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Remembering Katrina

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This past week was the one year anniversary of the tragic events that occurred last year during and after Hurricane Katrina. This week also marks the one year anniversary of my blog, partly inspired by the destruction and despair that I witnessed as a result of the storm. The impact of those images compelled me to begin thinking of ways that I could help with the rebuilding efforts. I decided to use this blog as a platform for ideas and potential solutions. Here are a few of my first articles, representing my initial foray into the blogosphere...

My goal over this past year has been to be part of the solution for improving our communities, not just someone who complains about the problems. There are no easy answers for strengthening families, eradicating poverty, decreasing homelessness, eliminating teen pregnancy, increasing high school graduation rates, etc. Nevertheless, I will continue to brainstorm and develop solutions that can have a real impact and achieve significant results. There is still much work to be done and as the famous quote states, "I have not yet begun to fight!"

We all have something significant that we can contribute to improving our communities. To make it happen we just need to come together and work toward common goals more intentionally. Let's be part of the solution together.

I look forward to continuing to encourage you to reach further, perform better, try harder, think broader, and dream bigger!

Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson


Tags: Katrina, economic development, community development, ,


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Just Like Jazz

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I was driving in my car the other day and listening to some jazz on the radio. As I was appreciating the exquisite craftsmanship and unique blend of notes, melodies, and riffs of a particular song, an interesting thought came to my mind. In many ways, jazz is very similar to business and jazz artists are very similar to entrepreneurs.

I love music and one of my favorite genres is jazz. What I enjoy the most is the talent of the artists expressed through their musical creativity and innovation. To the casual listener, it is extremely difficult to distinguish when a jazz musician is "playing it straight" or improvising by adding their own flare to a song. Although they play within the structure of the song, i.e. tone, harmony, tempo, melody, they are still able to innovate within that structure to create an experience that is unique, inspiring, bold, and beautiful.

Entrepreneurs are very similar to jazz musicians. Just like with a musical composition, structure is also very important in business. In business there are some key fundamentals and guidelines to operating one successfully. Those guidelines include things such as leadership, vision, strategic planning, cash flow, marketing, customer service, competitive pricing, etc. Nevertheless, true business impresarios improvise and innovate within these guidelines to create products and services that wow their customers. Their flare and creativity are the result of knowing how to make effective business decisions, anticipating the dynamic ebb and flow of the marketplace.

Although they may be known for their cutting edge products and services, the most innovative companies still understand and operate by basic business fundamentals. They recognize that discipline is the foundation for creativity and innovation, meaning that they must execute well in the basics before they can step outside of the box. Likewise, when someone first sits down to learn how to play an instrument, they don't start with the most difficult songs. They start with the easy ones and build from there. If you are early on in your business, don't try to go so far out of the box that you don't have a business model that can make money. Excel in the basics first, and then expand your operations and activities.

It's interesting that when you listen to jazz, sometimes a chord here or there may sound out of place. Often in business, you have to go outside of the norm and change the definition of what others may consider normal. What's off key for somebody else may be just right for you. Companies that are successful are able to expand outside the box by differentiating themselves from their competition through price, quality, uniqueness, service, or some other distinguishing factor.

Just like there are different types of jazz, there are different types of management and operational styles. If you have very conservative customers, your approach may need to be a little more conservative. However, if you are targeting more fast-paced, risk-taking customers, you better align your products and services with their preferences. If you have a mixture of customers, then you really have to be able to "flow" both ways.

You are a business maestro. Be disciplined, but also flexible. Find what's right for you and then be the best at executing it. Don't be afraid to stretch yourself and try something new or different. Create "wow" experiences for your customers. That might be just what you need to bring your business into harmony with your target market.

I look forward to hearing the sweet sounds - cha-ching! - of your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson


Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, jazz, innovation, music, innovative business ideas

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Do No Harm

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Although the phrase "do no harm" is most often associated with the medical profession, it is a very wise admonition for entrepreneurs to follow also. In my most recent posting, like many other people, I was praising the winner of the 2006 Tour de France, Floyd Landis. Unfortunately, since that time he has failed two doping tests for higher than allowable levels of testosterone. He was fired by his team and the Tour de France no longer considers him their champion.

I wrote in my posting, Ingredients for Winning, that some of the key things that he learned from his mentor, seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, were "forget pain, overcome mishap, crush self doubt, and focus only on your victory.” While each of these things is critical to winning grueling bike races, one of the key instructions that seemed to be left out was "don't cheat."

Performance enhancing drugs seem to be commonplace everywhere in the sports world today. From baseball and football players to track stars, there seems to be no end to the stories of athletes getting busted for using illegal drugs. Sporting events, which used to be an enjoyable escape for fans, now are somewhat tainted, because nobody knows who's using and who's not.

How does all of this relate to business? Let me ask you when was the last time you cheated one of your customers? When was the last time that you deducted something on your taxes that was questionable? When was the last time you lied to one of your suppliers to get a better deal? You see, sports isn't the only area that illegal or unethical performance enhancing practices are used to gain a little bit more of a competitive advantage.

Of course it takes financial capital to run a successful business. I liken integrity to another type of capital - relationship or social capital. Social capital, i.e. credibility, is often more crucial than financial capital for many business owners. If entrepreneurs won't operate with integrity in their business dealings, there is nothing left for them to stand on. Losing credibility not only hurts the individual, it also hurts customers, suppliers, employees, and their families. What took a long time to build can come crashing down in an instant.

Entrepreneurs have to make many sink or swim choices everyday to maintain and grow their businesses. However, it is NEVER the right decision to do something that you wouldn't want to be published on the front page of a newspaper or a blog. No matter how small it might seem, what you do in secret should always align with how you operate in public. That's called integrity. And it's sad to say that many businesspeople are bankrupt in this area.

No matter what pressures you face on a daily basis, it is never worth it to cheat, steal, lie, or do anything else that is illegal or unethical. Remember, you will reap what you sow. If you sow positive seeds in your business and other people's lives, you will reap positive results. Likewise, if you sow negative seeds, you will reap negative results, which might not only cause you to lose a few dollars or a few customers, it might also cost you your business. Don't just think about yourself; think of the lives that will be negatively impacted by your negative decisions.

Do the right thing and do no harm.

Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson


Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, ethics,
Tour de France, discipline, Floyd Landis, sports, Lance Armstrong

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Ingredients for Winning

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Soon after I posted my article yesterday (see The Habit of Winning), I read the following quote about Floyd Landis, Sunday’s winner of the 2006 Tour de France:

“Riding with Lance Armstrong taught Floyd Landis some key principles he used to win the Tour de France: Forget pain, overcome mishap, crush self doubt, and focus only on your victory.”

The Tour de France is a grueling 14-day, 2,106-mile bicycle race up and down the mountains of France. Ultimate success doesn’t happen with a one day victory. Every day each rider has to recommit to his vision and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals for that day. They realize that each day’s triumph gets them one step closer to the final prize. Here’s what we can apply to our own endeavors from that powerful statement about Landis:

  1. Forget pain – Everyone standing behind you is not there to pat you on the back. Nevertheless, without experiencing the problems and challenges of dealing with difficult people, you wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate your victories and successes. Let pain be a motivator not an inhibitor.
  2. Overcome mishap – As brilliant as you are, your wonderful ideas will not work perfectly all the time. Contingency planning is not an option; it’s a necessity. Preparing in advance for difficulties will allow you to make adjustments easier and continue your forward momentum.
  3. Crush self doubt – People are often their own worst enemy, because of how they see themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself or what you have to offer, then it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. If doubt is pervasive in your thoughts, you have lost before even beginning. Eliminate negative self-talk and change your mental conversations to focus on your strengths.
  4. Focus only on your victory – You must see it in your mind before you can achieve it. A single-minded, laser-like focus will allow you to stand firm and be resilient as pain, adversity, and doubts come your way. These are just distractions that will keep you from your achieving your vision.

Forgetting pain, overcoming mishap, crushing self doubt, and focusing only on the anticipated victory in front of us are key ingredients for achieving victory in every area of our lives, including business. These are similar to the ingredients that go into a cake. By themselves they get limited results, but when they are mixed together they produce something special and flavorful.

Every day of our lives we are in a race, not against others, but against time to fulfill the purpose for which we were created before we die. Life is not easy, but you’re the only one who can run your race. Live your life to win every day, so that at the end of it you know that you invested everything you had and you can confidently claim your prize.

Empowering your for success,
Paul Wilson

Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, Tour de France, discipline, Floyd Landis, sports, Lance Armstrong

Enjoy the rest of the article here.


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The Habit of Winning

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Everyone wants to be associated with a winner, i.e. someone who is regarded as successful. However, just because you know a winner doesn’t automatically make you one, just like being in a garage doesn’t mean that you are now a car. There are some key criteria that qualify someone as a winner.

Before I go any further, I need to define some terms that people use in various ways. I define a “win” as an achievement or accomplishment and I define “winning” as on-going, successive achievements. The habit of winning occurs when a person is able to follow a self-developed pattern of thoughts, behaviors and actions that allows them to consistently overcome obstacles and challenges in order to achieve continual victories in their pursuits.

Success is not established with one victory necessarily. Real success is sustained by winning over the long-term. Successful people are not successful due to happenstance or good fortune. They are successful because they have taken the time to develop the habit of winning. The habit of winning applies to your business, career, marriage, relationships, personal pursuits, sports, etc. People can develop the habit of winning just like they can develop the habit of losing, i.e. they get used to failure or self-sabotaging ways and begin to expect these negative patterns to continue.

The habit of winning is easy to see in sports. One obvious athlete that typified this mindset was Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the best basketball player of all time. Most people would agree that he was the most talented player whenever he stepped on the court. While he had immense talent, two of his character traits that stood out the most, though, were his work ethic and will to win. In the off-season he probably worked harder than anybody else did. He understood that the secret to sustained winning was not just his talent. He knew that he had to keep doing those things that got him to the top in order for him to stay at the top.

Winning Habits = Discipline

Most people are satisfied to simply have talent or a good idea and think that will be enough to succeed over the long-term. In business your talent or a good idea may help you gain a new customer or an initial contract, but those things by themselves won’t allow you to develop healthy, long-term revenue streams. It’s not time to relax after winning the contract or gaining a new customer. The intensity and focus of the pursuit shouldn’t decrease; it simply changes. Discipline and diligence are required to grow prosperous relationships (click on Disciplined for Success).

One key area of your business where it is critical for you to develop winning habits is customer service. If you want to create long-term success, you have to be relentless and almost fanatical about maintaining a high-quality level of service. Here are some ideas to help you do that.

  • Send written thank you notes to your customers before and after the deal is closed.
  • Return customer phone calls or emails within 24 hours.
  • If possible, perform a self-audit of your product or service while it is being used by your customer.
  • Administer surveys that invite your customers to critique your offerings.
  • Add valuable services as an upgrade for current products.
  • Improve the ease of use of your products and services.
  • Provide free upgrades to your product or service prior to a customer request.
  • Discover ways to streamline your processes and lower your costs, so that you can pass on some of the savings to your customers.
  • Brainstorm ideas for new and better product or services.
  • Invite potential customers to focus groups to develop relationships and understand their needs, so that you can tailor your offerings to meet those needs.
  • Use a newsletter or blog to proactively provide valuable information that will assist your customer in their operations.

Winning consistently in business and in life takes focus, passion, perseverance, commitment, resilience, and discipline. Sometimes it is hard to maintain a high level of focus everyday; however, don't give yourself excuses or blame other people for you not achieving your goals. One thing that will help is for you to revisit your written vision often. When you have those bouts of laziness or discouragement, use your vision to jolt you back into the game. Successful people win consistently with discipline and diligence. Don’t allow short-term comfort (or discomfort) to impede your long-term success.


Empowering You for Success,

Paul Wilson


Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, customer service, discipline, Michael Jordan, sports


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Money Flows

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I’m sure many people have been puzzled over the last couple of weeks as to why Warren Buffettt would give nearly $31B of his fortune to Bill Gates (see article). What was he thinking? Why would the richest man in the world, who already has the largest philanthropic foundation in the U.S., “need” more money from the second richest man in the world? I'm not here to debate whether or not this was the "right" thing to do. The fact is money flows to people with powerful ideas.

Powerful ideas are those that can be effectively implemented and produce measurable results. Many people can dream wonderfully creative ideas, but those ideas aren’t effective, because either they aren’t practical and/or there is no way to measure the resulting impact.

One of the key things that makes an idea powerful is the detailed plan that supports it. The difference between dreamers and visionaries is that dreamers think of great ideas, but visionaries follow through and develop a plan to implement their ideas. That’s why there are many dreamers and few visionaries.

