Business · Consultations · Public Relations

How to Take Control of Your Future by Joel Peterson

Wayne Gretzky, deemed by many to be the greatest hockey player ever, famously said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.”

Pretty obvious, huh? We’ve all looked for signs to tell us where the puck is heading. The problem is, while some trends predict the future, others are precursors to trend implosions – and others still are off the mark altogether. Deciphering the differences requires both wisdom and luck.

In these dynamic times, when innovation, disruption and technological advances increasingly lead us into an unrecognizable world, predicting the future from past trends is trickier than ever. The trend lines that pointed to Google, Apple and YouTube as obvious hits in retrospect also predicted certain success for Webvan, Groupon – or, for that matter, Betamax.

So what’s to be done? Are you doomed unless you happen to pick the right trend? Lucky for you, execution trumps trends, and great entrepreneurs can create their own future by doing the following:

1. Stay focused. Entrepreneurs who stumble are often lured by billion-dollar market opportunities and divert their attention away from their core business too soon. Instead, attract and retain loyal, paying customers in a defined niche first. You can branch out later. The best entrepreneurs are keyed into trends and new markets, but with an eye toward building lifetime customers, even recruiting them to help with the improvements. This may not initially feel like the quickest way to grow the business, but it’ll help you stay loyal to your priorities without distraction, and in the end, boost the odds of success.

2. Know that having a great culture is the ultimate competitive advantage.Create a great team and you’ll run a 400-meter race faster than you ever would on your own. But great people do not automatically mean a great culture. The founders, leaders and managers must be intentional about accomplishing that. Make sure everyone knows they’re respected members of a winning team where people are devoted to achieving a meaningful goal. Great hiring, training and a commitment to immediate feedback are key to this – as is thoughtful firing. Allowing people to stay who don’t fit in will drive off those who will help foster your success. People really don’t compromise their values in the long run. So be sure everyone on board has common beliefs around respect, integrity, trust and a shared vision for how to spend their time, money and energy.

3. Sell, sell, sell. Most young entrepreneurs are excited about product features, solving market problems and coming up with cool new ideas. But great businesses are not simply the wrapper or delivery system for great products or services. The successful ones devote time and energy to building their team and culture and put a special emphasis on sales. They have a product strategy, a lead generation and lead qualification plan and a clear approach to finding customers, closing sales and managing accounts. They recruit customers to help them refine their service or product and help them with the next sale.

4. Take a Goldilocks approach to raising capital. I learned long ago in the incredibly capital-intensive world of real estate that raising capital is the easy part. In the early stages, having the right capital – the right investors, in other words – is key. And having the right amount of capital is important, too. Raise too much, and you may lose focus, see diminished creativity and put yourself under too much pressure to deliver at an impossible pace. Raise too little, and you’ll spend your time on the treadmill of capital-raising rather than building the business. This means developing a thoughtful business plan with key milestones that precede the next capital raise.

5.Know when to get out of the way. Entrepreneurs are optimistic. They believe in themselves, in their vision and in the trends they have analyzed that make their ideas worthy. When they’re successful, the business will usually outgrow them and they’ll need to replace themselves. In most cases, entrepreneurs continue to do what they do best, read the trend lines and build the products and services that respond to them. The best ones are able to evolve, and either stay on or leave and then return in a different capacity. Think Jeff Bezos, Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Trends are important, but there’s more important stuff, much of which is under your influence. Abraham Lincoln wrote, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” And over a hundred years later, scientist Alan Kay tweaked Lincoln’s advice when he wrote, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Sell Yourself, No one Else Will by Bryan Lovgren

I got off the phone yesterday with my younger brother who is an emerging filmmaker. He has been working on a feature length documentary for the past two-years that follows the art of skateboarding. The film is extremely conceptual, rich, and takes a fresh point of view on skateboarding.

