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Successful Setbacks - Part 2

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... continued from Successful Setbacks - Part 1...



Learn from your yesterday to make decisions for your today that benefit your tomorrow.

One of the things that keeps me going after a setback is that I don't run my business or live my life just for the sake of money, fame or success. I see a much bigger purpose for my business and my life. I am living a legacy, so that I can leave for the next generation. Therefore, when I am confronted by challenges, I need to see beyond myself in terms of how I handle them.

I love the quote from the movie Gladiator, when Maximus tells his men who are about to go into battle that "what we do today will echo into eternity". The focus of your life should not be just what happens to you today, but the legacy that you will leave tomorrow.

I operate from the perspective that the things that happen in my life aren’t just about how they impact me. I consider how my experience could benefit the people that I will meet later in life who could be facing a similar situation. I think about how life lessons that I learn through difficult tests will help me to be a resource to my children as they confront comparable challenges. Therefore, when I am faced with setbacks, I know that I can't quit because someone important to me is waiting for me - even depending on me - to succeed. And that person may not even be born yet. Whether you realize it or not, someone is waiting on you to succeed also.

Perseverance is a key component of a successful setback. And while persevering for your own goals is great, persevering to help others reach their goals is even better. I believe the human spirit comes alive when we fight to help others achieve a better life. A great sense of fulfillment awaits those who persevere for the benefit of others.

A key question to ask yourself is "What are you a part of that's bigger than you, that can't be accomplished by only you?" If your vision for your business or life is not on that grand of a scale then it needs to get bigger. When you discover and embrace the fact that your purpose in life incorporates more people than just you, you will adjust how you see life and how you respond to the things that happen to you.

One of the critical roadblocks that keeps people from extending themselves to others is fear. Fear paralyzes people, keeping them from stepping outside of their comfort zones, either to get help or to give it. It also prevents them from bouncing back quickly from their setbacks, because often it takes connecting with those outside of our comfort zones to get us back on track. We can learn a lot from others' experiences that will help us get back on our feet after a setback. Your relationships will determine your results in life. If you try to do life alone and self-focused, you will fall far below your success potential.

As you compile your goals for 2008, think about somebody (or somebodies) into whom you can invest your time, talents and resources. Let that person or group of people be part of what drives your determination when you encounter frustrations. Don't let fear or anything else prevent you from connecting with the people who you need... or the ones who need you.

Remember that a setback is a set-up for you to develop the character and internal fortitude you need for the journey that lies ahead of you. If you’re going to fail, then fail while moving forward toward your goals and dreams. Keep learning and keep growing. Be great in '08! I look forward to your success!

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resource:

Building Success Beyond Personal Gain
by Jim Citrin
http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/leadership/57180



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Successful Setbacks - Part 1

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Setbacks are the seeds of success. If you don't learn to deal effectively with setbacks, you won't ever realize true success.

My how time flies! It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming in the new year. If you are anything like me, you have been reflecting on the past 350 or so days to assess whether or not you had a good or bad year. You have probably been replaying experiences in your head that you would give labels to, such as joyful, painful, challenging, memorable, forgettable, funny, and even "oh, I forgot about that one."

As people go through the process of assessing their 2007, most of them will fall into one of two categories. They will assess their year as either a series of successes or a series of failures. For many who didn't accomplish their goals, they will say this was a wasted year and they will set off to make new plans for 2008. They will try harder, work longer, and spend more time doing what they think they need to do to accomplish their goals.

Unfortunately, one of the most important things that they will fail to do is change their perspective on what they consider failure. They don't realize that failure is not the lack of success or making a mistake. Failure is either not trying or not learning from your mistakes (i.e. continuing to do the same thing without making any changes).

I almost titled this posting, "Failing Successfully," but I prefer the term "setback" versus failure, because failure isn't final - it’s formative. How is it formative? A setback is simply a failure that becomes a success when it is transformed into an opportunity to learn and grow. Learning from your setbacks, missteps, and mistakes positions you for success.

EVERYTHING that happens in your life is either an opportunity to learn something new, grow your character, or develop your skills. It was Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." It's easy to claim success and be positive when everything is going well in your business or life, but how do you handle things when your plans go awry? What is your response like during those times? Do you go into learning mode or complaining mode?

The outcome of your situation is largely dependent upon your perspective. If you think your situation is a problem then you typically will approach it pessimistically. However, if your perspective is that your situation is an opportunity, you will approach it optimistically. Entrepreneurs, change agents, and social innovators need to be almost obsessively optimistic, because of the exceptional challenges that they face to succeed.

Understand that if your problems were any less challenging, it would require someone less talented and less equipped than you to handle them. You see, the skill of a sailor is not developed in calm seas. Your ultimate success requires you going through challenges and adversity to develop your character and skills.

Recently, I heard a young lady encouraging her friends, telling them, "let your frustration be your determination." Although she wasn't talking to me directly, that motivational gem has helped me to keep a positive attitude about some of the difficulties that I encounter in my business and in life.

What are some other things that can help you to have the right perspective so that you can achieve successful setbacks in your business and life? You'll have to come back for Part 2. See you soon!

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resource:

Failure is Part of Success, Edited by Rod Kurtz
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jun2005/sb20050622_9223_sb013.htm?chan=search








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Mission Driven Intrapreneurs

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The path to workplace fulfillment is to align your career path with your life mission.

Americans are growing increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs. According to The Conference Board, the percentage of employees satisfied with their jobs has been declining over the past 20 years and it doesn't seem like that trend will be reversing any time soon.

I don't believe this is simply because of employees' lack of money or poor work environments. I believe one of the key reasons that less than half of professionals in the workplace today are happy with their jobs is that they are doing the wrong job. One of the main reasons they are doing the wrong job is that 1) they don't know what their life purpose or mission is and/or 2) they haven't found the type of work that best aligns with their purpose or mission.

In my previous posting, “Powered by Intrapreneurs”, I defined an intrapreneur as a person who focuses on innovation and creativity and who transforms a dream or an idea into a profitable venture, by operating within the organizational environment. They possess entrepreneurial skill sets, but they choose to use them in a corporate setting rather than start a business on their own. A mission driven intrapreneur takes this definition even further. This person is an intrapreneur who closely aligns their job/career with what they believe to be their personal life mission.

Once a person discovers his/her life mission, a monumental shift in perspective occurs for them. One thing that they realize almost immediately is that they may be doing the wrong job or are in a career field that may not be best suited to their talents, aspirations or new life focus. They may decide its time to transition to a different career path where they can apply their entrepreneurial aspirations or talents in ways that bring them more personal and professional fulfillment. In many cases this may require a total change in career paths. This change in career paths could be referred to as "re-careering".

"Re-careering" is increaing in popularity as the term used to describe professionals who change career paths, often resulting in jobs that are drastically different from the ones they had previously been doing. This concept is exciting for many people who believe they are trapped in their current jobs. However, those who have a desire to do this should proceed with caution. Re-careering is not just a job transition, but a life transition that requires serious consideration and planning.

