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Visionary founders, operators, and processors have to learn to work together to maximize the potential of your business.
Overemphasizing systems and processes can lead your business into a rut.
Les McKeown, founder of Predictable Success, outlines problems and solutions through every stage of a business.
After being sued by their former fraternity brother Reggie Brown, Snapchat's founders are fighting back.
There's never a dull moment for Snapchat's founders.
According to TechCrunch, founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy have filed a restraining order against Reggie Brown, the guy who claims to have who first developed the idea for Snapchat, which allows users to send photos and videos that disappear in seconds. Brown and Snapchat's founders are already embroiled in a legal dispute, with Brown suing his former classmates for his rights to an ownership stake in the startup.
During the course of the lawsuit, Brown has been leaking information to the press that the recent restraining order filing claims are confidential. The restraining order is apparently an attempt to keep him quiet. "The requested relief is necessary to prevent great or irreparable injury to Snapchat," the filing reads. "Snapchat has produced substantial amounts of commercially sensitive and private information in this case, including among other things highly confidential financial and investment information related to Snapchat's business [...]."
The filing goes on to say that on December 2, Brown's lawyers stated that unless Snapchat took legal action to protect its confidentiality agreements, Brown would continue to "assert a unilateral right to publicly disclose, without any notice or meet and confer, literally every scrap of confidential information designated by Snapchat." Brown has also promised an exclusive interview to GQ, according to the filing.
One major point of contention between both parties is a deposition video that was leaked to Business Insider, in which Spiegel admits that Brown did conceive of the disappearing photos ideas and that he "may deserve something for some of his contributions," none of which will help Spiegel's and Murphy's cause.
The drama is nothing short of Winklevossian. As you'll recall, the Winkevoss twins sued Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea for the social network that predated Facebook. That suit ended in the Winklevii walking away with a handsome settlement. Coincidentally, the brothers were represented by the law firm Quinn Emmanuel, the same firm now representing Snapchat.
Quick, someone alert Aaron Sorkin!
Here's how the wildly popular ViralNova crafts instantly clickable headlines and tips for business owners looking to get their messages before a wider audience.
Until recently, ViralNova, a site that's known for its wildly popular emotion-tugging headlines--such as "The Best Friendships Are The Least Likely Ones" and "This Gripped My Soul From The First Moment. And It Still Hasn’t Let Go…Wow"--has been a bit of a mystery.
Not only has the secret sauce behind writing instantly clickable headlines been a curiosity for marketers and entrepreneurs alike, the person behind the site has long been unknown. Last week however, Atlantic Media's The Wire, revealed that the man behind the skyrocketing website is Scott DeLong, a 31-year-old web developer based in Ohio.
It's good to demystify the source of those killer headlines, naturally. But we're most curious about the site's success--and how, if possible, business owners might similarly bottle lightning.
So what's his secret?
DeLong’s blunt and personal headlines are inspired by the late John Caples’ ad entitled, "They laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano but When I Started to Play!" Caples, a direct marketing expert, wrote the headline in the hopes of attracting students to the U.S. School of Music in the 1920’s.
DeLong told Business Insider that the ad is framed on his desk and he looks at it every day. “I think it’s the most perfect headline ever written, and those same psychological reasons for that working is why ViralNova is, so far, working today," he told Business Insider.
Here are two reasons why this nearly century old headline served as inspiration for DeLong, and might also be instructive for business owners:
1. When you look at the ad, you immediately want to know what happens when the man illustrated starts to play. You also want to know why the audience was laughing in the first place. Caples was trying to attract music students with the headline and encourage them to go beyond reading the text included in the ad, and also become interested in playing a new instrument.
Business owners can use the combination of teaser and an inspirational message, to first attract new customers, but then encourage them to become voices of their brands. More than ever, businesses are involving customers in decision making by crowdsourcing, testing products in beta and spurring conversation through social media. Entrepreneurs must go beyond attraction, and offer inspiration to customers so they become advocates too.
2. Understanding why the man receives a satisfying response to playing the piano is alluring to readers. They want to know why he felt good because it might make them feel good too.