My brother has poured his soul and a lot of money into the making of his film. In fact, last year he set up a Kickstarter campaign, and successfully raised $10k in funds. He has traveled the world to interview major figures in the skateboarding world and has spent hundreds of hours editing his film. You see, while my brother has won national awards, worked with major brands, and had huge successes on Vimeo and Youtubehis modesty about his own skills has kept him from reaching the next level.

I’m confident that my brother and other talented people like him can succeed in their cutthroat industries with a few helpful tips. Here are 5 essential ways to sell yourself in order to reach the next level:

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Trying to reach the next level in your career or business may leave you feeling inadequate. Those feelings can produce a self-deprecating mentality and hedge against future success. Nelson Mandela articulately said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Putting your best foot forward means:

  • Articulating your story and message
  • Speaking professionally (leaving out jargon and slang)
  • Having a vision of your goals and where you want to be
  • Showing why you are the “one”

Don’t be afraid to display yourself in the best possible light because if you don’t, who will?

Tell Your Story

We all have stories about our lives and careers. Your personal story is one of your greatest assets for selling yourself. The stories you tell about yourself can have powerful impacts on clients, recruiters, and partners. Take the story of Steve Jobs, for example. Jobs created Apple, got fired, came back and absolutely demolished his competition. His story has been turned into books, movies, and helped inspire thousands (if not millions) around the world.

Your story can be the same. Here’s what to consider when telling your story:

1. Your life is a story that you get to write. It’s an easy excuse to pass off the responsibility of our lives to some grand universe who’s dictating what happens. That simply isn’t the truth. Yes, there are external forces and variables that affect certain aspects, but for the most part we choose who we become.

2. The best stories involve conflict. How exciting would Lord of the Rings been if Frodo just marched straight to Mordor and destroyed the ring, without conflict? We cheered for Frodo because he went through so many conflicts to accomplish his goals. Our lives are similar. Things that don’t invite conflict (difficulty) into our lives typically don’t have much intrinsic value. Joel Runyon (Impossible Manifesto) put it this way,

People say they want a lot of things and go after them until they run into conflict. Then they give up and start something else only to give up once again, leaving a trail of unfinished story lines and unresolved conflict in their wake. Then they wonder why they never feel like they’ve accomplished anythingthey haven’t yet.

3. Is it worthwhile? If you decide to live your life in a way that tells a great story, which will inevitably invite conflict, you’ve got to make sure it’s ibeen worthwhile. Often times people start something and quit because the conflict was too great, but those things we truly want we’ll do anything.

4. Fear is natural. Going for greatness can be scary. You’re going to be out of your comfort zone a lot. Just remember that fear is natural and can serve a positive purpose in your story. Fear has been shown to push people to action and be more alert. However, fear that paralyzes you, can destroy your entire story. Think about Lord of the Rings. Frodo let fear paralyze him a few times throughout the story that almost killed him. It’s ok to have fear as long as it’s pushing you forward.

Show How your Talents Turn Into Benefits for Businesses

Successful businesses associate themselves with people who add to or create results. Understanding this fundamental fact, will change the way you talk about yourself. This takes the focus from telling companies what you love to do into how what you love to do will benefit their bottom line.

Focus on Your ‘Success Facts’

This may be the most important aspect of selling yourself. What you’ve done in the business world (or your industry) really determines who you are in a business. Take the opportunity to tell potential clients or job seekers what you’ve done successfully throughout your career. For example, my brother can tell potential clients that he has won national awards, produced videos for major brands, and created viral videos all before the age of 20. What this means to a business is:

If they can have success for themselves or another company, why can’t they be successful for us?

People who answer that question best (with proof) are typically the ones that get hired and get new clients.