People with money will invest it in those who have great ideas and sound plans. Sometimes this happens even before the plan has proven successful, because the investor has bought into the person behind the plan, whose character has been demonstrated through their discipline and diligence in developing their idea. That’s what the venture capital industry is built on – people and companies who invest in other people’s well-thought-out, well-defined ideas, affectionately referred to as a business plan.

Most people’s dreams never become a reality because there was no comprehensive plan to implement or execute it. If you want money to flow to your ideas, whether from customers or investors, there are a few simple steps that you need to follow:

  1. Spend some uninterrupted time visualizing what you are trying to accomplish. You can’t accomplish what you can’t see.
  2. Write down your idea. You have a much better chance of accomplishing the goals that you write on paper than the ones you just keep in your head.
  3. Develop an implementation/execution plan with milestones and deadlines. You demonstrate your character and commitment to your idea by taking the time to work on the plan.
  4. Gather trusted advisors who will give you an honest critique of your idea and plan. Find those who will help to refine your plan, not people who will automatically reject or accept what you have.
  5. Begin the journey, but don’t try to do everything at once. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a few small steps. Achieve a few small victories so that you can gain some momentum.

Don’t allow fear, complacency, lack of resources, or anything else to stop you from accomplishing your vision. If your idea is powerful and your plan is thorough, then the right people will come along at the right time and provide the right resources that you need to make it happen.

You can use this process whether you are in business or not. Remember, ideas get people excited, but plans mobilize people and resources to get things done. Just ask Bill Gates.

Empowering you for success,
Paul Wilson



Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, innovation, philanthropy , Bill Gates, Warren Buffett


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Independence Day

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Today as I am celebrating my first “independence” day from corporate America, I reflect back on the founding fathers of this country. We often are reminded of what they did and how they did it. What I am going to focus on is how they thought. Before anybody began to plan or execute the American Revolution, it first had to be a thought in someone’s mind. Understanding how they thought is critical to extracting relevant principles from what they did.

We need a revolution in our communities today. Just like the British government was oppressing the colonists, many people today are oppressed by poverty, drugs, homelessness, teen pregnancy, and many other forms of subjugation. In many cases people have allowed themselves to be enslaved to their pasts (mistakes, regrets), hopelessness, others’ expectations of them, or their current environment. Nevertheless, before people can be physically or emotionally free from these circumstances, they first have to be mentally free.

Freedom begins with a thought. The founding fathers began to aspire to and dream about freedom long before they ever attained it. That allowed them to have the initiative and motivation to plan the Revolution. One begins to change their environment or situation in their minds long before the change is actually realized. Mahatma Gandhi stated it very well, “The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. Freedom and slavery are mental states.” The moment that people resolve that they will no longer be victims of their circumstances, they can get on the path to changing their lives.

The ability to think/see beyond one’s current circumstances is an incredible asset. You who have made positive transitions out of oppressive conditions now have the responsibility to help others gain their freedom. Often, you will have to help those who are “visionally impaired” to see beyond their current environment into a future that is better and brighter.

I challenge you to start a revolution in your community. Don’t conform to “group think”, where everyone is stuck in the same negative mental ruts. Visualize a greater future for your community, write a plan, and put a deadline to it. Change the conversations by encouraging solutions rather than just complaining about problems. Engage other people in your plan who are also willing to challenge the status quo. Challenge yourself to do something different everyday that moves you closer to fulfilling your vision. Don’t let anything stop you before you reach your goal.

Don’t be a victim or a slave to your circumstances – free your mind! It’s time for you achieve your destiny and positively impact those around you.

Empowering Your for Success,

Paul Wilson


Tags: 4th of July, Independence Day, community development, empowerment, leadership, slavery, freedom


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Innovation Diversity

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What is innovation? Peter Drucker’s definition of innovation was “change that creates a new dimension of performance” (Source: Wikipedia). Another definition that I found was “the successful exploitation of new ideas” (Source: Wikipedia).

Innovation is usually linked with technology or certain types of companies. But when was the last time that you saw diversity linked with real, measurable results of innovation? Of course workforce diversity advocates would trumpet the fact that a diverse population of employees will spawn innovative ideas that can improve a company’s performance. I would challenge them to provide hard evidence of this. Like Joe Friday from Police Squad, “The facts, Mr. and Ms. Diversity Professional, just the facts.”

Although it may be hard to substantiate the impact in some areas of diversity, Supplier Diversity has an incredible opportunity to innovate with measurable results (see Supplier Diversity Innovations). However a change in thinking must happen with Supplier Diversity professionals. They must begin to see their roles differently. They must start to view themselves as value-added innovators versus merely compliance facilitators.

Technology does not have the patent on innovation. In fact, Doblin, Inc. has defined 10 types of innovation, divided into 4 categories (click here to view the entire list). At least 5 of the 10 specific types stood out in my mind as prime candidates for Supplier Diversity innovation, including:

  • Networks and Alliances – Diverse suppliers must be much more willing and proactive in creating strategic relationships with one another that allow them to expand their capacity and increase their capabilities to provide competitively priced, high quality goods and services to corporations. Supplier Diversity plays a key role in helping to create environments that encourage and promote these types of relationships (see Leveraging Strategic Relationships).

  • Enabling Processes - Supplier Diversity must do a better job of aligning itself with the company’s overall strategic initiatives by thinking beyond just diversity spend goals. They need to refocus on developing innovative solutions for using diverse suppliers that help the company successfully differentiate itself and execute its strategy in the marketplace.

  • Core processes - Minority suppliers can add value to a company’s supply chain by helping to lower costs, improve quality, and make key processes more efficient. This should be the focus of every Supplier Diversity professional.

  • Product Performance – Minority supplier input during the design of products and services could not only help to lower costs during the production process, but could also provide valuable insights to specific segments of a company’s target market, resulting in increased revenue opportunities.

  • Channel – Successful minority suppliers could be utilized strategically by corporations as key spokespeople, especially in specific customer markets that the corporation may be targeting. Positive feedback from satisfied suppliers who have strong reputations in their communities could have a very positive influence on the choices made by consumers in those communities.


I could have included ideas for the other 5 types of innovation also. The point is that Supplier Diversity innovation is definitely possible, but it won’t happen on its own. It must be intentional. An environment must be created that invites critiquing, collaboration, and creativity by those who are stakeholders in your organization’s mission.