With search engines personalizing almost everything people view online,customers expect to reap emotional gain from most ads they engage in. Entrepreneurs must learn to connect their business to a larger meaning in order to strike a chord with customers and leave them with a lasting impression. That's the hard part. Writing short, snappy headlines about that connection is something entrepreneurs can work on in the short term by brushing up on their writing skills.
The unlikely person who enlightened Jeremy Liew about one of the most popular apps among teens today.
It's a good thing Jeremy Liew met Barack Obama.
In March 2012, Liew's Facebook profile picture was of himself and the President. He didn't know it at the time, but that picture would help him land a crucial early stage investment.
Liew is a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, a firm with $2 billion under management. There are nine partners who lead startup deals in the United States. Only Liew and one other partner, Justin Caldbeck, hunt for startups in the crowded consumer technology space. And in March 2012, Liew had his eye on an app called Snapchat.
When Liew first found Snapchat, the disappearing photo app had fewer than 100,000 installs. Liew's partner had seen it on his teenage daughter's phone. She told her father there were only three apps high school kids were using: Angry Birds, Instagram, and Snapchat. Liew was familiar with the first two. But he had never heard of Snapchat.
The comment was enough to pique Liew's curiosity. He made it his mission to find out who was behind the mysterious app.
Liew did a Google search and came up dry. No articles had been written about Snapchat. There was no contact information on the startup's website except for a generic email address. Liew messaged it and heard nothing back. Liew looked up the company on LinkedIn and sent a message. Again, there was no response.
Determined, Liew did a WhoIs lookup on the domain name, Snapchat.com. It had been registered by Toyopa Group, the former parent company of Snapchat. Spiegel had named it after the street his father lived on, Toyopa Drive.
Liew did a Google search for Toyopa Group and found Evan Spiegel's name. He was a student at Stanford, where Liew had also gone to school. Liew was able to message him on Facebook through the Stanford alumni network.
When Liew sent the Facebook message, Spiegel finally replied. He wasn't looking to raise a round of financing; Liew was fine with that. Liew invited Spiegel to meet him at his office on the most famous street in the entrepreneurial world, Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park. A few feet to the left sits Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and Institutional Venture Partners. To the right sits Khosla Ventures.
Lightspeed's office is located on 2200 Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California.
During the meeting, Spiegel shared his vision for Snapchat. Facebook is a place where you can share superficial feelings with the world. It's for sharing times when you're happy, confident, and enjoying life. But what about all the other times when you're sad, feeling crazy or even depressed?
Spiegel felt there should be a place where intimate feelings could be expressed privately via fleeting messages. After all, true friendships are formed when people share both positive and negative experiences. And negative experiences can't be housed on a public, identifying platform like Facebook.
Spiegel's app hadn't been downloaded many times, but engagement metrics were strong. "People were using it like crazy and staying for a really long time," Liew recalls.
Eventually, Spiegel let Lightspeed invest in his company. It was the only investor in a $485,000 seed round, which Spiegel raised in May 2012. He was still three classes shy of graduating. Snapchat has since raised more than $120 million and it turned down a multi-billion-dollar acquisition offer from Facebook.
Liew later asked Spiegel why he returned the Facebook request and none of his other messages.
"It was because you had President Obama in your profile picture," Spiegel said.
"There's serendipity involved in all this stuff," Liew said, recalling that conversation.
But Liew's investments are based on much more skill than luck. His name is frequently mentioned in the Los Angeles startup scene, where a number of his early investments are panning out.
Whisper is another social app Liew found before other investors. Based in Santa Monica, Whisper lets users anonymously share secrets in a safe, supportive environment, like an open-source diary. Liew saw Whisper trending in the App Store and it fit his firm's investment thesis.
Liew emailed its founder, 26-year-old Michael Heyward, on a Monday. He said he'd be in town for a board meeting that Tuesday. By Wednesday, Liew convinced Heyward to meet with his partner. On Friday, Liew sent Heyward -- who hadn't been interested in raising a round of financing -- a term sheet. On Saturday, Liew flew back to Santa Monica and finalize the investment in Whisper. Lightspeed led its $3 million Series A round of financing.