Going through this type of transitioning process, however, can be an extremely frightening and difficult time. Before going down this pathway, a person has to wrestle with all the ramifications that come along with something that could cause drastic changes in work, family, and social life. What must also be considered is the large initial financial hit one may experience as they get their feet planted in their new job or company. Typically when a change like this is made, the person doesn't start off at the top of the pay scale in their new field.

Here's some tips for those who are looking for some direction as it relates to charting a new course for your career:
  1. The most important tip that I can share with you is to take some time to discover what truly is your life mission. Along with this, identify your passions, personality profile, and learning style. An incredible resource that I highly recommend is "Living the Life You Were Meant to Live" by Thomas G. Paterson. You could also hire a qualified life coach that is capable of walking you through an intense mission discovery process.

  2. Identify the requirements to succeed in the desired new job or career path, including education, certifications, licenses, experience, etc. Assess your current transferable skills that would make you successful in that new career field. For the skills or knowledge gaps that you have, make sure that you figure out how long it might take you to get the necessary tools to determine whether or not the time and cost trade-off is worth it to you.

  3. Diligently seek opportunities to learn about the alternative career path that you're desiring. Talk to as many people in that career field as possible. Read as many resources as you can get your hands on. Go to as many seminars and workshops as you can afford. Listen to podcasts until your ears hurt. Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into, because the grass on the other side of the career fence may not be as green as you perceive it to be.

  4. Get some hands-on experience before your transition by working part-time, freelancing or volunteering in that area. This could be internal or external to your current company. This will help you build your knowledge base and skill set in that area and also allow you to get an accurate picture of what your new work will be like.

  5. Write your plan and share it with your personal advisors. If you don't currently have any, find some. Get candid input and feedback from your family and loved ones, because more than likely this transition will not just impact you.

  6. Go for it! Don't wait for anyone to give you permission to thrive in your dream. Don't let fear or naysayers stop your from fulfilling your life mission.

One place to start looking for mission driven intrapreneurial opportunities is your company's social responsibility initiatives. Based on what you have discovered your life mission to be, you could choose one of these initiatives to contribute your time, talent, ideas, and entrepreneurial energy to help your company succeed. These initiatives could include:

  • Workforce diversity
  • Supplier diversity
  • Local schools, education and literacy
  • Community affairs
  • Health care
  • Environment
  • Economic development
  • Youth mentoring

If you have given up hope that you could ever be satisfied working for a company, don't stop believing. You can still find excitement and satisfaction in the work that you do. You just have to know where to look for it. Use re-careering as the process to get on your mission driven career path to fulfillment!

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resources:
1) "Successful Recareering" by Emily Keller
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/06/0625_recareering/index_01.htm

2) "Your Brilliant Second Career" by Liz Ryan
http://www.businessweek.com/careers/content/jun2007/ca20070623_856586.htm

3) "Risks and Rewards of the Intrapreneur" by Sean Silverthorne http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/2693.html

4) "Mission Driven Entrepreneurship" by Paul Wilson, Jr. http://biznovations.blogspot.com/2007/07/mission-driven-entrepreneurship.html



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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

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I am excited to tell you about two of my upcoming speaking engagements. Both topics will be one of my four Empowerment Engagements (tm). If you are in the Atlanta area, hopefully you will be able to attend.

*September 25, 2007
Small Business Workshop
Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council
Strategic Supply Chain Selling: How to Create Value & Win Corporate Contracts
Click here to register.


*October 1, 2007
Conference Breakout Session
2007 Annual Conference for Utility Purchasing Management Group (UPMG)
Best Practices in Utility Supplier Diversity
Click here to register.

If you are interested in bringing one of these or my other Empowerment Engagements (tm) to your organization, please send me an email to empowerment@biznovations.net.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Designed for a Purpose - September 23, 2007

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Empowerment comes in various form and methods. Dress for Success, Inc. is a national non-profit that helps promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire and a network of support and career development tools to help women thrive in the workplace and in life.

On Sunday, September 23, in Atlanta, GA, this powerful organization will host a competitive fashion show, entitled "Designed for a Purpose". The purpose of this event is to raise money and awareness for this great cause. There will be celebrity appearances, live performance, and much more!

Please visit designedforapurpose.org to get more information.



If you are in the Atlanta area, I hope you will be able to support this special organization, either through a donation or by purchasing a ticket. If you don't live in Atlanta, check the Dress for Success website to see if there is a local chapter in your area. This could be a great opportunity for you to invest in someone else's dream.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Fighting for Your Dream

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A championship fight took place this past weekend that most people in America probably had no idea was happening. This was a fight between the UFC Champion and the Pride Champion. Most of you still don't know what I'm talking about. That's ok, keep reading.

http://www.mma365.com/


In the last few years Mixed Martial Arts (i.e., Ultimate Fighting Championship and Pride Fighting Championship) has had a meteoric rise into mainstream sports and entertainment. I am amazed at this, because what was once on the fringes of the sports world - many considered it not much more than barbaric street brawling - is now more accepted as a legitimate sport.

While I am not necessarily a fan of the sport overall, there is a lot that you and I can learn from these athletes. They have a passion, intensity, and drive for what they do that exceeds the average person (and maybe even the average athlete). The amount of punishment they give out and receive in one match is astounding. But one thing is for sure, they are not going to quit unless they get put into a submission hold or they get knocked out - whichever happens first.

Are you like that with your dreams? Do you have a fighter's mentality about your vision? Are you so committed to your idea that you won't quit until its accomplished? How resilient are you when you have setbacks? How resourceful are you when you run into roadblocks? What is your level of "stick-to-it-ness?" How much punishment are you willing to endure to ensure that your goals get accomplished?

They say the 3 P's of entrepreneurship are passion, patience, and perseverance. Of the three, I believe perseverance is the hardest to develop. The reason is that you usually have to get "beat up" a lot in the pursuit of your endeavor to develop a high level of perseverance. This is probably even harder for talented people, who are used to things coming to them very easily.

* If your vision or dream can be accomplished easily, it's too small!

* If you don't need anybody else's help to accomplish your vision or dream, it's too small!

* If your vision or dream only impacts you or your family, it's too small!

The truth is that nothing that's going to be great is going to be easy. So how do you develop a fighter's mentality that will allow you to dream big and then persevere to accomplish that dream? Here are 12 training pointers that will help you in your personal and professional development:

  1. Set big goals and small goals - Dream big! If you don't think you can win, then you've already lost. Establish intermediate milestones that represent mini-victories that you savor and cherish along the way to accomplishing the big goals. Reaching these milestones also helps you to grow your confidence, which you will need a lot of.

  2. Focus your vision on others - When your vision purposefully encompasses the impact that you expect to have on others, you will develop an internal motivation to see it all the way through to the end. So when your situation gets so challenging to the point that it seems overwhelming, think about all the people that will lose out if you don't accomplish your vision.