Remove Your Blinders and Accept Opportunity

This part really comes down to selling yourself toyourself. Selling yourself to yourself is understanding that the path to success isn’t straight and narrow. You may view yourself as a niche provider who has very specific esthetics, visions, and dreams. That’s great, but don’t let that hinder you from using stepping stones beyond your niche and esthetics to reach your goals.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Why do professional athletes need a coach? By Alan B

What can an out of shape, overweight, late middle aged man do to help the young, fit, athlete at the top of their game? Does the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt, really need a coach? What about Maria Sharapova, one of the world’s top women’s tennis players? I’m a big fan of ice hockey and my favorite team is coached by an older man who never played the game professionally, appears very out of shape, yet is deemed one of the best in his class. And what about professional football (soccer)? How canPep Guardiola gets paid $24,000,000 a year to coach and the top 10 soccer coaches in the world make on average $11,000,000 per year? What makes them so valuable?

For the purpose of this post I’m not going to differentiate between coaching, mentoring, teaching or advising. It all comes down to seeking advice, help and insight from someone else.

The coach to player relationship is one that receives a lot of attention in professional athletics. One day they are best friends, another day they are fighting, one day the player sings the coach praises, and another day they are blaming them. In individual sports where the athlete picks the coach we see this play out even more vividly with players regularly switching coaches, or sometimes suddenly, because they are looking for the right match, for the edge, for someone who can help them get to the next level.He has always made the right decisions for me. He is a guiding light in my career and he has shown me the way to improve myself both as a person and as an athlete,” Bolt said in response to the importance of his coach, Glen Mills.

I like looking at the athletics world for inspiration in the business world because there are so many parallels. For instance, the difference between being the top ranked player and a top 10 or 20 players is often a matter of millimeters or milliseconds. It’s a razor sharp edge between being the best and the rest. In many ways our career experiences are no different. When you’re applying for a new job along with hundreds of other applicants, what gives you that small edge that will make a huge difference in the results?

While there are many answers to this question, professional athletes often praise their coach for being a catalyst in helping them achieve their edge. If athletes understand the importance of seeking help from others, shouldn’t we do the same in our career?

We can learn a number of lessons on the importance on seeking trusted advice from the Player/Coach relationship, here are a few;


Coaches can help us see possibilities where we can’t, and they can stay focused on the goal while we stay focused on preparing and executing to meet the goal. They act as the lighthouse, which is stationary and secure and provides a beacon to direct us when we lose focus.


It’s important to seek different viewpoints from people you trust. Coaches can play a pivotal role in thinking differently than we do, challenging our thoughts, and perhaps provide insight or ideas which we hadn’t thought about. Maybe I’m setting my goal too short? Perhaps their experiences have led them to a different conclusion and I can draw on that insight? Over the years I have valued the different perspectives that trusted advisors have shared with me. In fact often those perspectives have been a catalyst for a change or focus which turned out to be just what I needed.


We all need to push sometimes when we think we’ve had enough or we’ve given it our best. A great coach will push us to the next level and squeeze out that last bit of effort which may take us to another level. If left to our own devices we may be too satisfied with our performance or not believe we can do any better. I know this is usually what happens with me in the gym! Listen to what Mills says about Bolt, the fastest man in the world (who kind of has the right to think he’s at his best) “I wouldn’t say that we have seen the best of him,Mills told Reuters after putting Bolt through a sprint workout. “I think that he’s capable of more (speed), if he has (injury) uninterrupted preparation.”


When our perception of a situation is influenced by emotion, which it often and rightfully is, a coach can provide a neutral, objective, and constructive view point. They haven’t invested the same emotional energy into whatever situation or experience, you’re facing and it’s very helpful to hear a trusted advisor gives a realistic viewpoint. Sometimes it’s enough to help us get out of a funk.

Encouragement and Motivation

Ultimately, some of the biggest value we can receive from a good coach is positive reinforcement, encouragement, and a motivational kick up the backside. It’s easy to get discouraged along the way when we fail at something, hit a setback, or get rejected for a job or promotion we were after. We need others to come along and encourage us, remind us of the value we have and get us in a positive frame of mind. During a critical point in a match against Serena Williams at the 2014 Brisbane International semi-final, Sharapova was mounting a strong rally and thought it important to seek some insight from her coach. You’re letting her know you’re in her face,” coach Groeneveld said, adding that she “must commit” to her serve. Sometimes just a few words can make a big difference.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Why Friends Should Pay Full Price by Dharmesh ShahInfluencer

If your friends don’t value you, no one else will.  


