or charisma help. But neither are required nor enough to be a leader.

Physical appearance, poise, and outward self-confidence can be confused with leadership—for a time. I saw many new lieutenants arrive to battalions and fail to live up to the expectations their handsome, broad-shouldered look generated. Conversely, I saw others overcome the initial doubts created by small stature or a squeaky voice. It took time and enough interaction with followers, but performance usually became more important than the advantages of innate traits.

Later in my career, I encountered some figures who had learned to leverage superficial gifts so effectively that they appeared to be better leaders than they were. It took me some time and interaction —often under the pressure of difficult situations—before I could determine whether they possessed those bedrock skills and qualities that infantry platoons would seek to find and assess in young sergeants and lieutenants. Modern media exacerbate the challenge of sorting reality from orchestrated perception.

11. Leaders walk a fine line between self-confidence and humility.

Soldiers want leaders who are sure of their ability to lead the team to success but humble enough to recognize their limitations. I learned that it was better to admit ignorance or fear than to display false knowledge or bravado. And candidly admitting doubts or difficulties is key to building confidence in your honesty. But expressing doubts and confidence is a delicate balance. When things look their worst, followers look to the leader for reassurance that they can and will succeed.

12. People are born; leaders are made.

I was born the son of a leader with a clear path to a profession of leadership. But whatever leadership I later possessed, I learned from others. I grew up in a household of overt values, many of which hardened in me only as I matured. Although history fascinated me, and mentors surrounded me, the overall direction and key decisions of my life and career were rarely impacted by specific advice, or even a particularly relevant example I’d read or seen. I rarely wondered What would Nelson, Buford, Grant, or my father have done? But as I grew, I was increasingly aware of the guideposts and guardrails that leaders had set for me, often through their examples. The question became What kind of leader have I decided to be? Over time, decisions came easily against that standard, even when the consequences were grave.

13. Leaders are people, and people constantly change.

Even well into my career I was still figuring out what kind of leader I wanted to be. For many years I found myself bouncing between competing models of a hard-bitten taskmaster and a nurturing father figure— sometimes alternating within a relatively short time span. That could be tough on the people I led, and a bit unfair. They looked for and deserved steady, consistent leadership. When I failed to provide that, I gave conflicting messages that produced uncertainty and reduced the effectiveness of the team we were trying to create. As I got older, the swings between leadership styles were less pronounced and frequent as I learned the value of consistency. But even at the end I still wasn’t the leader I believed I should be.

14. Leaders are human.

They get tired, angry, and jealous

and carry the same range of emotions and frailties common to mankind. Most leaders periodically display them. The leaders I most admired were totally human but constantly strove to be the best humans they could be.

15. Leaders make mistakes, and they are often costly.

The first reflex is normally to deny the failure to themselves; the second is to hide it from others, because most leaders covet a reputation for infallibility. But it’s a fool’s dream and is inherently dishonest.

16. Leadership is a choice.

Rank, authority, and even responsibility can be inherited or assigned, whether or not an individual desires or deserves them. Even the mantle of leadership occasionally falls to people who haven’t sought it. But actually leading is different. A leader decides to accept responsibility for others in a way that assumes stewardship of their hopes, their dreams, and sometimes their very lives. It can be a crushing burden, but I found it an indescribable honor.

In the end, “there are few secrets to leadership.”

It is mostly just hard work. More than anything else it requires self-discipline. Colorful, charismatic characters often fascinate people, even soldiers. But over time, effectiveness is what counts. Those who lead most successfully do so while looking out for their followers’ welfare. Self-discipline manifests itself in countless ways. In a leader I see it as doing those things that should be done, even when they are unpleasant, inconvenient, or dangerous; and refraining from those that shouldn’t, even when they are pleasant, easy, or safe.

Yes, leadership is indeed a choice, which is why so many business executives need to start leading or get out of the way of the many talented professionals they hired for their expertise. Yet too often, it's indecision which causes business failure as the person supposed to be leading impedes progress. 