  3. Create a vision board - This is a visual tool that you create using words and pictures that you find in magazines or on the web that symbolize your vision, values, goals, personality, etc. You can post in your home or office in an area that you see all the time. So when times get really tough you can look at your vision board to help you get some motivation.

  4. Streamline your focus - Don't try to be "good" at 10 things. Strive to be "great" at 1 or 2. This will also help you to better manage your resources and time - which is your greatest resource.

  5. Challenge yourself - The skill of a sailor is not developed on calm seas. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and take some risks.

  6. Find a training coach - Connect with people who are "refiners". They push and challenge you to grow and develop. They have the ability to drive you harder and further than you would typically go on your own.

  7. Get some training partners - Connect with people who are "refreshers". These are peers who are fighting similar battles and can relate to what you're going through. They are not going to let you quit on your dreams and you don't let them quit on theirs.

  8. Eliminate distractions that discourage - Get rid of people or things that could derail you from your dream. This could also include negative personal habits that steal your time and thoughts away from activities that are healthy and productive. You always need your mind to be fresh and uncluttered so that you can receive new ideas.

  9. Learn from your experiences - Don't keep making the same mistakes. Actually apply what you learn so that you don't keep going around the same mountain unnecessarily. Also be flexible enough to make adjustments to your plan, because the pathway to your dream may take some unexpected twists and turns.

  10. Learn from other people's mistakes - You don't have to personally experience every class in the "school of hard knocks" if you can learn from other's mistakes. Whether you know them personally or learn about them through different media, simply read their life/business "cliff's notes" and apply what you learn.

  11. Embrace the journey - Perseverance is a developmental process not a destination. Write down your experiences and feelings in a journal as you go through this process. When you read about yourself 6 months or a year from now, you will be amazed at how much you have grown.

  12. Don't quit! - Make a pact with yourself that you will keep going no matter what happens. Prepare yourself to bounce back from setbacks. Develop a resolve that you will not stop fighting until your vision is accomplished.

Any dream that's worthwhile will not come easy. I heard a speaker once say that the theme of almost every success story has 3 key phases: 1) big dream, 2) big struggle, and 3) big success. If you have a dream, understand that you will have to go through a struggle to see it accomplished. And if you are in the midst of your struggle now, just keep fighting and believe that your success could be just around the corner!

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Related articles:
1) Rise Above It

2) Conquering F.E.A.R.

3) Ingredients for Winning



Tags: , entrepreneur


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Educating Entrepreneurs

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A few months ago I wrote a posting entitled, "Mirror Mirror." The main theme of that article was the necessity of entrepreneurs to have a "continuous improvement" mentality. To stay competitive in this dynamic global marketplace, we always have to consider various ways to improve our knowledge and skill sets. Sometimes, though, it's hard to figure out where to go to get the kind of training and development that we need to grow our businesses and ourselves.

Fortunately, help may be right around the corner from where you live. Every year there are a growing number of local colleges and universities which are providing special programs and workshops to help small business owners fill their knowledge and skill gaps.

Throughout the country this fall, similar to students from kindergarten to college, entrepreneurs are also going back to school. Businessweek writer Joyce M. Rosenberg noted in a recent article, "Small Business Owners Go Back to School":


"Colleges and universities around the country -- junior colleges as well as the big-name schools -- are an ever-growing resource for company owners looking to further their business education. And with many schools catering to small business owners, there is a huge range of individual courses as well as certificate and degree programs available. And many schools offer flexible-attendance programs and online learning."
Whether it be to improve your skills in technology, financial management, strategic planning, marketing, employee development or customer service, there is probably a course out there for you. Not only are these courses a good way for you to enhance your knowledge and skills, they are great networking opportunities. You will be able to build relationships with other small business owners while you are learning.

Entrepreneurs are leaders and leaders are learners. So, if you want to be an entrepreneurial leader, you need to make a commitment to become a life-long learner.

You might already be good at what you do, but you can always get better. Don't make excuses for not growing. With so many flexible learning options, including online, night and weekend courses, there is no reason why you can't take the time to improve yourself.

Don't stop learning! The more you grow, the more you will position yourself for long-term success.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

Resources:
1) Small Business Development Centers
2) SCORE


Tags: , entrepreneur


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Social Innovation in New Orleans

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One of the main reasons I write my blog is to spark ideas for social innovation. So I get very excited when I hear or read about what other social innovators are doing in their communities. Currently, there is an innovative idea that is being proposed to help accelerate the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. James Andrews writes on his Key Influencer blog that Friends of New Orleans is looking to bring a Presidential debate to the city.

The awesome thing is that the city has everything in place to make this happen, including the funding and hotel venue.

You can help make this happen. This campaign is targeting your Governor, members of the US Senate and members of the US House of Representatives. Click here and follow the directions.

In many ways it seems New Orleans is forgotten until it's time for a political photo op. There is still so much work to be done. This could be your opportunity to get involved in the rebuilding even though you don't live there. Let's pull together to make this happen for the people of New Orleans. The deadline is September 11th.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Link to Friends of New Orleans: http://friendsofneworleans.change.org/nonprofit_page/nonprofit_events/94511?event_id=14757

Tags: , New Orleans, economic development




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Powered by Intrapreneurship

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Unleash the power and potential of entrepreneurial energy inside your organization.

Most of what I write about is from an entrepreneur’s perspective, so many readers might tend to think that my only audience is other entrepreneurs. That is only partly true. The topics that I write about contain transferable principles that can be applied in any environment. But for those of you who work for an organization and still feel left out, this article is just for you.

Entrepreneurs don't just exist in small businesses. There are many people in the workforce who possess the skills and mindset of an entrepreneur, but don’t desire to deal with the challenges, issues, and difficulties of running their own enterprise. These are very talented employees who often seem out of place, because their personality profiles and work styles are at odds with the types of job assignments they are given. I call these people “intrapreneurs.”

What is an intrapreneur? The best definition that I have found is, “A person who focuses on innovation and creativity and who transforms a dream or an idea into a profitable venture, by operating within the organizational environment.” One of the reasons why I like this definition is that it closely aligns with one of the topics that I’ve been writing about recently, “visioneering.” In fact, I would say that intrapreneurs are visioneers.

Some key characteristics that intrapreneurs possess include:

  • Entrepreneurial thinking – Able to see what “can be.” Focus on finding solutions not complaining about problems. Inspired by obstacles. Use creative means to generate new ideas to solve old problems.

  • Visionary leadership – Help others see beyond their typical point of view and go further than they would have on their own. Leverage relationships effectively with those outside of own department to successfully complete projects. Able to navigate through the political potholes to get things accomplished.

  • Passion – When they are truly committed to something, they don’t settle for no. Their energy is infectious... or obnoxious, depending on the type of culture they work in.

  • Change catalyst – Always look to capitalize on opportunities for improvement. Favorite question is “why not?” Drive change by connecting people and simplifying processes.

  • Value generator – Build bridges between theory and practicality. Resourceful ability to utilize limited resources to achieve significant results. Understand key business fundamentals and how to apply solutions that help organizations make money or save money.