Imagine you and I are friends. You just opened a new restaurant in Boston. You invite me during opening week. I bring my wife. We order a nice bottle of wine and have a great meal. You don’t let me pay the check. “It’s on the house,” you say. “I just really appreciate you coming by and supporting me. Oh, and thanks for that tweet out to your network and helping get the word out!”

Here’s another example (which for me, happens a lot more often, since I’m a tech guy): Imagine you and I are friends. You just launched a startup; your new product is awesome software that helps book authors promote their book (I actually have a book titled “Inbound Marketing” about growing businesses). You run me through a demo — and I think it’s worth trying out because it might help me. You’re trying to get people to pay $19.99/month but you’d bedelighted to have me as a customer, and as such, offer to let me use it for free. And, of course, I shouldn’t pay for the product — and definitely not full price, right? Not only are we friends, but I’m also doing you a favor simply by using a product that’s not completely baked.

In both cases, giving me a freebie is the right thing to do, right? And, for me to accept that generosity makes sense too, right? RIGHT?

Wrong. As a friend, in both examples, I think I should pay full price. Don’t get me wrong, I should get some special treatment for being a friend — and for being an “early customer” that believes in what you’re doing and wants to support you — but that “special treatment” shouldn’t be in the form of discounts and freebies.

When you pay full price to an entrepreneur, costs you very little — but it means A LOT to them.

Why? Receiving a discount is nice but ultimately irrelevant if you genuinely value that product or service. Paying full price doesn’t mean that much to you, it’s not going to change your life all that much. But it means a lot to your friend. It really does. And, it’s not about the money. It’s about validation and feedback.

Validation — because even though you’re a friend, it’s always a magical moment for an entrepreneur to have someone pay them for creating value. It’s like when you got your first job and received your first paycheck. It has high emotional value.

Feedback — because if you paid full-price for the product, you might be slightly more likely to give honest feedback to your friend. Back to my software startup example. If I had accepted the product for free from my friend, I’d feel a little bit squeamish about complaining about something that was wrong — or giving tough critical feedback. Yes, intellectually I know that my friend would value that critical feedback but it would feel a little strange complaining about something I wasn’t paying for. By being a fully paying customer, it someone feels right that I should get the experience a fully paying customer should get.

And, speaking of feedback, just the act of me paying is actually useful feedback in and of itself. Did the website work? Was it able to take my credit card? How did it show up on the bill?

So try this. The next time a friend offers a discount, don’t take it. Pay full price. Be gracious, though. Say, “I appreciate the offer, but I can’t take you up on it. I know I’m happy to pay. In fact, I insist.”

And, if we’re honest with ourselves…

Getting freebies from friends is less about economics and more about ego.

Paying the full price for what you receive shows you genuinely value what you receive – and shows you value the hard work your friend puts into his or her business.

A gesture like that can mean the world to an entrepreneur, not financially, but emotionally.

And it will make you feel pretty good about yourself, too.

So, support your friends and pay full price.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

As an entrepreneur, set a daily objective goal

The best way as an entrepreneur that I fill my time, I always set a daily objective goal starting at 5am before I start my day.  Each day at 5am, I set an analytic metric of objective goals with a follow-through strategy that foresees a clarification of what my forecast of priorities for the day will consist of. In beginning the day at 5am, an entrepreneur should spend time reviewing and examining their calendar. This would help with operational maintenance of time management throughout the day. When an entrepreneur sets daily goals, and the parochial spectrum of high regards in expectancy is defined, and the daily business activities can be easily accomplished.  Each day is filled with filling my time. I start the day at 5am, there has to be a clear focus, consistency, and a checklist of completion. Lastly, stay abroad the course of detail to achieve a productive day with many measurable results in getting things done.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

