Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Don’t Say YES When You Want To Say NO by James Altucher

I so appreciate this article!  Saying, and hearing, “NO” is powerful!!!


No. N.O. If you run a business you have to say this word all day long, every day. “No.”

You might be reading this on a subway. Say, you’re taking the F train from Park Slope in Brooklyn to “hedge fund alley” on Park and 48th and you’re reading this article.

Don’t be embarrassed. Say “No” out loud. Don’t pay attention to the people sitting around you staring. You need to practice.

Ok…do it right now. Please.

Here’s an example. A few years ago, I’m sitting with a potential investor for the fund I was running at the time. I like this potential investor. He’s smart and knows other potential investors and most importantly, he enjoys my writing. We were closing a round on a fund on February 1.

He asks if he can come in on March 1 instead due to “liquidity issues”. (No). Well what about if he puts in money right now but with a reduced fee structure (No). Well, what about giving better redemption privileges instead of an annual lockup (No.)

Then he wants to tell me about these VC deals where his money is tied up (No. And note that this is a very difficult “No”. At the risk of making this parenthetical too long, it’s worth pointing out that everyone in this business likes to tell their “stories” and you MUST say No before they begin. The company that’s about to sign a deal with WalMart China to sell their patented iVacuums. The other company that has Donald Trump Swimwear that’s going to be the exclusive swimwear in every golf club in the country. Or the dental implants company that will revolutionize biting. The stories go on and on. The CEO put all of his mother’s money into the company. The new company that has the mineral rights to the largest coal excavation in Greater China. On and On. Just say no. But it’s hard because the stories begin quickly and you sort of have to hold your hands up and say, “oh yeah, I know that company. Please, I know it. Yeah, yeah, it’s that one. Yeah. Great. Yeah. No. No.”).

But that’s not all. You not only have to say No a lot, you have to hear No a lot. This is much harder. You travel to Palm Beach to meet a high net worth investor and you go through your whole presentation before putting out your hand for an investment (No.)

You ask your administrator to reduce fees until you hit $100mm in assets. (No.) For fund of funds managers: asking one of your funds for a mid-month estimate (No. – equivalent response: “50-100 basis points, give or take.”) Also for fund of fund managers: can I have transparency into the portfolio (No.)

A friend of mine gave me advice: Its not you. Don’t take it personally when they say No.

Its their problem. Ask again tomorrow.

Which brings me to “maybe”.

If the market is down will you still have an up year?
(maybe). If the yield curve inverts will municipal bond funds be negative on the year? (maybe). Will you spend 150% of your time obsessing over your portfolio (maybe. But make the point that the portfolio is better off without you). Is alpha calculated by subtracting your beta times the S&P return from your return (maybe). Can you just take this one meeting with the company (maybe). Can you just take this one meeting with the fund manager who buys, and then flips, life insurance policies from elderly in critical care units (May-, actually, No). Do you want to go to my charity event’s dinner? (Maybe. But No.).

When I was a kid I used to sneak into my parent’s bookshelf and read the book, “Don’t say Yes when you want to say No” (there was a lot of sex stuff for a 10 year old).

Unfortunately I’ve forgotten all of the insightful material. I say Yes. Can I lower fees? (No problem). Can I take a meeting with the younger cousin who wants to start a new fund? (Absolutely). Do you want to invest in my company (Sure. How much?) I know you haven’t done this in 10 years but can you help me design my website? (Sure, let me take a look). How about we have lunch? (Just tell me when and where). Can you finish writing the book by August? (Is 300 pages ok?)
It’s tough to make money. The only way to avoid wasting time is to say No as much as possible. Give a dollar to charity every time you say No. Flush ten dollars down the toilet every time you say Yes.

My latest book ‘The Power of NO’ is now available in Amazon and at your nearest Barnes and Noble.



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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Entrepreneurism Is a Disease by Jeff Stibel


What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? Ask 100 people this question and you’ll get at least 100 different answers. Is an entrepreneur an inventor or a CEO? Is a small business owner an entrepreneur? Are they people who take wild risks or people who go to business school? Entrepreneurs could be all or none of those things. Entrepreneurs can’t be defined by their job titles, education, or even propensity for risk.