Today's workforce consists of many unsatisfied employees who are very frustrated in jobs that are routine, mundane, and unchallenging. They need to be given opportunities that will engage their imaginations, stretch their skills sets, and catalyze their creativity. Intrapreneurship is one way of doing this.

Similar to entrepreneurs, intrapreneus conceive great things and are effective at moving people toward their vision. They bring their vision to life with their ability to marshal the right resources at the right time to produce meaningful results. Often, they create new business models or different ways of doing things that result in innovative opportunities for the organization.

They are pioneers with no blueprint to follow. They can take ideas and concepts from diverse unrelated subjects and topics and integrate them into their own area in ways that move the organization forward in new directions. In the process, they can knowingly or unknowingly forge new career paths for themselves.

There may be many of you who are reading this, saying, “Yes! This is who I am!” But before you run out and tell your boss your new revelation, there are some critical aspects of intrapreneurship that you need to consider. Intrapreneurs have to be very careful in how they navigate through the corporate culture. If they are in a very conservative culture, they will either draw people or repel them. They will draw those who see things the way they do and desire change. They will repel those who are either adverse to change or are satisfied with the status quo.

Intrepreneurs are a rare breed in many organizations, so if they don’t handle themselves well, they can become outcasts. Many of their character traits, which would be celebrated if they were entrepreneurs, are sometimes not appreciated or understood in an organizational environment. Since they are just "employees", they at times can be viewed as impatient, impractical, ungrounded, arrogant, or overly aggressive.

I can relate to many of you who have experienced this in the past or who may be experiencing it right now. During my previous career at a Fortune 200 company, my entrepreneurial drive and energy were often squashed in the conservative culture in which I worked. I was often frustrated at the lack of desire of many employees and managers to even engage in conversations to explore new and better ways of doing things. There was an institutional arrogance that seemed to reject creativity and innovation, especially if it originated from sources outside of the organization. This was one of the key reasons why I left that company to start my own enterprise.

So how does an employee who may not be quite ready to become an entrepreneur, successfully transition into a career path that is more in line with their personality profile or work style? I’m glad you asked. In a future posting I will discuss how you can make a transition to becoming a successful and satisfied intrapreneur.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Intrapreneurship Resources
1. Intrapreneur.com
2. “Intrapreneur or Entrepreneur? Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by Andrew J. Birol
3. “Intrapreneur Exodus”


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Biznovations Podcast is LIVE on iTunes!

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I am extremely excited that the Biznovations Empowercast is now available for your listening pleasure. Similar to this blog, I will focus on topics that will equip and energize leaders, entrepreneurs, change agents, and social innovators. My goal is to help you maximize your potential and profitability!

Go to www.paulwilsonjr.com to get your dose of audio inspiration! You can also go directly to iTunes and download the episodes to your computer, iPod or other mp3 player.

Let me hear from you if you enjoy what you hear from me. I look forward to your feedback.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.




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Youth Empowerment Training

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In my last posting I introduced the concept of Community Development Visioneering. One critical group of people who are integral to the transformation of our communities is youth. Within this growing segment of the overall population is an army of talented, strong, intelligent group teens and college age students who are often misled, misused, misinformed and misunderstood.

It is almost absurd when I think of the amount of untapped potential that our young people possess that is wasting away. If we want a successful and prosperous society generations from now, then we had better start doing a better job of developing our youth today.

My vision for youth is to help them unleash their potential and find their personalized pathway to success. One way to accomplish this is through specialized education and training. I have created several inspirational presentations and interactive workshops that will equip, enrich and energize youth to change their world. These customizable, high impact programs were designed to help high school and college students discover their unique qualities, expand their vision, and catalyze their potential. Key topic areas include life planning, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

All of these sessions can be delivered as inspirational keynote addresses or interactive workshops.

  • Dream B.I.G. in 3D!™: A fun, interactive session to help high school and college students discover and develop their hidden talents, abilities, and interests in order to create a personalized life success roadmap.

  • Hi-Def Leadership™: This dynamic, high energy session was creatively designed to help students identify their personal leadership style, so they can increase and expand their influence and impact on their campuses and in their communities.

  • P3: Passionately Purposeful Profits™: An enlightening, high-impact session that will teach and inspire students to use their personal interests, creative abilities, and educational experience to BYOB... “build your own business.” They will learn how to find and flourish in their life mission by developing and launching a passionately purposeful and profitable mission driven business. Click here to learn more about mission driven entrepreneurship.

Contact me today to schedule one of these power-packed, transformational forums for your school, church, association, or non-profit. You can reach me at empowerment@biznovations.net.

I am very excited about these opportunities to help your students maximize their potential and drive positive changes on their campuses and in their communities!

Empowering Youth Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Tags: , youth leadership, youth ministry



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Community Development Visioneering

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In our communities today it's easy to see the problems of crime, homelessness, poverty, illiteracy, disease, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, abuse, corrupt leadership, and so on. What is much harder to see, though, are the solutions to the myriad of problems that are negatively impacting the lives of children and adults in our communities every day.

As I described in my last posting, Visioneering Diversity Value, visioneers are able to execute positive possibilities in situations that others only see as problems (click here to learn more about visioneering).

I have a vision to see impoverished communities economically and socially empowered through the development and expansion of minority owned businesses in those communities. My conviction is that in a country that is considered to be the richest in the world we should have a lot less people living in impoverished conditions.

I believe it is possible to engineer practical solutions that can be utilized to improve the lives of millions of people, from New Orleans to Africa. I also believe the most overlooked and untapped resources needed to improve these communities already exist within those communities.

Based on our current situation today, those of us who are committed to positively impacting other people's lives need to start doing things differently. It is imperative that we start bringing together entrepreneurially-minded people in corporations, minority businesses, faith-based organizations, advocacy agencies, and other relevant groups to develop comprehensive yet practical plans that will empower people to improve their living environments.

This team needs to be willing and able to think beyond traditional community development models and failed experiments of the past. From an entrepreneurial perspective, there has to be a willingness to take risks and try new approaches that have never been attempted before.

The process of engineering a community empowerment plan such as this takes passion, time, strategic planning, creativity and innovation, discipline, and patience. Short-cuts are not an option. And neither are quick fixes. My idea for this type of plan would include key components, such as:

  • Providing education in the areas of business, economics, finance, and public policy.

  • Training on how to successfully develop and operate a small business or micro-enterprise.

  • Developing business incubators that can be used to expose participants to situations in which their new knowledge and skills can be applied.

  • Creating an overall atmosphere that removes barriers and establishes opportunities for success.
If economic empowerment and community development are areas that like myself you are passionate about, here are some things that you can begin doing today to make a difference:
  1. Start seeing situations through the perspective of possibility versus the purview of problems. Your perspective of a situation will change your response to the situation. Nothing is impossible.

  2. Talk passionately about your ideas with other people. You never know what type of resources someone else may have to invest in your vision. However, because most people are probably going to be more pessimistic than you are, don't allow them to dampen your enthusiasm.