Based on some interesting insights offered by the Fast Company Resource Center, here are some suggestions for kick-starting innovation within your Supplier Diversity organization:

  1. Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Make sure it's a top priority for everyone on your team.
  2. Utilize a Supplier Diversity suggestion box, but make it virtual and transparent.
  3. Don't just ask for ideas, clearly formulate the problem, and then ask for solutions from different stakeholders inside and outside of the company.
  4. Seek out and attract creative enthusiasts and supporters of your Supplier Diversity vision and collaborate with them.
  5. Create an internal customer-supplier roundtable that focuses on problem solving and concept development.

If Supplier Diversity wants to be considered as a strategic function, it must become more innovative. Organizations that don’t innovate in one or more ways to adapt to their environment will not grow, and therefore will eventually die. Supplier Diversity is too important to too many stakeholders to allow it to die.

Be proactive and creative and do something innovative to build momentum and keep the progress of community empowerment through small business development moving forward.

Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson


Tags: business, entrepreneur, innovation, empowerment, minority business development


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Entrepreneurial Leadership - Part 2

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Continued from Entrepreneurial Leadership – Pt. 1

Entrepreneurial leaders lead with their heads and with their hearts. They perform with the skill and mindset of an expert chess player. Based on learning, observing, and understanding different people’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, they know how to position the right people with the right roles and responsibilities at the right time in order to get the best results for the business, organization, or team.

One of the entrepreneurial leader’s most important abilities is that they help people recognize the wealth of talent, skills, and abilities inside of them and help them to extract it, causing their potential to be realized. When people on your team begin to fulfill their potential, it will produce a powerful confidence in them that enhances their performance and the people around them. You will see results in your organization beyond what you could have imagined.

How can you make this happen? Continuing from the previous list:

4. Create an environment of risk-taking by you being willing to take prudent risks. These are not just business risks, but emotional risks, especially in terms of your transparency. Be willing to acknowledge what your short-comings are. Your people already know what they are anyway, so there is no sense in trying to pretend that you don’t have any failings. One incredible benefit is that this will allow you to establish a greater level of trust with your people.

5. Stretch people by pushing them to operate outside of their comfort zones in a way that complements their strengths and benefits the organization. This will also broaden and deepen the skills and talents of your team.

6. Create incentives that reward people for taking risks that cause them to stretch beyond what they have done in the past. Reward sincere efforts as well as the successes.

7. Teach and challenge your management team to be entrepreneurial leaders and have them do the same for their team members. This is not just a one-person, top-down activity. You want these kinds of leadership traits permeating throughout your organization. This will encourage every team member to look for and attempt to pull out the best in the people around them.

If you do these seven things, you will create fiercely loyal and passionately committed team members who are extremely productive, because they have been empowered to be their best and do their best.

I challenge you, no matter what type of organization or environment that you are in, to operate as an entrepreneurial leader. You will experience results that impact your bottom line, but more importantly your people’s lives.

Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson


P.S., I invite you to comment on this blog if you can identify an entrepreneurial leader that has helped you in your life. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, empowerment, success, team building

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Refocusing Supplier Diversity

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I am very excited! Back in January I wrote that I had a new opportunity with the Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking (see New Entrepreneurial Opportunity). Well, just this week my first article has been published. The title of the article is "Refocusing Supplier Diversity."

The theme of the article is that corporation's supplier diversity departments must become more progressive, shifting from a compliance/social program focus to a strategic value focus. I want to challenge supplier diversity professionals to think and act more entrepreneurially in order to position supplier diversity as a resource that provides quantifiable value to corporations, thereby creating more opportunities for qualified minority businesses. Here's an excerpt:

...This fiercely competitive marketplace also presents some difficult internal challenges for supplier diversity departments. One of the biggest challenges is the pressure to show the value of supplier diversity to their companies. There is a strong correlation between how companies view the strategic value of supplier diversity and the human and financial resources that are allocated for these initiatives. Available resources have a strong correlation to success. Limited resources will likely mean limited success and this reality not only hurts the program but also the professional career. Supplier diversity professionals have the opportunity to change their often limited role and be viewed as strategic contributors if they are willing to make some progressive changes.

Quantifying their value creates a new dynamic for supplier diversity professionals, one in which they are compelled to operate from a different perspective than in the past. The focus must now be on improving the company's bottom line not merely focusing on increasing spend goals. This shift is made more difficult by the numerous supplier diversity challenges, including lack of resources, limited influence, uncooperative decision makers, and inefficient purchasing processes. This situation is complex and often daunting, yet not impossible to overcome...

Click here to read the rest of the article. Also, you can go to the Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking's web site (http://www.entrethinking.com/) and get the article by clicking the link under the title "Is Minority Business Development Really an Economic Development Tool?"

I look forward to your feedback. Enjoy!


Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson



Tags:
business, entrepreneur, leadership, supplier diversity, minority business development

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Entrepreneurial Leadership - Part 1

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Effective leaders come in many different forms and have many different styles (see Maximum Impact). Some of these forms/styles include:

  • Motivational leaders are like cheerleaders, who can inspire people through passionate pep talks filled with creative imagery and powerful words.
  • Relational leaders are able to connect with people 1 on 1 or in small groups, allowing them to feel significant and needed, such that they develop strong bonds of loyalty and commitment.
  • Operational leaders, highly respected due to their wealth of knowledge and experience, are able to execute a plan, knowing how to make the right decisions at the right time with the right people to get the desired results.
  • Authoritarian or dictatorial leaders, while they may not be as respected as other type of leaders, are able to run a “tight ship” and get results (at least in the short-term) even though they establish fear among their followers.

Let’s explore another type of leadership – entrepreneurial. Entrepreneurial leaders intentionally create situations, opportunities, and environments for other people to thrive, thereby enhancing the success of the entire organization. They seek to create new ventures and initiatives that enrich people's lives. Seeing other people succeed is what drives them everyday. They are able to use their entrepreneurial skills to create atmospheres that influence people to go beyond their current level of performance. They not only help people feel like they can fulfill their potential, they create situations to allow it to happen. They are able to expand people’s expectations of what they can accomplish through their own efforts and giftedness.

Using the resourcefulness and ingenuity of an entrepreneur, this type of leader is able to take the people resources around him/her and produce something better than what may have already existed. They are flexible enough to use different types of leadership traits, like the ones mentioned earlier, without overusing or abusing any one of them. In essence they know how to get the best out of people, such that the organization, team, community, etc. is improved as a whole.