All in all, McCrystal makes some excellent, if not entirely new points. What is new for me is to discover that a Four-Star General in the US military espouse beliefs that would not be out of place in Annual Report of any US Corporation. Especially EMPATHY...the ability to personalize the feelings of others, ...particularly employees.  Because if a corporate leader is empathetic to his or her employees, they in turn are more likely to empathize with their customers, and that is a recipe for innovation and greater profitability. Time to say goodbye to the Full Metal Jacket leadership style both in the military and right here on the home front in the corner offices of Corporate America.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

10 Tips for Entrepreneurs of ALL ages.

Kyle Clayton the founder of Jack Rabbit Janitorial wrote this excellent article for linked-in. Arguably his only "mistake" was its title, which he aimed directly at young entrepreneurs, thereby effectively excluding the more seasoned among the entrepreneurial ranks. In reality 9 of his 10 tips apply to the growing legions of first time entrepreneurs who are not in their twenties. In any case, that group can also treat their age as an asset, pointing out to investors and potential customers how their other life experience make them well-suited for their particular venture

10 Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

I filed for my first limited liability company at age 23, still 2 years from graduating college. The company I had been working for ended up shutting down as a result of the recession and my school schedule prevented me from getting a “real” job. The decision to create my own source of employment didn’t come easy, but I had few other options. So, with a leap of faith,Jackrabbit Janitorial LLC was born, and by the time I accepted my diploma, I had created a full-time job for myself, eliminating the typical post-grad job hunt.
The last 6 years have taught me many valuable lessons in life and business. I now have a handful of businesses in different industries and a clear path for future growth and success. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned as a young entrepreneur.
1. Money is only the first obstacle. Capital may be the first hurdle you encounter, but it won’t be the last. Treat funding like any other obstacle, as surmountable and you’ll find that generating startup capital is easier than you thought.
2. Treat your age as an asset. I’ve participated in many meetings where I was the youngest person in the room. Youth gives us an advantage — a new perspective, and a new way of doing business. As young entrepreneurs, our first job is to market ourselves and the fresh viewpoints we offer.
3. Customer Service is everything. Growing a business comes from keeping clients satisfied and gaining new ones. It can be difficult to juggle the needs of a startup while delivering high-quality service, but service is paramount. Keep a laser-like focus on service, and the rest will fall into place.
4. Business isn’t personal. Handling conflicts professionally is a sign of a strong entrepreneur. It’s important to respect the boundaries of personal and professional, even when working with friends or people you know. In the event of a conflict, work on improving the business, and do what it takes to succeed.
5. Listen. Soak up as much advice as you can. The one thing young entrepreneurs don’t have is age. Recognize what you don’t know and who you might be able to learn it from while keeping your ears open at all times. Seek out advice, and be open-minded in trying others’ suggestions.
6. “The Market” is a big place. Competitors aren’t the enemy. In fact, they can be a great way to learn what’s working and what not to do in the development of your new venture. There is plenty of work for everyone, so keep focus on improving your product or service to compete for your rightful spot in the marketplace.
7. Customers aren’t always right. Be careful not to tailor your products or services too closely for any one customer. Your business is your vision, so shape your offerings based on your values and what you find enjoyable about being an entrepreneur. Customers will appreciate you for it.
8. Management takes guts. Being an effective manager takes life experience you may not have yet. Being fair, firm and consistent takes a lot of the guesswork out of developing policies within your company. Stick up for your vision, and don’t be afraid to change things, even if they’ve been a certain way for an extended period of time.
9. Act big. Entrepreneurs usually work from co-working spaces and home offices, so it’s easy to be casual with yourself and your employees. Planning, communicating and behaving like a big company will ensure your small company will get there one day.
10. Keep your momentum. Once you’ve proven your business model and some level of profitability, keep doing what your doing. Fast growth and shiny marketing plans can be tempting, but steady, stable growth is the key to long-term success.
Things won’t always go as you plan, but above all, trust yourself. Filter the advice of others, and do what feels best for you. A passionate belief in what you’re doing will take you farther than even the most precise business plan.