  3. Collaborate and brainstorm potential solutions with other like-minded people. You don't have to be a "lone ranger." You may have only one piece of the solution puzzle while someone else may have another.

  4. Start small. You don't need a complex strategic plan to begin to implement your ideas. Starting small is probably the best way to test some of your ideas to see if they work before trying to impact a large group of people.

  5. Be the change you want to see in your community. It starts with you. Don't complain about something that you're contributing to or that you're not willing to do anything about.

One of the things that people need the most, but is in short supply is... hope. They need more than just hope, though. They need hope that's backed up by action. They need to be equipped with knowledge, skills, tools, and encouragement to succeed, so they can develop and execute a vision for their lives that is greater than what they may have ever thought was possible.

There is no problem in this world that cannot be solved with the right combination of faith in God, passion, ideas, time, money, and perseverance. The question is are you going to be a "problem-peddler" or a problem-solver? I hope you will choose the latter.

Join me today to visioneer practical solutions that will empower millions of people to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


Check out these other articles related to this topic:

1) What Really is Empowerment?

2) Social Entrepreneurship Resources

3) Entrepreneurs Who are Changing the World

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Visioneering Diversity Value

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I first heard the term "visioneering" a few years ago, as it was used by author Andy Stanley for a book which he wrote using that word as his title. He defines visioneering as the engineering of a vision, and he defines vision as a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.

I believe a lot of people have the ability to envision a picture of what they think something should be. Unfortunately, a lot fewer of them are able to transform their visions into reality. Visioneers on the other hand have the ability to visualize incredible value in opportunities that others may not see. However, they don't stop at "pie in the sky" thinking and ideas. They are able to engineer practical solutions that bring value and success to the situations that they encounter.

My vision for Supplier Diversity is that eventually there would be no need for this department, because it would be so integrated into a company's operations that oversight and advocacy would not be necessary. This vision is driven by my conviction that diverse businesses, when given the right opportunities, are just as capable of providing high quality, competitive products and services as majority owned businesses are. One way to engineer this vision is to have more effective Supplier Diversity programs in corporations.

Based on the changing demographics, increasing buying power, and upsurging business growth in minority groups, companies today should be even more embracing of Supplier Diversity than they currently are. Yet from my experience as a Supplier Diversity coach and consultant, many hearts and minds still need to be convinced of the value that Supplier Diversity adds to corporations.

Supplier Diversity is one of the main areas in organizations that is often overlooked in terms of adding value to the bottom line. Consequently, it is often relegated to the back burner as it relates to a company's corporate strategy. This initiative still gets the compliance treatment in many companies, i.e. "we're doing it because we're being forced to do it." Nevertheless, this area is an untapped source of value and innovation which corporations need to explore, especially with the constantly increasing pressures to grow in this demanding global business environment.

One of reasons that Supplier Diversity is in this situation is the fact that the success of most of these programs is too often determined by performance measures that are irrelevant and detached from the company's other operational and financial goals. This only does Supplier Diversity a disservice and further alienates it from other "important" initiatives that are happening in the company (this is also one of the key reasons why human and financial resources are scarce for most Supplier Diversity departments). It's no wonder that the employees and minority businesses associated with this area carry the stigma that this is a just social program or is only driven by compliance requirements.

If planned, developed, and executed with the right perspective, Supplier Diversity can be a significant contributor to a company's operational, financial, and economic development goals. To make this happen, though, the same rigor and intensity in terms of developing and executing a strategic plan has to be applied to Supplier Diversity just as it is in other areas of the company. This initiative must be given the same consideration and held up to the same standards as other departments in regards to structure, processes, productivity, systems, standards, resource allocation, and performance measures (especially those other than spend dollars).

If visioneered effectively, Supplier Diversity can be an incredibly powerful vehicle to drive creativity and entrepreneurial thinking. Just like other suppliers, diverse businesses increase supply chain capacity and flexibility, drive innovation, deliver cost savings, and provide market intelligence. Key initiatives that can be enhanced through Supplier Diversity's intentional integration are strategic sourcing, marketing, product design, operational improvements, organizational change, economic development, and community outreach, among others.

With this being the case, companies can actually gain a competitive advantage by developing and adhering to purchasing processes that are inclusive of all types of qualified suppliers. The more open a company is to allowing diverse businesses to compete on a level playing field, the more they will prosper from the power of inclusion.

Supplier Diversity is one of the greatest untapped resources for economic growth in corporate America. Right now, though, the onus is on Supplier Diversity to prove their value to corporations beyond the social and compliance aspects. I will steal a line from one of our former Presidents and say, "Ask not what your company can do for Supplier Diversity. Instead ask what Supplier Diversity can do for your company." Don't just say it, but prove to those with the financial resources that Supplier Diversity adds significant value.

Supplier Diversity managers and minority business owners need to figure out new, creative ways of thinking, operating, and working together so that they can to help make these programs contribute more measurable value to corporations' operational, financial, and economic development goals. Only then will Supplier Diversity get the focus, respect, and resources it needs to operate as a truly strategic, value-adding initiative.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.


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Africa: Continent of Economic Opportunity

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If you have read any of my previous posts about Africa, such as "Entrepreneurs Needed in Africa", you know how passionate I am about Africa and my desire to use entrepreneurship as a driver to empower the people of Africa economically and socially. Now, there is a book available that brings to life the accomplishments and triumphs of African entrepreneurs.

STE Publishers has just published Africa: Continent of Economic Opportunity by David S. Fick. This rollercoaster of a book is bursting with innovation and ideas and will change your view of Africa forever(click here to get the book at Amazon.com).

The development of Africa is a subject that concerns not only the continent but the rest of the world. Having travelled extensively throughout the world and researched this book for six years, David Fick remains optimistic about the future. Everywhere, he has seen how small businesses are creating jobs and transforming economies.

In Africa: Continent of Economic Opportunity, Fick shows how a wide range of businesses in Africa are succeeding in spite of enormous social and economic challenges. He presents a vast and diverse array of case studies of small, medium and large business enterprises and community projects in every country throughout the continent, showing how all citizens of this extraordinary continent can become successful with a little imagination, education and persistence.

Fick is also the author of Entrepreneurship in Africa: A Study of Successes (click here to get the book at Amazon.com) and is currently researching his third book, African Entrepreneurs in the 21st Century (coming in 2008), which will feature examples of African entrepreneurs who have demonstrated visionary and strategic entrepreneurial leadership across the continent.

Furthermore, Fick donates all author's royalties due to him from the sale of his first - and this, his second - book to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in support of their medical relief projects in Africa and will do the same when his third book is published.

If you are even remotely interested in the growth and sustainable development of Africa, especially through entrepreneurial ventures, I would highly recommend David's books.

Empowering Champions,
Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Overcoming Sales F.E.A.R.