Instead, entrepreneurism should be thought of as a set of personality traits; worse than traits, they are symptoms of a disease. Maybe you can live a normal life with only one or two symptoms, but if you have a majority of the symptoms, you’ve got the disease. Having it myself, I can tell you two things with certainty: first, it’s not always a good thing and second, there is no cure.

Not that the media sees it that way. American culture in particular idolizes entrepreneurs. We’re fascinated by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson. Who wouldn’t want to be that successful, that powerful, that rich? The lure of fame and fortune attracts many, but there are a few problems with that line of thinking. First, fame and fortune is the exception, not the rule. Most new businesses fail. But more importantly, entrepreneurs don’t do what they do to make money. Instead, they do it because they can’t not do it. True entrepreneurs, the ones with the disease, love what they do to the point of obsession. They are accidental success stories, living with both a blessing and a curse.

Aspiring to be an entrepreneur is like aspiring to have a disease. In fact, in his book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America, psychologist John Gartner argues that entrepreneurs are actually hypomanic – which means that they are slightly manic without the nasty side effects of depression. The difference between mania and hypomania is that hypomania is mild enough that it usually doesn’t interfere with being able to maintain a job or have normal social relationships. But both mania and hypomania are diagnosable psychiatric conditions, and the characteristics are pronounced:

– Persistently elevated mood

– Inflated self-esteem

– Decreased need for sleep

– Flight of ideas or racing thoughts

– Increase in goal-directed activity

Entrepreneurs surely identify with this list, as many wake up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) bursting with energy from 1000 ideas they can’t wait to implement. There is a ton of advice out there for entrepreneurs about establishing a work-life balance. I could offer similar tips, but none of the true entrepreneurs—those affected by the disease—would pay any heed.

If this doesn’t sound like you, be grateful. If you’d like to make good money and achieve career success, I’d recommend the tried-and-true path: stay in school, get a degree, become a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. There’s nothing stopping you from having a successful and stable career, making a good living, and supporting your family. Admire entrepreneurs from afar, but don’t try to catch the disease and become one of them!


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Impress In Less Than 2 Minutes by James Caan

This is  a great article. I believe the best way to impress in less than 2 minutes is to focus always on the person you are trying to connect with.  In networking, it’s not about the immediate opportunity to have everyone know you, but for you to utilize the moment to sustain rapport and momentum in connecting and building relationships.   Yes, we must share what we do, not just who you are; however, it’s vitally important to be engaging in aligning your interests with like-minded individuals.  



Famously, the elevator pitch is that big chance you get to sell your company, product, service or even yourself in just one or two minutes.

This kind of opportunity won’t always arise – the biggest organisations in particular tend to use strict selection processes and procedures to choose their clients.

But that does not mean that the principle of the elevator pitch should be completely ignored or discarded. Thinking about how to deliver your message in an effective way that goes straight to the heart of the matter can be a very useful and rewarding exercise. Whether you’re going for a job interview or a client pitch, this can be of great value to you.

Here are a few principles to keep in mind.


In my experience too many pitches – whether they are ‘elevator’ style or presentations – get bogged down in overly complicated language or rely far too heavily on eye-catching graphics. There have been times when entrepreneurs pitched to me for investment and I had to stop them after a while because what they were saying wasn’t making any real sense. Some investors may let them continue in this manner and then turn them down, but I always believe in giving entrepreneurs a chance to show what they can do. Therefore I tell them to cut out the unnecessary jargon and tell me things in a business-like yet simple way. You want to sound professional but there are ways to do this without boring people.

Do your research

Keeping it simple should not be an excuse for not doing your research. Even if your elevator pitch is supposed to be short and snappy, you don’t want to get caught out afterwards with a question you don’t know the answer to. Be prepared and know who you are pitching to. As well as ensuring you are ready for any questions you may be asked afterwards, this means you can tailor your pitch to suit the audience.