Entrepreneurial leaders show up in many different walks of life. They are business owners, corporate executives and managers, pastors, teachers, employees, community leaders, and coaches, among other things. Their focus is on the long-term return from a person’s life, not just a short-term hit of adrenaline. They understand that the success of those they lead will eventually result in their own success and fulfillment.

If you want to get the most out of your team, become an entrepreneurial leader today. Here are some ideas on how you can do this effectively:

  1. Identify the unique qualities and strengths of each person on your team. This takes time and attention, so don’t try to rush it.
  2. Show each individual on your team a figurative (or literal) mirror by affirming them, so they can acknowledge those qualities in themselves. Many people never realize their full potential, because they underestimate their significance.
  3. Don’t allow anyone on your team to work aimlessly. Make sure they are engaging their talents as much as possible.


Continue to Part 2 to get the rest of the list…

Empowering You for Success,
Paul Wilson


P.S., Write to me by commenting on this article if you can identify an entrepreneurial leader who has helped you in your life. I look forward to hearing from you soon.



Tags: business, entrepreneur, leadership, empowerment, success


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What Progress?

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Statistics are a funny thing. It’s interesting how very different conclusions can be derived from the same set of numbers when viewed from different perspectives. If an organization publishes a set of statistics and a person either doesn’t know how to dissect them or is too lazy to ask probing questions, they can be fooled into thinking that a situation is better (or worse) than it really is.

Last week, the Hartford Courant published a story entitled, "Census Statistics Twisted." In this article they were critiquing reports that the U.S. Census Bureau has been trumpeting recently about the progress of Hispanic and African American entrepreneurs. While it’s true that the overall number of businesses have increased for both groups, the majority of the growth is due to an increase in single-person companies.

The key issue here is not how many businesses have been started by minorities. The key issue is how many are in business five years later, how many have employees, and how profitable they are. Take a look at the Courant’s analysis:

  • The number of Hispanic-owned businesses with employees fell 6 percent between 1997 and 2002, the two years in which the Census Bureau last surveyed minority-owned firms. Those owned by blacks barely budged.
  • During the same period the total number of firms with employees rose 4 percent nationally, meaning that established businesses owned by groups such as whites and Asians are the ones that really expanded.
  • In 1997, the average revenue of all Latino-owned firms - those with and without employees - was $143,866, according to the Census data. The average revenue of all black-owned businesses was $77,426. Firms owned by whites, meanwhile, had average revenues of $417,395.
  • In 2002, revenues for black- and Hispanic-owned businesses fell further than for whites, and the gap widened by 1.5 percentage points for both minority groups.

While it’s great that some progress has been made in terms of the overall number of minority owned businesses in existence, we can’t be satisfied with the fact that there are more sole proprietors now than five years ago. New approaches to minority business development are desperately needed (see New Growth Strategies Needed).

The next phase of minority business development has to shift away from mainly focusing on starting businesses and move toward building businesses that have economic significance. More knowledge capital and financial resources need to flow into capacity building. More resources and programs are needed to train and coach people how to use industry best practices for growing from a “lone ranger” entrepreneur to an employer that has a payroll of 50 people. That’s real economic development.

Some of the responsibility also rests with the minority entrepreneur. Those who desire to grow must see beyond their own abilities and talent to perform a service or create a product and focus on building an enterprise. They even may have to consider various ownership alternatives that could challenge their concept of owning and running their own business (see Leveraging Strategic Relationships).

Now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back or rest on recent achievements. There is much more work to be done in the area of minority business development if it is going to be used as a viable economic develop tool for communities. More innovation, expertise, and resources are needed to fulfill the potential of this initiative. Let’s get to work!

Empowering You for Success,

Paul Wilson


Full article: http://www.courant.com/hc-censusdata0522.artmay22,0,1477392.story

Tags: business, entrepreneur, minority business development, small business, economic development


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Kudos for YoungBiz

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I would like to give a plug here for YoungBiz, who mission is to empower youth with entrepreneurial, business, and financial skills through innovative education and real-world experience.

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a teacher training session for one of their youth entrepreneurship courses. I was very impressed with the knowledge, skills, and experience of the trainer, Juan Casimiro. He not only focuses on the principles of owning and running a business, he helps youth start legitimate enterprises. YoungBiz reinforces and augments what students are learning in school through the real-world application of math, reading comprehension, writing, leadership, and creativity among other things. They take a sincere interest in the long-term success of youth, and not just try to push them through a curriculum.


Looking at the current conditions plaguing our youth and the long-term prognosis of our communities, if these situations continue unchecked our communities will continue to deteriorate. We have to implement innovative and effective methods that empower and prepare our youth for a successful future (see What Really is Empowerment?). Entrepreneurial skills, such as problem-solving, teamwork, goal-setting, and presentation skills translate into valuable life skills. Therefore, teaching them entrepreneurial skills can go a long way to redirecting many of our troubled teens toward positive paths that will lead to their long-term success, rather than in the direction that many are now heading (see Next-Gen Entrepreneurs).

If you are a parent, teacher, or community leader who would like to get your youth interested in something more productive than playing video games and watching music videos, I would definitely suggest finding out if YoungBiz entrepreneurship training is being offered near where you live. Even if they never start a business, the skills that they learn will carry them far in terms of helping to shape them into productive, successful leaders who have a positive impact on the community.

Let’s not just talk about it, but let’s do more to positively impact our youth by creating opportunities and environments for their success. Please contact me if you would like some help with getting in touch with someone at YoungBiz. I am more than happy to do so.

Empowering You for Success,

Paul Wilson


Tags: , entrepreneur, empowerment, community development, youth entrepreneurship

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Help for Rwanda

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Last week I wrote an entry, “Entrepreneurs Needed in Africa.” I said that I was going to become a student of that continent so I could use my entrepreneurial skills and business knowledge to empower as many people over there as I can. Well, in October I will have the opportunity to study Rwanda in person. I am going on a short-term missions trip over there from October 2–12, 2006.

The team of people I am going with will provide practical assistance to their local churches in meeting the spiritual, physical, and financial needs of the Rwandan people. If ever there was an area of the world in desperate need for love, hope, forgiveness, and revival, Rwanda is on the top of the list. One only needs to remember the 1994 genocide or the current tragedies taking place in Darfur to be reminded that there is much healing and rebuilding needed there.

I want to give you or your business an opportunity to be a part of this great event through a sponsorship. In exchange for your sponsorship of this trip, I will provide you with an article and a featured link on this blog highlighting your business, non-profit, or community service organization. This will be an incredible chance for you to empower people and change lives across the globe.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this trip, please send me an email at info@biznovations.net and we can discuss your options. All of the travel arrangements are being handled by Global Missions Fellowship. You can even submit your contribution online at www.gmf.org if that is more comfortable for you.