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Inc.com recently published an article online entitled, "Are You Sales Phobic?". I was thinking about this article in the context of one of my recent blog postings, "Conquering F.E.A.R." This topic of fear as it relates to business is close to me, because I have to admit that although I'm an entrepreneur, I'm not a salesperson at heart. In fact, for many years I shunned sales jobs, because I disdained the image of one of those slick, overbearing salespeople, who "force" themselves on people with gadgets or services that they probably didn't want or need. That wasn't who I was or who I wanted to be known as.

What I eventually learned is that I had the wrong perspective about sales... and maybe you do too. Even when I first started my consulting and training business, I was naive and didn't fully embrace the fact that entrepreneurs are really salespeople (and if they don't think they are, they won't be in business for very long). I was hoping that all of the relationships that I had developed while I was working in my corporate job would come chasing after me once they found out I was a "free agent". To my dismay and disappointment, that didn't happen. I soon realized that I had to... ugh... sell to them.

Until recently I had not associated my aversion to sales as fear. One reason is because fear can look very subtle in sales. For example, fear could be displayed as apprehension, avoidance, procrastination, self-sabotage, lack of confidence, or indecisiveness. Personally, whenever I was in a situation where I felt the pressure to sell something, all of a sudden I become tense, robotic, anxious, and unsure of myself. This was in total contrast to my typical personality. I naturally enjoyed engaging with people and I didn't have a problem striking up conversations with complete strangers. I realized something had to change if I was going to be successful as an entrepreneur.

Then one day I was at a leadership conference and I heard one of the speakers give his definition of sales. He said that sales is simply offering something to someone that they need. This simple yet profound statement impacted me unlike any sales seminar or book that I had experienced prior to that. My overall perspective, attitude, and approach to customers was totally changed after that. I realized that sales was not about me trying to convince my customers to buy something that I had to sell. It is about me offering something of value to them that they need - even if they don't realize yet that they need it.

Even with this new understanding, I still had to work to get over my fear of sales. I also had to get comfortable with who I was as a salesperson and how to sell most effectively. One way to help cope with the fear of selling is to discover your sales style, because everyone doesn't do sales the same way.

According to Ray Silverstein, there are three basic categories of salespeople, Finders, Minders, and Grinders (click here to read article). Regardless of what sales style that you have, the common denominator between each of these styles is the ability to build relationships with customers. The key differentiator between the different sales styles is the time frame of the execution of the sales process.

As I assessed at myself while reading his article, I realized that my personality and style places me mostly into the Minder category. One of my strengths is building and maintaining positive relationships. I'm not quite as strong at getting a lot of sales in short periods of time. This is critical information for me to know, because it helps me to define the type of strategy that I need to employ to build relationships with customers that will grow my business.

Business is all about relationships. If you don't know how to build and maintain relationships, you will fail in business. There are three basic principles which are crucial to you overcoming your fear of selling and growing a successful business or career. You must get your customers to: 1) know you, 2) like you, and 3) trust you. Knowing and practicing these three key principles will enable you to build profitable relationships that will fuel your sales success. Let's take a closer look at these principles.

1) Know you - Your reputation is your personal brand and is the most valuable asset that you have. Your customers will know you by the quality of your character and interaction with them. Developing genuine, authentic connections with your customer will enable you to be known by a positive reputation.

2) Like you - The Bible says that those who want friends must show themselves to be friendly. Are you likable (i.e. personality, character, attitude)? Are you easy to get along with and easy to talk to? You need to demonstrate a genuine concern for your customer's needs. Helping your customer like you as a human being will get you even further as a salesperson.

3) Trust you - Trust can take a long time to establish. The number one thing that you can do to establish trust is to keep your word, because integrity is non-negotiable. Under-promise and over-deliver. Don't give in to the pressure to meet a sales quota at the expense of compromising your relationship with your customer.

Whether you are working for yourself or for a company, when you engage customers you are really selling yourself. Stay true to who you are. Don't try to fit into someone else's vision of a salesperson if that doesn't fit your character or personality. Just because a certain technique works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you too. Also, recognize that everyone is not your customer, because they may not need what you have have to offer. You need to be OK with that.

You are uniquely you. Use your own character traits to your advantage as you build long-term, profitable relationships with current and potential customers. Don't let fear or anything else keep you from positively impacting the people that need what you have to offer!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resource Articles:

"Are You Sales Phobic?" by Allison Stein Wellner http://www.inc.com/magazine/20070301/salesmarketing-psychology.html

"Finder, Minder or Grinder: What's Your Sales Style?" by Ray Silverstein
http://www.entrepreneur.com/sales/salescolumnistraysilverstein/article180900.html

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Empowerment Engagements

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Over the last several months I have been considering different ways, in addition to Biznovations.net, through which I can empower you more effectively. So, it is with great anticipation and excitement that I am officially launching Empowerment Engagements™ Keynote and Workshop Series. Utilizing interactive forums and inspirational environments, I bring fresh perspectives and powerful applications to the areas of leadership, personal empowerment, entrepreneurship, and social responsibility.

Empowerment Engagements have been designed specifically to address the needs and challenges of entrepreneurs and leaders in corporations and non-profits. These motivational, power-packed sessions include:

1) Supplier Diversity Visioneering
  • Profit from the power of inclusion by infusing your Supplier Diversity initiative with innovation and efficiency that will provide greater contributions to your company's operational, financial, and economic development goals. This session can be delivered as part of a Supplier Diversity training or communications initiative. Click here to learn more about innovation in Supplier Diversity.

2) Successful Supply Chain Selling
  • Small businesses accelerate your sales growth by strategically repositioning and leveraging your company's strengths to align with your customer's supply chain needs. This workshop can be delivered as part of a Supplier Diversity small business development training program.

3)
Leadership in HD
  • Empower your team to thrive and your organization to grow by unleashing the diversity, power, flexibility and creativity of entrepreneurial leadership. Click here to learn more about entrepreneurial leadership.

4)
Prospering On Purpose
  • Entrepreneurs flourish in your life mission and calling by developing and launching a passionately purposeful mission driven business. Click here to learn more about mission driven entrepreneurship.

If you would like to schedule one of these Empowerment Engagements for your company, non-profit, church, school, or youth group, please contact me at empowerment@biznovations.net.

I am very excited about these new opportunities to help you maximize your potential and have a greater impact in your spheres of influence. I look forward to engaging with you.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Conquering F.E.A.R.

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The pace of life and business seems to be steadily increasing. With this increased pace, making positive decisions becomes more challenging, because there is less time to process critical information needed to make those decisions. Fortunately, God foresaw this, creating within our bodies an intricate rapid response system that we utilize to make quick decisions on the fly.

Our bodies are equipped with a mechanism called adrenal glands, which control our "fight or flight" reactions when we encounter threatening situations. Most times these decisions are made in fractions of a second. In his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell provides an interesting perspective on our ability and propensity to make split second decisions. His premise is that we constantly make instantaneous decisions based on a two second first impression of a situation. He explains that this ability to make quick decisions works to our advantage in some situations, and to our disadvantage in others.