Sell with subtlety

Remember that whilst an elevator pitch is a tool to sell the best aspects of you or your business, it doesn’t need to be aggressive or over the top. All you want to do is generate enough interest to pique their interest. Explain the essence of what you are pitching and then clearly demonstrate the differentiator. There should always be a unique selling point, or if you are going for a job interview, a clear value-add. This is basically your hook which will make or break the success of your elevator pitch.

Some people don’t really think about the concept of an elevator pitch until the opportunity comes along. But if you can set aside half an hour at some point and just think about what you would include in your elevator pitch, it can have huge benefits. If nothing else, it will allow you to take a step away and think about what sets you apart from the competition and what sort of image you want to project.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

What Your Linkedin Photo Says About You by James Caan

This article by James Caan was dead on the mark in regards to your LinkedIn profile. The lessons of tools should also be applied across all social media platforms.  Recently, I was contracted to work at a career consulting firm working with CEO’s, VP’s, and higher executive management that were displaced employees from major Fortune 500 companies.  It baffled me that many did not know, understand or comprehend the important and fundamental reference in personal brand development. One of my key elements while working at the career consulting firm was to assist and educate the candidates on the benefit of using LinkedIn to build and expand their network.  Upon working in Corporate America, many were very clueless on what to do with LinkedIn or better yet even knew what is was?  Even today, I found many of my colleagues and business associates are just as clueless.   In today’s society, personal branding starts with how you see yourself, thereafter, what you display on the internet aka social media.  What are you selling?  It’s imperative that we take a serious look on how we brand ourselves – this is what many employers, potential clients are researching, and making judgement. It does not take much to build your brand and maintain. My suggestion, keep it short, simple, engaging and be consistent.


Who’s looking at your LinkedIn profile picture? More people than you think.

I often write about the importance of developing and building your personal brand. This also means taking control of your personal and professional brand on the Internet. Some people have told me that not posting a photo on LinkedIn is a good thing because it helps avoid discrimination. But, if a company or a person is going to discriminate against you because of age, sex or race the discrimination will happen regardless once you come in for that interview. And that’s not the type of company you’d want to work for. You do however want to work for a company that looks at your whole package and all that you have to offer. A LinkedIn profile with a professional photo can make or break you.

On Twitter the message is less subtle, if don’t have a profile photo, you’re by default an ‘egg’. Meaning you haven’t hatched into the world of social media. On LinkedIn everyone is a ‘male silhouette’.

How Will You Personally Brand Yourself?

A complete LinkedIn profile speaks volumes about the person’s level of professionalism. A complete LinkedIn profile can indicate to recruiters that this person has the complete package. If someone who just graduated from university has a professional photo and completed profile, this would indicate to me this person is an up-and-comer and go-getter. These individuals get the importance of brand – essential to any role in any company.

Recognition and Power of Networking

Imagine meeting a recruiter at a large networking event. You impress them and months later you’re applying for a position at that company. Recruiters usually visit a candidate’s LinkedIn profile upon receiving thousands of CVs (80 percent of all recruiters do this). It could be that they visit your account and recognize you from the photo. You’re guaranteed that the recruiter will remember the personal connection you’ve established and chances are you’d get the invitation for the interview.

Is Your Photo Industry Appropriate?

This all goes back to branding. What do you want your potential employer to remember you by? At an interview you have to fit the part by acting and speaking the part. In this stage it comes down to do you look like you fit the part? For example, if you are involved in the field of government, it may be appropriate to have a professional photo of yourself with your countries flag in the background. If you work in construction, would a professional photo of you in a hard-hat make you look more the part? If you are in a creative industry – show your creativity and do something different with you photo. Or perhaps you may want to think about a physical location that speaks to your industry. Will you take your photo in front of Wall Street or Parliament?

The Risk of No Picture

Recruiters spend more time on profiles that have a photo. Why lose your audience’s attention so quickly? Think about it – most people move off of social media profiles without a picture. Don’t you? LinkedIn has said that entries in LinkedIn search results with photos beside them are seven times more likely to be clicked on than entries without photos.