Your tax deductible contribution will make a huge difference for many lives. I’m reminded that the eternal benefits attached to this trip are not only for people of Rwanda, or even the missionaries going, but also for everyone enabling this trip to become a reality. And that prayerfully includes you.

With much appreciation,

Paul Wilson




Tags: , entrepreneur, Rwanda, Africa, economic development

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Rags to Riches - Literally

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The other day I heard something very intriguing and it caused me to relate it to how entrepreneurs think. This person made the statement, “It’s improbable, not impossible.” This kind of attitude would definitely describe Chris Gardner.

According to USAToday.com, he once was homeless and slept in a men's room stall at a San Francisco transit station with his toddler son. Today, he can say his company has managed multimillion-dollar bond issues for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the same transit system that he slept in!

What’s more amazing about this story is that his recently released book, The Pursuit of Happyness, will be turned into a movie due out in December starring Will Smith.

This powerfully inspiring story let’s us know that no matter what situations we face as entrepreneurs or as people in general, nothing is ever too difficult to conquer. We must have a relentlessly resilient attitude as it relates to confronting our challenges and overcoming our fears. And we don’t have to hit rock bottom to be motivated to go to the top.

So the next time you are presented with an opportunity that seems beyond your capabilities, you’re having a hard time closing the deal with a difficult customer, or your revenues are falling far short of your goals, just remember, it might be improbable, but it’s never impossible!

Empowering your for success,

Paul



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Entrepreneurship Lessons Learned

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It has now been 7 weeks since I left corporate America and launched Wilson Innovation Alliance (see Fresh Start). To say that it’s different “out here” than “in there” is an extreme understatement. I wanted to share with you a few of the things that I have learned.

I’m sure most entrepreneurs probably have already heard the gist of the points that I’m going to make. I’m also sure that of the 95% of small businesses that fail, the owners have all heard some really good advice (see Suggestions for Small Biz). C.S. Lewis said something to the effect that more people need to be reminded of what they already know than to be instructed on what they don’t know. Awareness of these principles is not the issue. Effective application is the issue.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Build a strong referral base through strategic networking. Tim Sanders says that “your network is your net worth.” One thing to keep in mind about networking is that if you aren’t adding value to someone else by referring them to others (or others to them), then you’re not effectively networking. Diligently search for ways to be a value-added resource to others in order to help them expand their network. If you do, you will definitely reap what you sow.
  • Get a sales/marketing expert. If you don’t have a sales/marketing expert on your team, you need to figure out a way to get one or at least find someone who is willing to coach you in that area. One of the challenges for small businesses today is that there are so many ways to promote your business that you can spend lots of money doing a lot of different things, but still not impact your company’s revenues. This expert can help you to maximize your resources and strategically align your company with the right marketing opportunities that will best support your goals.
  • Develop a daily tactical game plan. Just as important as having a business plan is having a tactical action plan that outlines what needs to happen in your business on a daily basis. Without one, your business will be a like a sailboat without a sail in the middle of the ocean, subject to every wave and wind of change. Your plan should be flexible, but focused. It needs to be developed with relevant metrics that you can use to track the continual progress that you are making toward your operational goals.

There is a scripture in the Bible that says, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). In terms of business, this essentially means implementing a plan that incorporates these practices will help you to run your business more profitably, but knowing these principles and not using them will lead to your company’s demise. Don’t allow faith and hope alone to guide your business.

Do the things that you have heard so that you can be long-term success story.



Tags: , entrepreneur, leadership, strategic planning, marketing


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Entrepreneurs Needed in Africa

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Earlier this month I wrote about the traits of entrepreneurial thinkers (see On Becoming an Entrepreneurial Thinker). Small business owners are not the only ones who need to possess these traits. These traits are also needed by leaders in the upper echelons of business and government, including the countries of Africa.

There was an article from Reuters yesterday that talked about a recent meeting of ministers and experts from across the African continent. They were discussing policies and practices to create jobs in the world's poorest economies. Economic growth driven by commodities exports over the past five years has not resulted in any significant job growth.

According to African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka, "Economic growth does matter, but economic growth must be broadly shared, and it must create employment. It is self-evident that the private sector will have to be the driver of growth.”

Duncan Mlazie, Botswana's assistant finance minister, stated, “We have so many declarations on labor issues we know exactly what we want to do: we want to create employment. What we don't seem to do is address the 'how' part of it, and implementation.” That’s where innovative, effective entrepreneurs step in – to develop creative ideas and implement practical systems that generate wealth.

I don’t purport to being an expert on Africa, but from an entrepreneur’s point of view, great opportunities seem to abound there - for those who are problem-solvers. Long-term success would require a group of socially responsible entrepreneurs (see Entrepreneurs Who are Changing the World) who could figure out innovative, yet practical ways to create jobs in the agricultural sector (a big job creator there). The benefits of a successful implementation and duplication of this type of business development system would be far-reaching.

Too many people and companies in the past have gone into many of these African countries and benefited from them without returning a significant investment back into their local economies. If the future is going to be any different, socially responsible entrepreneurs will need to fill the void where entrepreneurial thinking and action is desperately needed.

I am committed to utilizing my entrepreneurial skills and business knowledge to empowering as many people as I can in Africa. I will become a student of that continent and its countries, gaining a deep understanding of their history, culture, economies, and politics. This will allow me to make a legitimate contribution to their long-term economic growth. This will be part of my entrepreneurial legacy. What about you?



Tags: , entrepreneur, innovation, Africa, economic development

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Mother's Day Salute

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Mother’s Day Salute to Entrepreneurial History

Madame C.J. Walker

On this Mother’s Day I would like to salute a mother/entrepreneur from history. Madam C.J. Walker, a St. Louis washerwoman turned entrepreneur, patented a highly successful African-American hair care product in 1905. She died in 1919 as a millionaire and philanthropist.

According to her great-great-granddaughter and biographer,
A’Lelia Bundles, by the time she died at her estate in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, she had helped create the role of the 20th Century, self-made American businesswoman; established herself as a pioneer of the modern black hair-care and cosmetics industry; and set standards in the African-American community for corporate and community giving.