While our adrenal glands are quite effective in helping us determine instantaneously whether to fight or flee, they are not quite as useful when it comes to situations when we are given a space of time to make a decision. The negative impact of this is that people have a tendency to make more "flight" decisions when immediacy is not required. It seems that the more time that people have to ponder their situations, the more time they spend focusing on the downside risks rather than the upside potential.

The reality is that running a business or simply living life is all about effectively managing risks. An essential part of managing risks is taking them when necessary. However, if you are unwilling to take any risks, your business or your life will not flourish like it could. There is one main culprit that can be blamed for people's aversion to risk and assertive decision making. Fear.

Fear paralyzes people and constrains their decision making process considerably. Fear can even keep people from taking low impact risks. Whether it be fear of failure, fear of success, fear of other people’s opinions, or fear of the unknown, this is a powerful emotion that can sap the courage out of the strongest people. Regardless, fear can be conquered no matter how intimidating a situation may be.

People who achieve great things in life and business have learned how to conquer their fears. You must learn how to do the same if you are going to have significant accomplishments in your life or business.

Here are some practical steps that you can engage during those situations when you are tempted to give in to your fears. Continually practicing these steps will also help you to make better decisions in shorter amounts of time.

Focus on your vision:
  • Keep your thoughts aimed at your dream with a laser like intensity.
  • Don't be distracted by things that don't align with your vision.
  • Focusing on your future can provide you the motivation to move past your fear (Imagine what will happen to your vision if you don't move past your fear).

Evaluate the obstacle(s):
  • Assess whether your obstacles are real or perceived. Sometimes what we consider an obstacle is nothing more than a menial distraction.
  • Determine what you have control over - including your attitude - and what you don't. Quit worrying about things you can't control.
  • Seek wise counsel from those who have faced similar obstacles, so that you can determine whether to attack it or ignore it.

Attack the enemy that's “in-a-me”:
  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. Your fight is often internal (i.e. thoughts, emotions, and desires) before it becomes external.
  • Recognize that you have the potential to do great things. If you don’t believe that you can win your fight, then typically you won’t.
  • Forget your past mistakes and don’t allow negative memories to poison your perspective.

Respond to the challenge:
  • Courage is not the absence of fear, instead it’s recognizing your fear and engaging in the battle in spite of it. You may even be fueled by it.
  • Learn from your previous victories and use them as stepping stones to move ahead.
  • If you’re going to fail, at least do it moving forward. Rarely have I seen a fight won by a person who was running away.

A key point to remember is that just because you are able to make quick decisions, doesn't mean they are always the best decisions. The more you practice practical decision making in situations where you are challenged by fear, the better your decision making will be when it needs to be instantaneous.

Pursue your dreams with persistence, patience, perseverance, and passion. Face your fears confidently and assertively. Don’t let anyone or anything, especially fear, stop you from accomplishing all of which you are capable.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Mission Driven Entrepreneurship

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In the past few years social entrepreneurship has been getting a lot of attention as an innovative method to help alleviate certain social ills, including poverty, homelessness, lack of education and illiteracy, sub-standard health care, environmental issues, and starvation and malnutrition, among other things. In the future, even more attention is sure to be focused on this area, because the founder of a very successful for-profit social enterprise won a Nobel Prize in 2006.

I agree that social entrepreneurship can be used strategically to help alleviate some of society's most challenging issues. I also believe there is another kind of entrepreneurship that can have an even greater impact on society, including those who practice it. I call this mission driven entrepreneurship.

I understand that most if not all businesses have a mission statement. However, that's not the kind of mission that I'm talking about here. I'm referring to a person's life mission or calling. Another way to say it is the unique assignment that God gives to every person before they are even born. Accordingly, I define a mission driven entrepreneur as one who pursues and fulfills their life mission through the operation of an enterprise that seeks to maximize profits and positively impact social issues.

One key characteristic of a mission driven entrepreneur is their understanding that having passion for a particular issue is necessary, but it's not enough by itself to make a venture successful. Many people start businesses in areas that they are passionate about, but they fail, because they don't understand or execute critical business fundamentals. These entrepreneurs understand that their passion for an issue should align with their life mission, and be able to be incorporated into a business model that is viable in the marketplace.

A second characteristic of mission driven entrepreneurs is their realization that just having excellent business skills is not enough either. Mission driven entrepreneurs attack social issues holistically, utilizing a complex blend of business savvy, practicality, creativity, innovation, passion, compassion, patience, and money. They are big picture thinkers, but can also engineer efficient solutions that bring measurable results. They are consumed by the purpose of their work, because their work fits within the context of their life purpose and mission.

Another key characteristic of mission driven entrepreneurs is their focus on profitability. Although, a mission driven entrepreneur could start a non-profit, a growing number of them focus on developing for-profit enterprises. These entrepreneurs strategically grow their businesses to make a lot of money, but not for that sole purpose. Their goal in producing great amounts of wealth is to have the resources to make a more significant impact on the social issues within their spheres of interest and influence.

I am a perfect example of this concept with the consulting and training company that I founded, Wilson Innovation Alliance. One of our strategic objectives is to improve the economic conditions in under-privileged communities. We partner with community agencies, business organizations, and corporations to train people on how to start and grow successful mission driven enterprises.

Our short-term goal is to empower people by helping them to develop profitable ventures that can benefit them and their families. Our long-term goal is to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to create more jobs in those communities that lead to greater levels of economic and social empowerment. With the the right amount of resources, strategies, innovation, and commitment, I believe that mission driven entrepreneurial concepts can be used in impoverished communities throughout the U.S. and around the world. The result will be people who are enabled and equipped to improve their living conditions and reach their potential. (Read my profile to learn more about my life mission).

Many people spend their entire lives chasing after their purpose, and never realize it was within them all along. Others spend an inordinate amount of time and energy chasing money and achievement, but never find fulfillment. Mission driven entrepreneurship allows for the healthy pursuit of both with the understanding that money is simply a means to an end, not the end in itself. If you're going to be an entrepreneur, do it in a way that brings fulfillment to you and positive benefits to others. Become a mission driven entrepreneur!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.


Resources:

1) Read this article to learn more about social entrepreneurship.

2) Go to FastCompany.com to find a list of successful social enterprises, many of which were founded by mission driven entrepreneurs.

3) For those who are pursuing faith-based ventures that impact your local community, check out this web site: http://www.sba.gov/fbci/.

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Take the Leap

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Recent research shows that in 2006 a record number of new businesses were started in the United States. While people have varying reasons for starting a new venture - necessity, desire, or curiosity - there is something magnetic and energizing about owning and operating an enterprise of one's own creation.

Nevertheless, starting a new business is still a risky venture. Well over 90% of small businesses fail within 5 years of getting started. Many people jump into business with their hearts and leave behind their heads. They believe that just because they have a good idea, customers will automatically come clamoring for them. Small business success is not automatic. Besides a good idea, it takes good planning, good fortune, good timing, and other good things to grow a prosperous company.