Oh, Those Grainy-pixelated Photos

Another mistake candidates make is cropping an image of themselves out of an existing photo. This often will make the image appear very pixelated on LinkedIn. This shows that you didn’t take the time to brand yourself properly. If you can’t take the time to brand yourself, a recruiter may link that to the fact that you wouldn’t be able to brand the future company to your best ability. All employees are eventually brand ambassadors. Today there are hundreds of freelance sites from to Maximize your resources; freelancers are out there to help you with a professional headshot.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

The Three Words that can Ruin YOUR Career by Philip Blackett

Around this time three years ago, I was in the worst time of my life. I honestly didn’t think it could get any lower than this.

My home had been foreclosed, and I had no other choice but to move back with my parents in my hometown. I had run out of unemployment insurance after being laid off during the Great Recession.

My ego was badly bruised after I fell on my face starting my first business in real estate. I also lost my best friend to pancreatic cancer earlier that year. At this point, I was trying to keep my self esteem above water, even after getting phone calls of concern from family, friends, and former girlfriends. I was borderline depressed.

Three years later, to be in the position I am right now, is nothing short of a miracle.

Anyone who has gone through such a period of ups-and-downs to now being one month away from attending your dream school and embarking on a new adventure would be tempted to say three words.

Three words that I caution you NOT to say, for it could potentially ruin your career…

I Made It.

If you are part of a team effort that has accomplished a particular goal, you may say…

We Made It.

These words may sound harmless. I even like the songs that such artists as Drake and Jay-Z have recorded with these words. You may think that you owe it to yourself to celebrate, raise your arms up in victory and yell these three words at the top of your lungs.

I beg you not to do that. I won’t say these three words either.


The moment when you say “I Made It”, whether after receiving a promotion on the job, getting accepted into your dream school, or celebrating a win in the boardroom, is the moment that likely will lead you into complacency. What was once originally an hour of celebration and pats-on-the-back later can become months (or years) of resting on your laurels as if you’ve reached retirement, laying in your beach chair, hands behind your head, shades over your eyes, in cruise control for the rest of your life.

While you’re still celebrating the varsity football championship you won in 1979, others have moved on to the next challenge (and victory). It’s time to put that letter jacket in the closet (or frame it) and move on.

You should absolutely be proud of your achievements. However, unless you’re content with that being the capstone of your life, there’s a time to celebrate and a time to get busy again.

Here are three ways to get past “I Made It” mode when you succeed:

  1. Don’t say those three words. Instead, be grateful. Understand that you, more than likely, did not succeed on your own. I know I didn’t. There were many people that were divinely positioned in my life during my toughest moments to help me get back on my feet and make small steps to turn my life around. Celebrate with the people who helped you along the way and share your genuine appreciation for their time, support and sacrifices.
  2. Understand you have a target on your back now. Don’t get big-headed. Once the news is out about your great achievement, you are no longer “underground”. People know about you and what you’re doing, even though you don’t know them. Don’t let all the new (and extra) attention get to your head, for it may one day catch you offguard and cause you to lose what you worked so hard for. If you don’t believe me, ask the Miami Heat after winning the championship last year. Who won the NBA championship THIS year?
  3. Humble yourself to know you have MORE work to do. Begin again. Oftentimes, once we set a goal, we become focused on reaching it. After achieving that big promotion, set yourself another challenging goal to keep you grounded and driven to do even better than before. If you need a best practice, follow Matthew McConaughey’s example during his 2014 Oscars acceptance speech:

And to my hero, that’s who I chase. Now, when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say, “Who’s your hero?” And I said, “I don’t know, I’ve got to think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.” I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says, “Who’s your hero?” I said, “I thought about it. It’s me in 10 years.” So I turned 25. Ten years later, that same person comes to me and says, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “Not even close! No, no no!” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because my hero’s me at 35.”

So you see every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero’s always ten years away. I’m never going to be my hero. I’m not going to attain that. I know I’m not. And that’s just fine with me, because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing. — Matthew McConaughey

Who is your hero? Hopefully, it’s YOU 10 years from now. After my best friend passed three years ago, my hero is who I will be 10 years from now. Now, I have to work to become that, which will keep me busy for the next 10 years. No time for complacency here.

That’s what I want for you as well. Hopefully, this post inspires YOU to always be grateful for where you came from (and what you had overcome), refrain from being complacent, and keep chasing after the BEST future version of yourself, however long it takes to “reach” it.