Whisper now has millions of registered users. It has 80-times more content than there are Wikipedia pages. It has raised $25 million.
Liew also found ShoeDazzle, a once-buzzy startup run by Kim Kardashian and Brian Lee, early. Like Spiegel, Lee wasn't interested in meeting him. Lee told Liew that ShoeDazzle was profitable, so it didn't need venture capital.
"Eventually, I flew [uninvited] to LA and said, 'Hey, I'm here,'" Liew says.
Lee agreed to meet Liew for coffee. After months of leaning in, Lee let Lightspeed invest in ShoeDazzle.
Liew's Facebook profile picture from March 2012, which attracted Snapchat's Evan Spiegel
Liew's partner, Justin Caldbeck, is equally persistent. Caldbeck recently invested in a consumer startup that ignored his initial emails. Instead of taking "no" for an answer, Caldbeck showed up on the startup's doorstep with a plate full of cupcakes.
In addition to being persistent, Caldbeck and Liew are observant. If his partner hadn't been an engaged father, Liew might have missed Snapchat. With ShoeDazzle, Liew noticed a friend collecting pink boxes of shoes. He asked her what all the boxes were about; she told him they were Kim Kardashian's shoe-of-the-month club.
Liew and Caldbeck try to think differently about their investments. So while other VCs are looking right, they turn their heads a little to the left.
"When everyone is saying, 'We don't invest in this,' that's sometimes a good time to invest," says Liew. "You have to find a reason the conventional wisdom no longer applies."
Liew used the recent craze around e-commerce startups and the rise of Facebook's platform as an example.
"E-commerce startups shouldn't work," Liew says. "They don't have brand-names and they don't have scale, so their cost to acquire customers should be much higher and their lifetime value much lower than incumbents. The only time it makes sense to invest in e-commerce startups is when there's a new customer acquisition channel that's scalable. Startups are nimble enough to take advantage of the opportunity and grow to scale before the incumbents even notice. The first time that happened since Google paid search was when Facebook opened up its right rail to e-commerce companies and advertisers."
Startups like Gilt Groupe, LivingSocial, ShoeDazzle, Groupon, and Ruelala were able to scale their customer bases quickly and cheaply on the coattails of Facebook before larger brands caught on. Now that the Facebook channel is saturated with brands like Nordstrom and JC Penney, e-commerce startups can't rely on it for growth.
"Before Zulily, there hadn't been a $1 billion exit in e-commerce in 10-12 years," says Liew. "[Investors] who were saying, 'We don't invest in e-commerce startups' didn't realize something (Facebook's emergence as a cheap customer acquisition channel) had changed."
Snapchat and Whisper seem like obvious investments now. But when Lightspeed invested, most people assumed social startups had peaked. Facebook won the space, especially after it purchased Instagram. Instead of writing off social startups altogether, Liew's team tried to find entrepreneurs who were innovating in places where Facebook couldn't follow.
Facebook, Liew determined, is the journal of record for our real lives. By its nature, it needs to tie users to their real identities. It also aspires to host everything its users publish forever. That creates an opportunity for startups to host temporary content or to thrive on anonymity.
"If you flip Facebook's need for real IDs to anonymous accounts, then you get an app like Whisper," Liew says. "If you flip Facebook's need for permanence to impermanence, you get Snapchat."
Liew is constantly on the hunt for under-the-radar trends like that. One of his favorite resources is PageData. PageData shows which pages are trending on Facebook. While some trend because they're newsworthy (like Paul Walker's page following his sudden death), others hint at investment opportunities.
Last year, Liew noticed pages with memes, or text-and-picture content, were trending. When he saw Whisper and Snapchat, he realized those housed the same type of content. Sites like LOLCats and PerezHilton had been creating that type of content for years; Snapchat and Whisper were bringing the experience to mobile devices.
Now Liew is noticing publications like Viral Nova and Upworthy, which are driving rapid growth through social sharing. PolicyMic, a media startup that has quickly grown to 8 million monthly readers, is one of Liew's investments.
Liew is also interested in Bitcoin startups, as well as startups that are applying big data to financial services.