What I wish I knew before becoming an entrepreneur

As I became an entrepreneur in 1990, I wish I knew to finish college before starting my PR firm. It’s imperative to gain many skills, develop your craft, complete your education and take the time to get as much experience before starting your own business. In addition, to volunteer, intern, and freelance with other entrepreneurs. You will be able to learn from many their business failures and successes. When I started my business, my focus was stretched among many things, working full time in Corporate America, and attending college full time. I believe you must take the time to prepare, and brand yourself before starting a business. Overall, I did well, but I made a lot of mistakes, which could have been avoided if I would have taken my time. You learn along the way, a successful business comes with a successful mindset.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

The Lessons I learned from previous jobs

The lessons I learned from my previous job is how to provide stellar customer service.  I started working when I was 15 in Corporate America.  I worked for several Fortune 500 companies in the banking, career consulting, insurance, and telecommunications industry.  Each job defined and taught me the importance of effective communication, and client relations.  I was fortunate to have great managers and co-workers along the way.  I learned the how to deal and treat people without judgment, and to listen without making assumptions.  In working in Corporate America, I was about to apply many skills, and tools that helped me to become polished as a well-known publicist.  As a publicist, I always related back to my corporate training and experiences when doing business.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Dealing with Setbacks and Disappointments

In the industry of public relations, dealing with setbacks and disappointments comes with the profession. It’s part of the trials and triumphs of pushing through challenges.   I had to learn early in my career that setbacks and disappointments are means of moving forward.  I had to understand, not to take the situation so personally. Instead, use each setback and disappointment as a footprint to lateral progression. We have to be able to adjust and accept changes.  Everything is not going to go as planned. We have to take every situation as a learned experience.  My advice in handling setbacks and disappointments is to always stay positive, be focused on the main goal, and always have an open mind and be optimistic in the situation. Lastly, embrace setbacks and disappointments, its part of the change for the better.


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

Thanks for Calling by Lorraine Ball

This article truly hit a core spectrum for me. This past week I made a call to someone who I respect in the business of PR & Communications.  I called this person to extend an invitation to be a guest on the national TV shows, #TheView and #TheDrOzShow.  When I called the person, she informed me immediately she was on a conference call (Hmmm, If you are on a conference call, why are you picking up the phone???), and she will give me a call back in 12 minutes. Yes, she actually said 12 minutes. I oblige her request with an “Okay, that is fine.”  During our brief telephone exchange, there was no room for me to give her a snippet intro of why I was calling. However, at that time, that did not matter, because I was sure she was going to call back in 12 minutes. We were respected business colleagues, right? Needless to say, 12 minutes went by, 15 minutes went by, 20 minutes went by, 30 minutes went by. You get the point. She NEVER called back!  Now, I was not surprised, she is not good with follow-up, but I tried to give the benefit of the doubt. I don’t know how she is consulting others about Corporate rules and etiquette, etc., when she does not lead by example. Anyway, my point is, she NEVER returned my phone call.  I always say, people make time for want is important to them. Apparently, no matter why I was calling or the news I had to share of an invitation to be on a national platform, she was NEVER going to return my phone call because she has no interest in what I have to say or offer.  People are not too busy to respond, they don’t want to respond to you. I would rather she had been honest and state she has no interest to hear what I have to say. I would have respected her for that. But instead, she blows me off. In essence, she missed out on a great opportunity to expand her career! Customer Service is essential and the main fundamental skill in doing business. In the interim,  not respond, or return a phone call, you can miss out on an important opportunity.


I was surprised the other day when a caller thanked me for answering the phone. I have done a lot of amazing things in my life which I felt deserved a thank you. I would never have thought answering a telephone was something which belonged on that list.

It seems this woman had spent the better part of an afternoon calling companies, with little success. Each call forced her to navigate through voice mail hell.

After spending several hours, she was frustrated because she was no closer to a solution than when she started. She thanked me because she was grateful to finally connect with a find a human being who could answer her questions.