Many small businesses fail because the business owner was unprepared for the unpredictability of running a business. I want to make sure that if you're considering starting a business that you are well-equipped to do so. Here's my Top 10 list for what you need to do before starting that dream-inspired venture:

  1. Rehire your imagination - If you stopped dreaming back in your childhood, it's time to start again. You're going to need your creative thinking abilities more than ever before.
  2. Do your research - Success comes when preparation meets opportunity. Knowing your customer's needs, desires, and preferences prior to engaging them will allow you to connect with them more quickly and move you further ahead than just trying to "wing it."
  3. Write your plan - What doesn't get written usually doesn't get accomplished. Furthermore, it's easier to critique something that's on paper versus something that's just in your head.
  4. Establish SMART goals and milestones - Be realistic and determine what short and long term success looks like.
  5. Align with key people - Entrepreneurship is not for "lone rangers." For you to succeed over the long haul, you will need to develop key relationships with high-quality people who want you to succeed.
  6. Get wise counsel - Two things you need to do a lot of are listening and reading. Learning from someone else's failures is a lot less painful than having to learn from your own.
  7. Gather your resources - Do an inventory of your time, money, relationships, knowledge, ideas, materials, etc. Identify the gaps, comparing what you have versus what you need. Figure out some creative ways for reducing those gaps.
  8. Be flexible – Have a contingency plan, because your original idea might not work out exactly how you initially planned it.
  9. Bob and weave - Your marketplace can be a formidable opponent. Be ready to roll with the punches that are thrown at you and counter-punch when needed.
  10. Jump! - Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is feeling fear and doing what you need to do anyway!

There is one more key point I want to leave with you. Enjoy the journey. Remember, often times more is gained along the way to the goal, than in just reaching the goal itself. If you're ready... take the leap. I look forward to your success!

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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Get the Kink Out of Your Think!

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Your thoughts drive your beliefs, which drive your choices, which form your lifestyle, which determines your destiny.

There is a scripture in the Bible that reads, "A double minded person is unstable in all their ways" (James 1:6, paraphrased). A practical understanding of this scripture would be a person driving a car who is looking out the back window while driving the car forward. Unless he turns around and commits all of his attention to the same direction the car is going, he is going to crash.

Many people live their lives or run their businesses this way. Rather than focusing their mental energy and attention in positive areas, they spend too much time battling conflicting thoughts and perspectives. This type of battle usually results in confusion, frustration, and fatigue. They exist in a constant state of mental and emotional conflict.

What you focus on the most is what you will become. Contrary to what many people will admit, we all talk to ourselves. That's not the issue, though. The issue is what we are saying when we talk to ourselves. If we spend all our time reinforcing the negative thoughts that come to us, then most of the outcomes of our lives - which are really the sum of the decisions that we make - will be negative. However, if we spend more time dismissing those negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, then the outcome of our lives will be much more favorable.

You are what you eat. This is not just a principle of your physical health. It's also a principle of your mental health. You simply can't eat a mental junk food diet and stay mentally healthy. If you consistently feed your mind with media or conversations that are full of negative and destructive words, actions, and images, then you will spend a lot of your time dealing with negativity in your mind. Conversely, if you spend more of your time filling your mind with positive or constructive words, actions, and images, it will be much easier for you to engage positive thoughts to counterattack the negative thoughts when they come. The result is that over time, your actions will prove to be more constructive rather than destructive for yourself and others.

Know thyself, feed thyself. Many people say their media intake doesn't affect their behavior, yet over time their actions become a representation of what they have been eating. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good for you. Similar to a world-class athlete who disciplines her body to beat her competition, you must condition your mind to beat your competition in business and in life. You will not be able eat what everyone else is eating and stay ahead of them at the same time. If you want to move beyond your competition, you have to do things differently.

Some key benefits of feeding your mind a healthy diet include:

  1. Convictions - These are the collection of your non-negotiable core values and beliefs, which over time are influenced by your thoughts. A steady, healthy mental diet will allow you to develop personal integrity and a firm foundation of values on which to build your life.

  2. Clarity - Conflicting thoughts create confusion. Clarity comes when you are able to streamline your thoughts by deflecting negative thoughts with positive ones. You will then be able to find a clear direction when making key decisions.

  3. Confidence - It is difficult to be confident in challenging situations when you have unstable values and/or internal conflicts that cloud your direction. Being able to solidify your convictions and find your true direction allows you to develop boldness and a relentless "I will not lose" attitude in the face of adversity.
To get the kink out of your think, change your intake. Be very selective with what you watch, what you listen to, who you listen to, and what you read. Eat only those things that will build and edify your character and propel your life in a positive direction. You will gain the courage you need to make positively powerful decisions that benefit you and those connected to you.

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.






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Mirror Mirror

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Most people are familiar with the fairy tale of Snow White. In this story, her beautiful, yet vain step-mother queen had a magic mirror, which could answer the questions that she asked of it. Of course, the most well-known question that she would ask was, "Mirror, mirror upon the wall, who is the fairest of all?" Initially, the mirror would tell her that she was. However, as time went on Snow White became more beautiful and the mirror began to answer that she was more beautiful than the queen. Of course, as many of these stories go, the jealous queen became furious and wanted to kill Snow White.

How does this story relate to entrepreneurs and leaders? Business is a never-ending life and death cycle. You must embrace the fact that as good as you might be today, eventually there will come along someone else who is a little bit better. Their product might be a little bit cheaper, higher quality, easier to use, more customized, faster, etc. Regardless, if you aren't continually getting better your business will eventually die. The moment you think that you have “arrived” (i.e., I’m the best and can’t get much better) is the moment that you start to decline.

The fact is many companies that existed 10 or 20 years ago are not around today, with some having had their customers taken by start-up businesses. And many of those who are still around have business models that are much different than what they had before. Your customers' needs and desires are not stagnant, so you as a business owner can't be stagnant with enhancing your product quality and features, customer service, and professional skills.

The truth is the quality of your work product reflects your character. Your product or service is an extension of who you are. So, people aren't just buying your product, they're buying into you. They're buying into your vision, values, and goals. Based on the way many businesses are run today, your character can be a competitive advantage. Therefore, your personal development is just as important as your professional development, if not more.

You must be willing to ask yourself hard questions. When your competition starts encroaching on your customers and they start leaving for something or someone else, like the evil queen in the story, do you think of ways to "take out" or undercut your competition? Or do you think of ways that you can get better at what you do? Are you providing the absolute best quality to your customers or are you cutting corners? Are you investing the time to become an expert in your craft or are you coasting?

Those who experience long-term success embrace a continuous improvement mindset. They understand that if they want to maintain success, they don't have time to rest on yesterday's successes or today's accolades. Successful people view their past and present experiences as building blocks not a plateau.

Every day you must be willing to look in the mirror to assess the good, the bad, the indifferent, and then go work on yourself. The pursuit of personal and professional development is a race that never ends. As the African proverb states, "It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running!"

Empowering Champions,

Paul Wilson, Jr.

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