7 Fail-Proof Ways To Avoid The Plague Of The Status Quo

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When I think about life in total, our stay is a short one. I think we would all like to believe time is on our side, and to a certain extent it is. Life is crowded and full of ‘Stuff’ that we do every day. But my question is, “is the stuff that we do changing us, changing others or making a difference? – even if it’s for our own selfish needs?”

What I’ve noticed is a lot us are neither selfish, nor self-less as we seem to fall somewhere in the grayness of the middle. I think we do this because we get too used to our own routine (whether good or bad), and hit the repeat button every day… like robots.

The truth is, it is much easier to stay with the routine than it is to break the tractor beam of the status quo. It’s as though you are in a trance and the mother ship has beckoned you to fall in line and follow others. It reminds me of the movie, The Equilibrium, where everybody was, well, the same… and they were punished for doing anything other than the norm.

Audacious or Crazy?

I was an early bloomer when it came to breaking the status quo as, when I think back, it was a fairly audacious move when I started out running my first business with MJ. Becoming an entrepreneur during my senior year of college was not my plan and neither was leaving school to become one. The timing sucked. Shipping orders and studying for tests just don’t mix well together, and when you throw a lot of money and risk into the equation, studying just doesn’t have the importance that it once had before.

What I came to understand was that it wasn’t an audacious move for me – the people around me thought it was audacious and probably crazy, but if Steve Jobs, The Wright Brothers, and Henry Ford were called crazy, I’ll gladly wear that title as well.

Finding The Lost Tribe

 I’m a believer that journeys lead to other great discoveries. While in college, MJ and I were a unique occurrence among the status quo, which consisted of students trying to get good grades and eventually move on to a career in their field. We started out just like everyone else, but were drawn into a different direction that seemed more worthwhile and expressive of what we wanted to do for a living.

As you could imagine, there weren’t many people who could relate, or have perspective on what we were doing – initially. As we started to spend more time outside of the college environment,  we began to build connections to other entrepreneurs across several types of business. It was like finding our lost tribe because we were able to gain more perspective on what we were doing.

We began to understand why we were able to break the ‘tractor beam’ of the status quo. It wasn’t because we were born that way, or that we were brought up to think that way. It wasn’t about being different, for the sake of being different. It was simply seeing and believing in possibilities that others may have thought of as pure fiction. If that’s audacious – then so be it.

Being Audacious and Fearless

We can not grow walking a path that has beaten down and trampled by others as that path becomes hard as a rock. You will come to find out that at the end of that path is an endless line filled with people that look, think and act the same. New paths are forged with fresh new foot-prints – ones where the lines are short or non-existent.

So, how do we become more audacious and fearless?  Here are 7 fail-proof ways you can start working on, right now!

1)  Develop Your Dreams (Big or Small) – The 1st and most important step is having a dream or idea worth pursuing… Something that will get you out of bed everyday excited. Your dream has to spark you enough that you will invest your time in learning all you can about it.

2)  Be Yourself – Like this quote says, “One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.” Fighting the status quo is hard but bringing out your true self will eventually showcase your uniqueness.

3)  Challenge Your Past – Your past doesn’t equal your future. Being tied to your story will keep you thinking and acting like you always have. To break that, you must gradually re-write a different story that supports your new outlook.

4)  Accept A New Future – Part of re-writing your past is simultaneously accepting and believing in a new future. Your ability to make the future as real as possible will inevitably be your guiding light to success.

5)  Live with Integrity – Integrity is not some general rule that all should live by. Integrity is what you have developed, and the standards that you live by. Simply said, “Integrity is what we say, what we do, and what we say we do,” – Don Galer

6)  Own the Successes and Failures – It’s easy to blame others for bad outcomes in our lives, and it’s just as easy to give ourselves credit for the good ones. Own everything! This will enable you to take responsibility for your own outcomes.

7)  Plan and Take Action – Planning is what brings our future into reality. “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” This quote is one that you should have on re-dial because planning takes consistency and discipline – that’s half the battle!