As my friend Casey Gerald would say, as he did in his HBS Class Day speech earlier this year, let us begin (again).

Now it’s YOUR turn…

I want to hear from YOU. When have you felt tempted to say “I Made It” or “We Made It”? What did you do afterwards? Comment below and let me know.

— Philip Blackett

Are you on Twitter? If so, let’s connect & continue the conversation there too: @PhilipBlackett

If this post is of value to you, please share it with your connections so they can benefit too.

P.S. Want to learn the new adventure I’m embarking on to keep me pushing to become my own hero in 10 years, check this out.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

How to Answer the Most Common Question on LinkedIn, in your Interview and at Happy Hour by Philip Blackett

I don’t claim to be someone who knows everything. However, there is something that I feel pretty confident about.

Whether you are searching profiles to connect with on LinkedIn, being interviewed by a stranger to get accepted into college or to get hired, or networking with new colleagues at a happy hour, there is ONE question that I am sure comes up practically EVERY single time.
And I’m not talking about, “What’s your name?

It’s usually the question that follows that one. Since I assume that YOU already know how to answer the first question, I’ll move on to the second and, arguably, more important question.

It’s a question that oftentimes gets trite and sometimes boring answers in response. You get a really basic description of the person answering it. However, you could learn so much more about a person if we weren’t so lazy with our responses.

In my best Alex Trebek impression, the question is…

“What do you do?”

Because it’s such a simple question, many of us give a very simple answer to it, similar to when someone asks you “How are you doing?” and you automatically say “Good and you?

There isn’t much substance there. We didn’t learn anything about the other person.

When we are asked “What do you do?”, we respond with simple, lackluster answers like:

  • I am an architect.
  • I teach in elementary school.
  • I coach high school football.

Unless the profession itself interests you upon hearing the response, you might not be interested and may respond “Oh ok that’s cool” or “That’s interesting” and then move on to something (or someone) else in conversation.

How can you answer this question better?

Include a short BENEFIT of what you do that can be your quick 5-10 second “elevator speech”. This works especially at networking events, since you may not have 30 minutes to fully explain your resume like you may in an interview.

Make sure the benefit describes what you do where the other person has a better idea of WHAT you do, HOW you do it and the VALUE you bring to it.

Here’s a few examples…

Instead of responding, “I am an architect with Company X” like the majority of architects, say:

  • “I design eco-friendly buildings that add appeal to our city’s downtown area.”

If you are an elementary school teacher, you may be able to say:

  • “I show 2nd grade students how to use an iPad to complete their homework faster.”

Finally, if you’re a football coach, maybe you can say:

  • “I teach young men seven key principles about life with the help of a leather ball.”

Obviously, these three responses are much more interesting and more likely to have the other person wanting to learn more about YOU, which is the point when connecting with other people on LinkedIn, interviewing for a job, or meeting new people at a networking event.

Hopefully, this post challenges you to rethink how YOU answer the question “What do you do?” in a way that not only makes you more interesting to others in conversation but also shares the unique value that you bring that can be of service (and benefit) to other people.

Now it’s YOUR turn…

I want to hear from YOU. Whether you are a student or a professional, give me your 5-10 second benefit-driven elevator speech response to “What do you do?” so I better understand what you do and how well you do it. Comment below and let me know.

— Philip Blackett

Are you on Twitter? If so, let’s connect & continue the conversation there too: @PhilipBlackett

If this post is of value to you, please share it with your connections so they can benefit too.

P.S. Want to learn how I’m helping young people best answer this question (and others) so they can ACE their interviews this summer, watch this.

Image: Buzznet (Happy Birthday Will Ferrell – my favorite SNL comedian!)


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

The Entrepreneurial Journey Is Not for Everyone by Naomi Simson

This article hit home for me.  I became an entrepreneur very early on.  I always knew Corporate America was not my destiny career plantation.  However, becoming an entrepreneur I had to sacrifice many things, personally and professionally.  In the mist, I never set out to become an entrepreneur alone.  I always wanted someone to ride the journey with me. But I could not find a partner(s) who would take the same jump, have a fierce determination and be able to sacrifice.  Many people did not want to hustle. Many people wanted to be an overnight successful entrepreneur, but could not embrace and appreciate the hard work and time to put into growing a business.  After years of trying to find the right business partners, I had to make a tough decision to do things solo. I had to come to the realization that The Entrepreneurial Journey Is Not for Everyone.