While Liew has invested in all kinds of consumer startups and entrepreneurs, there's something they have in common.
"We believed in the vision of each team, as well as the teams themselves," Liew says of his investments. "We were able to reach out to startups like Snapchat and Whisper and get to them quickly. Also, they were outside of the typical investment cycle."
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
New Yorker staff writer and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell talks to Inc.'s Issie Lapowsky about business lessons from his latest book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.
Malcolm Gladwell found inspiration for his new book by looking at stories of unexpected success.
To be 'disagreeable' means that you don't require the social approval of your peers to move ahead with disruptive ideas.
Winning as an underdog requires a team who will put in maximum effort and make great sacrifices.
Certain obstacles that seem undesirable at first may ultimately help you get ahead.
In some cases, investing too many resources can lead to negative returns.
There's a surprising upside to surviving adversity: it increases feelings of courage and confidence.
Malcolm Gladwell explains why the psychological effect of jumping into a highly competitive space too soon can be long-lasting.
Consider looking at a variety of qualities, including experience with failure, when making hiring decisions.
The questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to start your company.
As our Lean LaunchPad for Life Sciences class winds down, a good number of the 26 teams are trying to figure out whether they should go forward to turn their class project into a business.
Given that we’ve been emphasizing Evidence-based entrepreneurship and the Investment Readiness Level, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when someone asked, “After we figure all this data out, should we pursue our idea based on the numbers?”
I pointed out that the “data” you gather in 10 weeks (talking to 100+ customers, partners, payers, etc.,) are not the first thing you should look at. There are three more important things you should worry about.
(see 0:30 in the video below)
1. Do you want to spend the next 3 or 4 years of your life doing this?
(See 1:03 in the video below)
Now that you’ve gotten to know your potential channel and customers, regardless of how much money you’re going to make, will you enjoy working with these customers for the next 3 or 4 years?
One of the largest mistakes in my career was getting this wrong. I used to be in startups where I was dealing with engineers designing our microprocessors or selling supercomputers to research scientists solving really interesting technical problems. But in my next to last company, I got into the video game business.
My customers were 14-year old boys. (see 1:30 in the video) I hated them. It was a lifelong lesson that taught me to never start a business where you hate your customers. It never goes well. You don’t want to talk to them. You don’t want to do Customer Development with them. You just want them to go away. And in my case they did - they didn’t buy anything.
So you and your team need to feel comfortable being in this business with these customers.
2. Is this a scalable business? And if not, are you Ok with something small?
(See 2:03 in the video below)
Is it a lifestyle business while you’re keeping your other job? Is it a small business that hits $4 million in revenue in four years and $8 million in ten years? Or is it something that can grow to a size that will result in an acquisition or some liquidity event?
You need to decide what your personal goal is and how it matches what you think this business can grow into. And you and your cofounders need to have that discussion to make sure that all the co-founders’ interests are aligned - before you make any decision to start the company. If one of you are happy making $500K/year and the other has visions of selling the company to Roche for a billion dollars, you have very different goals. Without clear alignment, one or both of you will be really unhappy later when you try to make decisions.
3. If I Didn’t Make Any Money After 4 Years, Did I Still Have A Great Time?
(See 4:36 in the video below)
If your company fails, would you still say you had one hell of a ride? Founders don’t do startups because they’re searching for a huge financial windfall. They do it because it’s the greatest invention they can imagine. Most of the time you will fail. So if you’re not going to have a great time with your team and learn and build something you are truly excited about - don’t do it.
If you can’t see the video above, click here
- Do you want to spend the next 3 or 4 years of your life doing this business?
- Is this a scalable business? And if not, are you Ok with something small?
- If you didn’t make any money after 4 years, did you have a great time?
Some companies never enhance their brand. Here are nine ways to make sure you're not one of them.
In an effort to succeed in this challenging economy, small business owners must effectively manage their brands. Remember, for many of them, there is little difference between your personal brand and the brand of their business. This is especially true of the launch phase, when the old adage rings true: “People do business with people they know, like, and trust!” People also tend to do business with and purchase from brands they respect, that are consistent with their values, and make good on their promises.