With automated voice mail routing systems, call forwarding, caller ID, text messages and online chat, it’s easy to avoid answering the telephone. It’s easy, but is it smart to make customers and prospects who want to do business with you work so hard to reach you? Push one, push two, push, push, push.

I know there are productivity experts who are convinced these tools are beneficial. Automating your phone tree allows you to reduce the manpower needed because calls are directed to the right person. Screening your calls allows you to be more productive because you eliminate distractions. But there is a downside to this trend. Somewhere along the line, customer service is sacrificed to preserve your productivity.

How you answer a telephone says an a lot about your company. It creates the critical first impression. A warm, friendly, human greeting sets you apart, convincing the caller you are really glad they called. A crisp and professional greeting will instill confidence that you can solve their problem.

In our office, we answer calls on the first ring, even if it means leaping over a desk or knocking a cat out of the way. One of the first challenges of a new employee is trying to beat our office manager to the phone.

The rapid response sometimes startles, but then delights callers who are not expecting a real person. We don’t have voice mail, except after hours.

Every member of our team is familiar enough with all our projects to greet customers by name, answer basic questions and take messages when the issue is a bit more complex. Does it interrupt team members when they are working on projects? Yes, but if we didn’t there would be no new projects to work on.

You can decide you are too busy to stop and answer your phone. That is your choice. Just remember, there are companies who ready to answer every call with the same cheerful greeting. “Thanks for calling, how can I help you?”


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Business · Consultations · Public Relations

4 Marketing lessons to learn from the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” by Avinash Murthy

If you are a social media-holic, chances are that in the last 2 weeks, you would have chanced upon a video of a celebrity, or an athlete, or a politician dumping buckets of ice and water over their heads. I wouldn’t blame you if you already started wondering if this is a collective attempt towards beating global warming! Well, before you stretch your imagination further, here’s what this ice bucket fuss is all about.

A fundraiser and awareness campaign for the ALS Association, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has taken social media by storm since it popped off on July 29, with more than 176,000 people tweeting about it in the past seven days alone. The rules of the challenge are simple: once challenged, a participant has 24 hours to either dump a bucket of ice water over their head, or donate $100 to the ALS charity of their choice. To enhance the outreach and spread awareness further, every participant must then nominate three more people to either take the challenge or pay up.

While there are critics pointing out that the viral nature of this fad appears centered around an aversion to giving of money, I would say that the campaign has done a fabulous job given that a growing list of celebrities including business stalwarts such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates (see below) and Jeff Bezos have participated in this social media fundraising initiative. Also, according to the ALS Association, more than 70,000 new donors have given money to one of its 38 chapters since July 29, contributing to a grand total of $4 million in donations during this same period (compared to only $1.12 million during the same period last year.) leaving little doubt that this initiative has been a massive success!

What caught my attention however is the reason behind the euphoric and emotional response to this campaign. I believe that the brains behind this campaign have taught us four important lessons on how to run a successful viral social media campaigns:

1) Relate to a Cause -The objective behind the campaign was to help raise awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease while raising funds. History says that any marketing campaign that is associated with a cause which strikes an emotional chord with the target audience does well.

2) Be Simple -The Ice Bucket Challenge is very simple. All it needs for one to participate is a smart device and a social media account – which is just about everyone these days. Leaving aside the cost of the ice and the amount involved in the donation, the entry to be a part of the awareness campaign is essentially free, and the humiliation factor is extremely minimal.

3) Have Fun – When you’re interacting with your social community, it’s important to have fun, so long as your business type allows it. Therefore, it should be no surprise that people enjoy entertaining and fun-loving engagement. The Ice Bucket Challenge did enough to tickle people’s senses.

4) Endorsers – Any successful viral campaign gives the end users a voice and an active role in the campaign and the Ice Bucket Challenge did exactly that.

This is not rocket science. A vast majority of marketers already knows this, but even the best ones have a hard time actually getting it right!


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