This is me! This is my life! Taking one careful step after another, with a consistent smile, confidence and resilience (and all whilst being the brand and wearing red). Juggling much while focusing on a far distant vision. This life is not for everyone. You have to be a little bit crazy and have a very thick skin. Be prepared to live from hand to mouth and give your life to the ’cause’.

Years ago a fellow founder described being an entrepreneur as being like a clown punching bag: no matter what hits us we keep popping up, with a big smile on our face. I asked him once, “What happens if I just don’t get up one time?” He responded: “Well you wouldn’t be an entrepreneur then. That’s what it is to be an entrepreneur, we just keep going.”

Why are entrepreneurs so “revered” — is it this resilience in the face of defeat? Journalists clamor to break the story of the “next big start up,” “the overnight success story”… the reality is so far from this truth.

Most start ups remain small businesses. It is only a handful that truly scale and solve the problems of the world. Yet the public has a fascination with the idea of the rags to riches story. Founders as demi-gods. Maybe it is because people understand that precarious nature of what we do.

People often ask me about success, they want me to define “the one thing that created success for me.” The answer – hard work – just is not that interesting for most people. There are no short cuts; I could have just as easily fallen from the tight rope, but I haven’t. There are no guarantees.

The founder of tech startup 99 dresses shared vividly her experience of failure. Nikki Durkin wrote for

OVER 90 per cent of tech start-ups fail, but I never thought my baby, 99dresses, would be one of them.

If there is one thing that doing a start-up has taught me, its that I am much more resilient than I could have ever imagined…

Since then I’ve survived being stabbed in the back by cofounders, investment rounds falling through, massive technology f**kups that brought sales to a halt, visa problems, lack of money, lack of traction, lack of a team, hiring the wrong people, firing people I didn’t want to fire, lack of product-market fit, and everything else in between…

The start-up press glorifies hardship. They glorify the Airbnbs who sold breakfast cereal to survive, and then turned their idea into a multi-billion dollar business. You rarely hear the raw stories of start-ups that persevered but ultimately failed — the emotional roller coaster of the founders, and why their start-ups didn’t work out.

Here is my contribution to the cause: my story. This is what failure feels like. I hope it helps.”

I feel very fortunate the business I founded 13 years ago goes from strength to strength, but I did not do it alone. I have a business partner and a great CEO and leadership team. The businesses that I started before RedBalloon were not so successful, but I learned a lot from them. I feel tremendously grateful for the journey I am on. And as the business gets bigger and bigger, the tight rope I walk becomes less lonely.

I wrote the below as a reflection of my entrepreneurial journey to date — though I am still a long way from my destination.

Thank you to those people who:

Loved me, you made me believe in myself
Cared, you made me feel worthwhile
Shared their wisdom, you inspired me to learn
Laughed, you made my world fun
Listened, you made me feel loved
Challenged me, you made me play a bigger game
Said ‘no’ – you made me more determined.
Disliked me, you made me stronger

Thank you


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Lessons From LeBron On How to Become More Likable by Beth Kuhel

LeBron James surprised and thrilled his hometown fans in his choice to move back to his humble roots in Akron, Ohio to play for the Cavs. His bold decision generated unprecedented positive media coverage and gave an immediate booster shot to his personal brand. As the best basketball player on the NBA league and the most recognizable athlete on the globe, James’ revised decision could offer some useful career lessons on making a career change and on how to improve your reputation when you change your mind.

The front page of the WSJ cheered his return to Cleveland as a ‘second coming’ and James said that his relationship to Ohio was “bigger than basketball.” He admitted to the world that his departure from Cleveland was a mistake and he doesn’t hold a grudge for the slanderous attacks assailed at him by the Cavs owner and the fans he slighted. He learned from his experience in Miami how to be a “better player” and was true to his feelings about wanting to raise his children in the Midwest.