Ideally your business has the makings of an iconic brand, with clear positioning and a strong promise. To make sure your business evolves on this path, focus on the nine Cs of Branding to stay at customers' top of mind.
Centered - Businesses with successful brands are focused. They have a definitive purpose and their values are clear. Even their goals are well-defined. As your business evolves, you may need to shift your brand positioning to ensure alignment with your message and your intent. Consider this: What are you trying to accomplish, and what position does your brand need to achieve your goals?
Clarify - Your message and image need to be crystal clear. As your brand and business evolve, it is critical to continue to hone and refine your messaging. Keep enhancing your unique selling proposition and drive differentiation so consumers know exactly what to expect.
Contribute - The popular saying, “givers gain,” has a lot of truth to it. The more you contribute to your world and community, the more you will gain in return. Define your brand's “give back” strategy and ensure it is aligned with your core customer base.
Connect - Always network with complementary brands, especially those that share your values and core client base. Be willing to create innovative strategies (like the marketing campaigns between Osh Kosh and Tide) in which both parties benefit and get customers excited and engaged.
Create Community - No business can be successful in a silo, so create a community of support and advocacy in your industry and target market. As a small business owner, it is also critical to create a community within your business. Be clear about the culture you want to create and manage your expansion and hiring to ensure those standards are met.
Exude Confidence - Confidence is built one step at a time. So start with where you are and with what you know now. You have a unique talent, skill, product, or service to bring to the world. Hone your skills and expand your leadership capability. What do you need to do to increase your confidence?
Be Congruent - Manage your business and brand so that everything you do (and that your business and brand are involved in) promote the same message. For example, if your brand is highly technical in nature, you may not want to connect your business (i.e. sponsor an event) to the arts like the ballet or symphony. Inconsistencies may cause your target market to become distracted.
Be Consistent - Make sure your product or service delivers consistently. A brand’s reputation takes a lifetime to build but can be destroyed in an instant. Reward your loyal customers and create consistent excitement about your brand’s offerings. Make sure that every day you and your teams are exceeding your personal standard of excellence.
Create Clout - Do everything in your power to create influence for your brand. Where appropriate, solicit relevant celebrity or cause endorsements. Connect your brand and business to activities that will raise your brand profile and exposure. Many view clout and influence as close “cousins," so make sure to use your personal connections and reputation are enhancing those of your brand.
Three reasons why Katniss Everdeen would dazzle as a CEO
I recently saw the second Hunger Games movie and, at the risk of sounding ridiculously melodramatic, it brought to mind my first four years of running The Grommet.
If you haven’t seen the film, here’s the full plot summary: teenager Katniss Everdeen is forced into a survival battle with 23 other unfortunate citizens of her futuristic dystopian world. Only one of the contestants will be left alive.
Here’s why her performance would make Katniss a good bet as a startup CEO:
1. Her ability to fake confidence in the face of fear. Gaining allies and patrons is a critical component of surviving the Hunger Games. Like the other contestants, Katniss had to demonstrate great physical skill, confidence, and mental cunning to recruit both co-combatants and donors. Similarly, as a startup CEO you are constantly “on stage” selling both your abilities and your vision to gain business partners, employees and investors. In a private moment with her best friend and hunting pal, fiercely defiant Katniss uncharacteristically admits to being “always afraid,” but that is an emotion she never, ever shows to either her enemies or her allies. She can’t afford to. As a startup CEO, you are in same position. You must always save those moments of paralyzing fear (that you are drinking your own Koolaid, that your business is a house of mirrors), for the quiet dark corners of the weekend when no one can see you. If you spray your fears and doubts around, you will quickly be alone. And all your nightmares will immediately come true, because you cannot win the startup game by yourself.
2. The fact that she never lets down her guard. Expecting death around every corner is the hallmark of Katniss’ experience. Similarly, in starting The Grommet I did not mentally rest for four years. I ate, slept, and breathed my business. Whether I was at a wedding, a family holiday dinner, or a weekend getaway, the invisible but demanding companion I always brought to any event was my business.