Today I challenge you to re-assess your career and life plans. Here are some questions to consider…

Have you been just going through the motions, or have you been challenging yourself to uncover who and what you want to be?

Are you making the sacrifices necessary to succeed, or have you decided not to give up the things that will not make your dreams into reality?

Are you confronting fear with courage, or is fear ruling your ability to start, continue and succeed at the goals and aspirations you have set for yourself?

Ask these questions, give yourself some honest answers, and just maybe you will not only survive the status quo plague, but thrive among it!

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry!

Gary

 

 

Daymond John’s Creative Hustle- When Forty Bucks Makes You A Millionaire

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Yesterday I had a great time meeting up with my man Daymond John from Shark Tank for a new series I am doing at Forbes with Cheryl Snapp Connor, Mary Michelle Scott, and David Williams.

I want to share a quick story about one of the things I admire most about Daymond. It is what I call extreme creative hustle. Truth is, Daymond has always had extreme hustle. If you don’t want to take my word for it read his book which tells his story.

I am currently reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David & Goliath, which talks about how many people turn their advantages into weakness, while others turn disadvantages into strengths. Daymond used his biggest disadvantage in the very beginning of FUBU (lack of money) and very creatively and strategically moved it into great strength… with the help of his washing machine (will explain in a moment).

Daymond’s Creative Hustle

He started the business in his garage in Queens. He had nothing but a few random pieces in his line. A friend of his (LL Cool J) had achieved mega-stardom as a rap artist, and Daymond used his powers of persuasion to convince him to wear the product.

Daymond knew he could not stop with LL Cool J alone and needed to wardrobe more recording artists and celebrities in order to establish further credibility in the market. The challenge was that there were tons of artists, but Daymond only had a few samples. Implementing his creative hustle, he devised a strategy. He would take the few samples he had, have the celebrities wear them at their events, videos and concerts, then he would take them back, wash them (or dry clean them) and re-circulate them to other entertainers. I remember when I met him back in 1996, he walked into the conference room where I was and he gave me a VHS tape (yes VHS) to play. I put it on and saw every entertainer in our market wearing FUBU. I couldn’t believe my eyes! How in the world could he have done that???

As his product became visible in the media, he closed a deal with one of the largest corporations in the world who became his strategic partner (who happened to be my partner as well). The rest is history.

Note: To view all articles in this blog on startups, click startup advice

When It’s NOT About Money

Did Daymond go after the money at first? Absolutely not. What he did do was create something that nobody else had and no investor in his or her right mind could ignore. He created the sizzle. So much sizzle, anyone in their right minds should have invested… but all he needed was one company… and he got it.

Why do I know all of this? Because the company that signed the deal with his company simultaneously dropped their deal with me when the demand for FUBU put them in the position where they couldn’t afford to give us both the necessary attention… so I know the situation rather intimately. They actually gave Gary and I the opportunity to jump on board but we stubbornly refused, as we let our emotions and our egos cloud our judgment. If you want to learn about that story, read how my ego destroyed my business. 

So Why Forty Bucks?

If someone were to advertise their brand in a magazine during that time, it may cost thirty thousand dollars. If they wanted to run a thirty-second ad on television, it may cost them several hundred thousand dollars for one single exposure. So, what would it cost to run a ten-minute commercial on prime time television once a month for, say a year? If your math is at all good, it may cost well let’s see…. Ten minutes into thirty seconds is twenty, multiplied times twelve times for the year, multiplied times a few hundred thousand…. Almost fifty million bucks… give or take a few million.

Well, Daymond got the that ten-minute commercial and infinitely more, as his product appeared quite a bit more than twelve times a year…actually, a lot more. FUBU was worn on prime-time television shows, music videos, cable stations, you name it. Hundreds of hours of footage.