LeBron’s Revised Decision has Lessons for Business Owners and Employees Across All Industries:


If you admit to your mistakes and do it with sincerity it could demonstrate your confidence and your willingness to grow. James showed humility by publicly acknowledging that his choice was not an easy one because his wife and mom still felt spurned by fans who attacked him for his earlier choice to leave Cleveland. His decision to leave Miami and return to Cleveland was based on his firm belief that Northeast Ohio would be a good environment to raise his growing family. Regarding his sentiment towards those who ridiculed him for leaving-James said, “who am I to hold a grudge?” This statement makes him more likable as it shows he recognizes his own fallibility and his emotional maturity. In a subtle way James communicates to his fans that he too is imperfect and frailty and is lucky to have achieved the fame he has.


James acknowledged in a press release that he missed the town and the people who made him famous.

Don’t be Afraid to Change Your Mind

LeBron made a pivot in his career as swift as the ones he makes on the basketball court with his feet. He adeptly improved his image in Cleveland by being contrite. Based on his praise for Cleveland, the Cavs and his old fans and his expressing his need to have left in order to appreciate what he had, his fans now see a different side to “The King.” He now will be known not only for his exceptional gift as a basketball player but as a relatable, likable guy who cares about his family, appreciates his fans and remembers the place and the people who helped make him famous. There’s no shame in changing your mind. In fact, sometimes people will respect you more when you show accountability for your life choices.

Forgive Those Who Come Around

Let’s face it, most people who turn around and return to their previous employer may not be as well received as LeBron James. After all, he put Cleveland on the map for seven glorious years and in his departure Cleveland hit a real low in their basketball ranking. But the lesson everyone can learn from forgiving someone who made a reversal is that there is often more to gain in letting go of the past than to holding onto a poor situation. If the person has changed and has redeemed himself, you might stand to benefit more from giving him a second chance. Don’t stubbornly hold onto a position based on principle. Evaluate the situation and assess what the advantages could be for letting someone back into your firm (or into your life) if she really shows sincerity and is capable of making a contribution.

Don’t Burn Bridges

James’ PR agent did a brilliant job in assisting him with his career transition. His remarks were tactful-he expressed gratitude for his current employer and acknowledged his positive feelings about their city and the experience he had there. His favorable remarks allow him to move forward without burning any bridges.

James said he learned from his experience of living four years in Miami about how to be a better player and discovered what really mattered to him in life. LeBron equated his stint with the Miami Heat to a “college experience.”

“These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.” All of James’ comments show appreciation for his current employer. This approach could minimize hard feelings and limit the negative press around his leaving that could damage the good will attached to his name.

Lebron’s career change has been positively received in that he focused on ideas, which made him more relatable. He showed vulnerability and conviction for holding fast to his values which focused on giving back to his hometown and finishing his career in a place where his family could thrive. From this we could learn that you can always change your course if you realize there’s a better way or superior options that you might have overlooked earlier on.

There’s no shame in admitting you’ve made a mistake and in fact you might even gain more respect for taking ownership of your life choices. For those who consider holding onto a job or to a position fearing embarrassment or retribution, you may later regret not taking the risk to reach for the opportunity that is a better fit. There’s no glory in continuing on a path where you’re unfulfilled, stifled or unhappy in your personal life. In fact, changing your mind requires strong self-esteem and is sometimes necessary in order to find a more satisfying career and a place where you’ll feel more in your element. What’s right at one stage of your life may not be right for another stage. Learn from LeBron to be flexible and adaptable and hopefully you too will find others receptive to your new position. And above all, even if you’re the best in the world it takes time to become a champion and to build a winning team.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