It meant I was rarely in the moment. I would miss huge plot points while watching a play. I would lose track of family dinner conversations. When I did that, my youngest son always said, “Oh, it looks like Mom is back in email land.” I once did a terribly punishing business trip to San Francisco, battling a bad cold and back-to back meetings for three days. On the first night, when I showed up to my friend’s house to sleep, I asked, “Carolyn, what route would I have taken to get here?” She told me I had driven over the Golden Gate Bridge. I had absolutely no recollection of doing that. I was too preoccupied with strategizing survival via those meetings.
I realized just how extreme that existence was a couple years ago when, requiring a routine medical procedure, I found myself looking forward to going under general anesthesia so I could get a few hours of real rest.
3. Her stamina in the face of physical and mental battles. I'll bet many people watching The Hunger Games imagine themselves being somehow smarter, faster, better than Katniss. But you can’t imagine what it's like to be her until you are actually in her shoes. It is the same with startup CEOs, particularly those of us who started in the depths of the economic crisis; we have known a set of challenges that are unfathomable to 99.9% of business people. So when your loving, caring friends tell you to take care of yourself, they can’t imagine that we see our existence as more like Katniss’s than theirs. They can’t know what it is like to take an 18-hour day trip to New York to deliver five high-energy investor pitches, or to run a board meeting the day after getting general anesthesia (yes, I did-;but that is not something I’d recommend).
That's not sustainable, of course, but in those frantic early years of too much work and too few resources you push your body and your mind to the absolute limits. That is what makes you “investable,” and someone that other people will follow. And that’s what makes Katniss more like a startup CEO than any other Hollywood character.
If you want to be better at marketing, add these books to your reading list.
A good marketer is one who never stops learning, and one of the best strategies for staying ahead of the pack is simple: read. I’ve put together a list of six marketing books that have influenced my thinking. If you need something to read during your upcoming time off or while in transit, try cracking one of these open and see what inspires you.
Every product marketer should read this book, or at least understand the key concepts. In particular, the section concerning the technology adoption lifecycle is extremely valuable. It maps out the differences between the five stages of technology adoption, starting with Innovators who “pursue new technology products aggressively,” and ending with Laggards who “simply don’t want anything to do with new technology.” Author Geoffrey Moore describes how product marketers should navigate through each of the five types. From there, the book delves into what it means to have a “whole product.” A “whole product” is the generic product that’s shipped to the customer plus “whatever else the customer needs” in order to come to a buying decision. That additional factor -- which includes support, training, plugins, and more -- has become the new standard for how we market disruptive products to mainstream customers.
This seminal book focuses on one of the most important trends in marketing today: content marketing. Readers learn what really constitutes “compelling” content, and how they can become successful at creating content that’s both enjoyable and valuable. Authors Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman reiterate the need to break away from the “marketing speak,” the type of language and messaging that isn’t relevant enough to connect with our customers. They lay out what it takes to build valuable relationships by creating and distributing content that’s highly relevant, sparks genuine customer devotion, and generates profitable customer action.
We all know that the marketing world is evolving. With easy access to online information, traditional forms of media are no longer the end-all be-all for disseminating our information to mass audiences. Put succinctly, the old rules no longer apply. In The New Rules of Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott (also the author of Newsjacking) explains how traditional PR tools -- press releases, hitting the phones with journalists -- are no longer the only route to earned media as contemporary information control is decentralized. Press releases bypass the media and go straight to consumers, and bloggers comment instantly on news. This book, now in its forth edition, is an excellent resource for learning how to build awareness and earn coverage in today’s world of ever-evolving social and mobile channels.
In today’s world, marketers are no longer measured solely by brand management, creativity, or promotional expertise. Instead, the modern marketer needs to use the financial language of business -- revenue, profit, and cash -- to demonstrate their impact on revenue. In doing so, they will earn their rightful seats at the revenue table. Authors Roy Young, Allen Weiss, and David Stewart discuss how to make marketing matter to your corporate leadership. Those leaders often see the marketing department merely as a cost center, and many organizations therefore underutilize their marketers. This book not only delves into how to manage your marketing efforts, but it also teaches readers the business language necessary to articulate how marketing’s efforts are helping the organization grow and meet strategic goals.