Her words of wisdom from almost a century ago still ring true today for entrepreneurs. The formula for success that she prescribed for aspiring entrepreneurs included tenacity and perseverance, faith in herself and in God, quality products and honest business dealings. "There is no royal flower-strewn path to success," Walker once commented. "And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard."

You can read an excerpt from Bundles’s account of Walker’s exemplary life and business career at
http://www.madamcjwalker.com/excerpt.html.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers and my mom too! Thanks for all that you have done to position your children to be successful! We wouldn't have made it this far without you.

Sincerely,
Paul



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, entrepreneur, leadership, philanthropy

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Leadership Insights – Day 5

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Friday, May 5th, I attended John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact simulcast. It was an incredible event with some great speakers on leadership. Each day this week I will highlight two different speakers and some of their most memorable statements. Hopefully their insights will inspire and encourage you just as they did for me. Enjoy!

Kathy Ireland, entrepreneur, author, and former supermodel


  • Every dream needs a leader and every leader needs a dream.
  • If someone says “no,” ask “why.” If someone says “yes,” ask “how.”
  • Leadership is bringing opportunities to situations of challenge.
  • Winning and losing are both habits.

She also had one of the best quotes of the day: "Whatever you have to give up to fulfill your passion is not a sacrifice, but a bold investment."

J.C. Watts, former Oklahoma Congressman

  • Anybody can be good once in a while. The magic is being good everyday.
  • Effective leaders listen to hear versus listening to respond.
  • The quality of a person’s life is directly proportional to their commitment to excellence.
  • A leader without convictions is a leader who will fail.

Ask yourself how these insights apply to your daily activities. If you want to have a great business, you need to be a strong leader. How focused are you on strengthening your leadership skills?

Click here for Days 1234.

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Leadership Insights – Day 4

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Friday, May 5th, I attended John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact simulcast. It was an incredible event with some great speakers on leadership. Each day this week I will highlight two different speakers and some of their most memorable statements. Hopefully their insights will inspire and encourage you just as they did for me. Enjoy!

Peyton Manning, All-Pro QB of Indianapolis Colts

  • The goals we achieve are directly proportional to how far we’re willing to reach.
    If you don’t stretch you can’t grow; if you don’t grow others will pass you by.
  • Winners look for stepping stones not stumbling blocks.
  • Are you here to massage history or to make history?

Tim Sanders, author of The Likability Factor

  • Likability = personal capacity to consistently produce positive emotional experiences in other people.
  • Effective leaders figure out a way to connect with people’ passions.
  • Be obsessed with keeping promises.
  • Long after your team remembers what you did and what you said, they remember how you made them feel.

Ask yourself how these insights apply to your daily activities. If you want to have a great business, you need to be a strong leader. How focused are you on strengthening your leadership skills?

Click here for Days 1235.

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Leadership Insights – Day 3

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Friday, May 5th, I attended John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact simulcast. It was an incredible event with some great speakers on leadership. Each day this week I will highlight two different speakers and some of their most memorable statements. Hopefully their insights will inspire and encourage you just as they did for me. Enjoy!


General Leo Brooks, Vice Director of Army Staff
  • Innovation is being able to use the tools that you have in ways that they were never intended to be used and getting effective results.
  • A good organization learns continually and shares broadly.

Mark Sanborn, author of The Fred Factor

  • Leaders always increase “ROI”, Relationships, Outcomes, and Improvements (Ideas).
  • Leadership begins with self-mastery, which consists of competence, character, and connection.
  • Focus on MVPs: Most valuable and profitable activities.
  • IQ = Implementation Quotient: leaders are evaluated on results not intentions.

Ask yourself how these insights apply to your daily activities. If you want to have a great business, you need to be a strong leader. How focused are you on strengthening your leadership skills?

Click here for Days 1245.

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Leadership Insights - Day 2

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Friday, May 5th, I attended John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact simulcast. It was an incredible event with some great speakers on leadership. Each day this week I will highlight two different speakers and some of their most memorable statements. Hopefully their insights will inspire and encourage you just as they did for me. Enjoy!


Todd Duncan, author of Time Traps

  • Decisions are the catalyst for anything great. Make decisions that others aren’t willing to make.
  • One of the most important decisions you can make is to pursue excellence.
  • You attract people that “look” like you based on your character and attitude.

Don Soderquist, former Vice Chairman of Wal-Mart

  • Leaders make a difference in the results, but more so in the lives of their people.
  • High performers see the forest and the trees. They see details that others don’t see.

Ask yourself how these insights apply to your daily activities. If you want to have a great business, you need to be a strong leader. How focused are you on strengthening your leadership skills?

Click here for Days 1345.



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Leadership Insights - Day 1

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Friday, May 5th, I attended John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact simulcast. It was an incredible event with some great speakers on leadership. Each day this week I will highlight two different speakers and some of their most memorable statements. Hopefully their insights will inspire and encourage you just as they did for me. Enjoy!

John Maxwell, author and founder of Maximum Impact

  • Vision casting is not enough to be a good leader. Being able to take people somewhere is leadership.
  • Managers assume everything will stay the same. Leaders assume everything will change.
  • No leader can be great at everything so they need to develop a strong team around them.
  • The position doesn’t make the leader. The leader makes the position.
  • Help others find their strength zone and keep them there. People grow when they operate in their strengths.


Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

  • Teamwork is a strategic decision not something that is automatic.
  • The leader has to be the first to demonstrate vulnerability on their team.
  • Leaders must hold their people accountable. Behavioral accountability is more important than numbers accountability.
  • Peer accountability is powerful. However, when leaders don’t hold people accountable their peers won’t either.

Ask yourself how these insights apply to your daily activities. If you want to have a great business, you need to be a strong leader. How focused are you on strengthening your leadership skills?

Click here for Day 2345.



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On Becoming an Entrepreneurial Thinker

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If you looked at this title and you are not a business owner, please continue reading. And if you are a business owner, pay even closer attention, for the reason that just because you own a business doesn’t automatically mean that you’re an entrepreneurial thinker (E-Thinker). There is no one profession or career path that has cornered the market for E-Thinkers. They come from all professions and/or educational backgrounds, including business, government, education, faith-based and religious organizations, nonprofits, technology, sports, the arts and entertainment, etc.