3 Ways to Grow Your Social Media Brand by Sean Gardner

I participated in a social media panel at a conference back in 2011. After the discussion, a gentleman approached me and asked what I felt my social media brand was. Immediately, I told him “Inspiration, Information, Aspiration.” Why? Because when you are inspired to make a difference and informed about your options, that has a profound impact on your goals and aspirations. I uttered those words because I felt my content reflected it. That was the brand I had always set out to create.
Fast-forward to todayI am happy that I have not deviated from this. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal talked about the dark traits many use to rise through the ranks in the workplace. Traits like manipulation, narcissism, and antagonism are used more often than any of us care to acknowledge. And while they might be good for some, they have never been central to how I interact with anyone – online or off. Never.
I have always felt that the best way to leave a legacy I could be proud of, is to genuinely be the best version of myself. Yes, I surround myself with good people, and make a point of knowing who supports me in my endeavors. But it goes much, much farther than that. The following three approaches have seriously helped me grow and expand my social media brand over the last five years:
  • Take the long view – In a fast paced world, it is understandable that so many would want personal success right now, this very minute. But it typically doesn’t work that way. It takes years of networking, developing your talents into skills, some breaks, and tremendous sacrifice that most people will never see. I attended small events and blogged quite a bit to get some traction. But my big break was an interview with U.S. Olympian Apolo Ohno (my first front page Huffington Post article). And paying clients soon followed. It was quite a process to that point, and I am better for going through it.
  • Dare to be different – You will hear lots of people tell you that you shouldn’t use more than two hashtags in a social media post, or, that you should never schedule (or automate) posts under any circumstances. For years, I have done just the opposite of that. Hashtags are an important way to communicate your point and reach particular audiences, so yes, sometimes I use three, or even four. And let me say this: scheduling posts from time to time makes sense. Think about it. If money can work for bankers throughout the day, why can’t occasional scheduled posts on Twitter, Google Plus, and, Facebook pages do the same? Social media is international currency. Invest well.
  • Help others along the way – Throughout 2009 (my first year in social media), I was assisted by people who were gracious enough to help me understand a particular social network, a new app, or an analytics platform. It really made the difference. So I try to give that back to others whenever I can. As I always say, social media is a bridge, and every retweet, repin, like, and +1 of your work are the bricks that construct the pathway you’re walking on. So when you reach the top, don’t block or close off the entrance for people coming up behind you. Be known for helping others thrive. It’s a good feeling. Besides, you never know where you’ll be tomorrow, and who might be able to help you.
Whatever brand you are looking to create, give it real thought, and then put it to the test. In the end, it is what you will be known for. Along the way, you’ll make lots of mistakes and miscalculations. And that is quite alright. Just pick yourself up and make the changes and enhancements that will take you to the next level.
I mentioned “Dare to be Different” in this post for a reason. You should never let the direction of the wind determine which way you should go. If you need to be Northwest, then let the wind continue moving Southeast. Following the wind, or the crowd, is cool sometimes, right? Yes. But don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail and standout, too. Make your brand irresistible. The words of John D. Rockefeller come to mind here:

If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.”

Sean Gardner is an international writer, keynote speaker, digital consultant and business creative who splits his time between Washington D.C. and Seattle, WA. He currently conducts workshops and social media training for small business, nonprofits, celebrities and multinational corporations. You can TweetFriend or Instagram him, and/or circle him onGoogle Plus.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

6 Essentials for Starting Your Own Business by Yael Kochman

1) Initiative: When getting ready to start your own business the most important thing is.. tostart! Things are less scary on the inside than they appear on the outside.

2) Focus: You’ll be surprised how many people would want to help out and give you advice out of their own experience! While this is great, keep in mind that their experience is simply that – their experience, and it does not reflect directly on you, your business and your situation. It is important to keep focused on your long term strategy and not jump from idea to idea even if that idea was suggested by someone you think very highly of.

3) Passion: It is important that you do something you really love and believe in. Building your own business can be very hard and you will sometimes find it hard to keep going, the only way to get through the hard times is to believe in what you do with every inch of your body.

4) Team: Know what you’re good at – but more importantly – know what you’re not. build a team around you that completes your capabilities so that together you will have a broader set of relevant skills.

5) Prioritization: Time is more expensive than money and having the right priorities is key. Today it is also relatively easy to outsource specific tasks without spending a lot of money, via online marketplaces such as Fiverr and oDesk. Use it! Don’t waste time trying to do something you do not understand when a professional can do it for you quickly.

6) Failure: The best way to learn is to fail. So fail. Then get up and do it again, this time do it better.


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