Revenue Disruption: Game-Changing Sales and Marketing Strategies to Accelerate Growth (Disclaimer: I helped write this one!)
Trends such as digital media, mobile devices and social networks have forever transformed the process of buying and selling. That shift has left B2B marketing and sales leaders struggling to keep up. In Revenue Disruption, Marketo CEO Phil Fernandez shows business leaders how to transform their revenue processes to unleash growth in today’s world. The book presents a breakthrough revenue performance management approach that completely rethinks traditional, outdated practices for B2B marketing and sales. With this new type of strategy, marketers can learn how to build a far more effective revenue process and transform their sales and marketing performance in order to disrupt the status quo.
Want next year to be amazing? Take action now. Here are seven actions for today that are sure to bring you joy and success in 2014.
Why shouldn't 2014 be your best year yet? It's a new start. Sure there will be challenges, but all in all things are moving along well enough for any smart person to take on the world, and achieve success and happiness.
Don't wait until the parties are done and the relatives have left to start readying for the joy and adventure that awaits you in less than 30 days. With a few simple actions you'll be ready to march into the New Year with purpose and resolve. Here is a list of things you can do right now to help make 2014 your greatest year ever.
1. Resolve any unfinished personal issues this month. If 2014 is going to be amazing you'll need to drive it forward in a focused manner. Unresolved issues sap energy and create distraction. Take action to resolve conflicts with people who support you. Look inward to determine where you are conflicted with yourself. Set time aside to consider, commit and be accountable for your real desires and the preferred future you deserve.
2. Take stock of all your opportunities. As soon as the year starts you'll likely get right into daily work patterns that went on hiatus during the holidays. If you are buried in the day to day you may gloss over great opportunities only visible from a high level. Use the holiday down time to reflect, and to make a list of every potential opportunity that can improve your life and business. You don't have to pursue every one and you may miss one or two, but the exercise will help you be alert when any on the list come your way.
3. List three obstacles you can reasonably eliminate. Many of life's obstacles aren't complicated or even difficult to overcome, but they do require focus and commitment. Start by honestly assessing 2013 to determine who or what got in the way of your success. Chances are a few of these same obstacles are threatening your happiness in 2014 as well. Pick three that you can work on over the next 90 days and get a jump on them. Start with the obstacles where you have the most control: your own bad habits.
4. List five people you are committed to meet. Somewhere out there are people who can help you. They may be role models, mentors, referral sources or even new partners. These people can help take your performance and rewards to a whole new level. The only reason they don't do it now is because you haven't built a relationship of mutual value. Fix that problem by identifying them and setting a plan to get a meeting. Think carefully about how that first interaction will make them want a relationship with you, and how you will prepare to present and deliver value.
5. Identify two important skills you'll begin to master. I am always happiest when I am learning. Mastering a challenging skill boosts confidence and creates a sense of accomplishment. Figure out a couple of new skills that will boost your profile and usefulness to those around you. Budget the time in 2014 to ensure you have the necessary hours to make it happen. Regardless of your position or business, self-improvement brings satisfaction and strength.
6. Schedule calendar time in January with those you value the most. Everyone is busy during the holidays. End-of-year commitments, holiday parties and travel to see family can all keep people from having quality one-on-one time. There are people in your life who bring you joy, learning and growth. Time with them is precious and sparse. Reach out to them today and get a January lunch on the calendar before year-end. You'll begin 2014 excited about your schedule and get the year going with a personal boost from those who love and support you the most.
7. Plan an Amazing New Year's Eve. There's a good reason New Year's Eve is the only holiday celebrated by nearly everyone on the same day world wide, regardless of nationality, race or religion. It is a celebration of new beginnings. Make it a special day. Whether you decide to join an iconic shared experience (here is my own Times Square event this year), spend a quiet evening with loved ones, or even have an introspective time alone, definitely mark the transition in a significant way so you can feel the excitement and joy of the new beginning.
Oh, and if you don't get to all of these tips before December 31st, go ahead and start them in January or as soon as you're able. Happiness doesn't actually require a calendar.
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