E-Thinking is not an activity, but a state of mind. In essence, E-Thinkers are creative problem-solvers who are able to see opportunities where others only see problems and then use available resources to develop innovative solutions that produce profitable results for themselves and others. E-Thinkers can do this repeatedly, because they see the world differently. They welcome challenges and seem to seek out opportunities where the odds are stacked against them, so they can figure out a way to overcome them. They don’t have time to complain about how bad things are, because they are too busy trying to find solutions. They are kind of like firefighters in that when everybody else is running away from the burning building, firefighters are running into it. E-Thinkers have learned how to seize the opportunities that are presented to them, allowing them to create new possibilities and pathways in their lives and for those who are connected to them.

Society needs more E-Thinkers to help it to overcome many of its ills. We need more people who are willing to see and do things differently in order to produce better results. So how can you equip yourself to become one of these highly sought after individuals? I believe E-Thinking is more learned than taught. However, I also believe there are some fundamental practices that, if you begin to do them faithfully, you will chart a path in your life that you may never have thought possible.


  1. Change your thought life. If you think it’s a problem, then it’s a problem; but if you think it’s an opportunity, then it becomes a chance for you to make a difference.
  2. Be flexible. Look at other environments that are different from yours and adapt their best practices, philosophies, concepts, and ideas to your situation/environment.
  3. Be positive. Let go of the “it won’t work here” syndrome. Negative attitudes will keep you stuck in the same situation that you have been in for however long you’ve been there.
  4. Be willing to be unconventional. If you want to excel beyond everybody else, you must be willing to be different than everybody else. Sometimes just being positive is different enough.
  5. Have faith. Sometimes you just have to believe that the seemingly impossible is possible. Now, this faith isn’t in your own abilities, but in God, who gives us the infinite ability to produce results far beyond anything that we are able to do on our own.

People who know how to solve problems and get results are always going to be in high demand. So whether you’re a business owner, an employee, or retired, if you truly want to make yourself more attractive in the marketplace, become an E-Thinker.



Tags: , entrepreneur, innovation, small business, vision, empowerment

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Disciplined for Success

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It is very interesting to me that in most success formulas for entrepreneurs, one of the most important ingredients is often left out. That ingredient is discipline. Of course this is probably because discipline is not as fun to talk about as leadership, creativity, technology, marketing, innovative products, building relationships with customers, etc. Discipline is usually considered a dirty word by those who consider themselves “free spirits” or just don’t like structured environments. Nevertheless, without this component as a core part of their business DNA, many entrepreneurs will never reach the ultimate goals that they have set for themselves.

Success equals opportunity plus preparation and discipline is at the center of that preparation. Discipline allows for us to streamline our focus by cutting away the “fat” (unnecessary stuff) from our lives just like an athlete would who is preparing for his/her upcoming season. The fat represents all the trivial things that keep us from fulfilling our potential.

Most environments that we encounter in life are undisciplined and they allow undisciplined people to operate freely. There are very few environments, besides the military, that can “shape” someone into a disciplined person. Therefore, discipline must be a choice that starts in a person’s internal environment, i.e. character. When a person develops and practices discipline in their habits, time management, health/eating, work ethic, relationships, etc., the result is that person can go into any undisciplined environment and thrive. The disciplined person can keep from being negatively influenced by other undisciplined people.

Discipline does not happen overnight. It must be developed over time through practice and conscious decision making. The challenge is that the process of discipline can be hard and lonely. It’s hard because it forces us out of our comfort zone and makes us do things that we have not yet developed a taste for (or may never). It’s lonely because much of it is done behind the scenes and often other people, who aren't pursuing discipline in their lives, can’t relate to us.

Discipline takes focus, sacrifice, and commitment to your vision. When things become difficult, you must shift your focus to the purpose of the process and not the process itself, with the purpose being you positioning yourself to achieve your long-term goals. Only focusing on the process eventually will become discouraging. However, focusing on the end goal provides motivation to endure and appreciate the process. Short-term pain results in long-term gains.

Your success as an entrepreneur (and in life) is directly correlated to your willingness to be disciplined in the following areas:

  • Time management
  • Financial decision making
  • Utilizing your gifts and talents
  • Relationships (family and business)
  • Speech/conversations
  • Thoughts

Think about the areas in which you are undisciplined and develop a plan to get better. You may need to get a coach or an accountability partner. This ultimately will help you to not waste energy and maximize your resources. Don’t shortchange yourself or give yourself excuses for not being disciplined. Your success depends on you.

Practice makes perfect…

Paul


Tags: , entrepreneur, discipline, success, leadership, empowerment,

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Great vs. Good – Part 2

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In "Great vs. Good - Part 1" I wrote that part of the “environmental mix” for one to become great includes challenges, hardships, and difficulty. For the extreme majority of people, life is not going to be a bed of roses. As human beings, and especially as entrepreneurs, we all have to deal with our own set of problems and issues. The difference between those who succeed in life (and business) and those who fail depends on how we handle those problems. Furthermore, the more successful we are at handling our own challenges, the more successful we will be at modeling out for the next generation how to be successful in handling their challenges. Whether we realize it or not, they are watching us closely for how we respond to our environment. We need to make sure that our character more than anything else is worth replicating in their lives.

Regardless of the business or life situations that we may be in, each of us still has the opportunity to achieve greatness. We must look at the opportunities and challenges that we face and determine the types of choices that we will make. Each of these choices will either move us closer to or further away from greatness. There is a story that’s been circulating around for years that highlights this concept very well. It’s the “Carrot, Egg, or Coffee Bean?” story.

The short version of the story is that a daughter was complaining to her father about her difficult life. As a way of teaching his daughter a lesson about life, the father boiled these three objects in some hot water. He explained that the carrots, the eggs, and the coffee bean had faced the very same challenging circumstances — boiling water. However, each item had reacted differently. The carrot had gone into the water strong and firm, but had come out softened and weak. The egg had been fragile before it was put in the water, but had come out hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the water, they had changed the water, i.e. their environment. It was no longer just boiling water, but tasty coffee. The coffee bean’s best was produced from what would seem like the most challenging of situations.

The father’s question to his daughter is my same question to you, “Which will you be — a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Will you produce your best or worst when your business is going through its most challenging times? Will you resort to unethical business practices to get a contract or will you set an unwavering standard for ethical behavior? Will your quality suffer when you’re in a cash crunch or will it get even better?

Don’t be a victim of your circumstances, but instead use your circumstances to your advantage. Change your environment — don't let it change you for the worse. Let the aroma of your character make a positive difference in your various spheres of influence, especially our youth. That’s what great entrepreneurs do! Greatness is awaiting you today. Don’t make it wait too long!

Empowering You for Success,
Paul

Achieve greatness today by positively impacting someone else’s life!

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