Note: To view articles for entrepreneurs starting a business, click help for entrepreneurs 

So what do you think it cost him? Fifty million? Perhaps forty million since they gave him a volume discount? Try about forty bucks. I say forty bucks as that was about the cost he paid to make a sweatshirt for a celebrity to wear on a show or a video. Most of the times it was a t-shirt or a hat so it cost even less. Remember, he was washing (or dry cleaning) the few samples he had and re-circulating them, as he didn’t have the money at first to make tons of samples.

Not a bad price for exposing your product to hundreds of millions of people… and that, in my opinion, was the Tipping Point for him (thanks again Mr. Gladwell).

Flip Your Disadvantages Into Strengths

Think about your disadvantages and think about how you can turn those disdvantages into strengths. If you look hard enough, you will find the answer.

Many people think the advantage is the money. This example should show how that is most often not the case. From my experience, the biggest advantage is hustle, and if ever there was a person with hustle, it would be Daymond.

Have a great day!

MJ

NOTE: 

David Williams owns a super company called Fishbowl Inventory, has a weekly column on Forbes, and wrote an incredible book which you can read about here.

Mary Michelle Scott is President of Fishbowl Inventory and collaborates with David each week in Forbes. You can find out more about Mary and Fishbowl, here .

Cheryl Snapp Connor is Chairman of Snapp Connor PR. You can find out more about her here .

The 7 Key Ingredients To Create An Unstoppable Power Partnership

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I’ve had a partner in business for the majority of twenty years. In my opinion, one of the single greatest benefits of having a business partner is knowing that I have someone who is not only there in times of success, but also by my side in the trenches when times get tough. That is a feeling that only those who have great partners can relate to. But that only scratches the surface of a successful business marriage.

Just like in personal relationships, careful deliberation is the order of the day. I’ve found that most partnerships are either formed by way of creating a synergy of two existing entities to produce a dynamic outcome, or it comes from a personal standpoint – which is how it happened for me. MJ (my business partner) and I have been partners in a number of different ventures since 1991.

Match Made in Heaven

Our first venture was in college where we built an apparel company that eventually sold merchandise to the best retailers in the country. Our foundation was formed at a very early point in our entrepreneurial careers. We were just two excited guys glad to be doing something new and exciting. Since we didn’t know what to really expect, there wasn’t a lot of pressure initially – just two guys going for it. As the business got more complicated, we gradually understood what each other’s strong points were and divided the responsibilities up accordingly.

Fast forward twenty plus years and our partnership is based on the same things as it was back then – trust, integrity and FUN.

My significant other, and yes, I’m talking about MJ not my wife. Sad isn’t? Or maybe just plain pathetic!  But none-the-less true – I talk to him more than my wife and have probably gone out to dinner with him more as well – yikes!

Power Partnerships Defined

So, how do I define a great partnership? Well if this sounds personal… it’s meant to sound that way – here we go:

1) PassionInevitably a partnership has to start (and end) with both parties possessing equal passion for the business or idea. I believe passion is a mandatory component to create any successful venture.

2) In It To Win It (All In)–  It’s a great feeling to know that your partner is all in and will do whatever it takes to make the business succeed. This often means doing things under pressure situations and under extreme duress. This all in attitude fortifies your posture of being an unbeatable team!

3) Dedication & Commitment To GreatnessWe’ve seen how Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created one of the greatest companies in American history, and that takes both partners pushing each other to be better and innovate at the highest level. It’s not about being good, it’s about being great.

4) Respect And HonestyThis goes without saying but deserves saying again. When honesty is lost, dissension bears its ugly head. A lack of respect causes the partnership to rot from the inside out. Conversely, having mutual respect for one another and being honest creates a path to success and acts as an investment each other’s outcomes. There is nothing I am afraid to tell MJ and the same holds true the other way around.

5) Appreciate The Differences You will never see everything through the eyes of your partner. As the old saying goes, ‘Focus on what enriches your relationship, not simply what reflects it.’ Appreciate your differences! MJ and I certainly do not agree all the time. Some may feel this is not good. To us, it’s how we grow. Being able to be willing to view a situation from the perspective of your partner will stretch your comfort zone and make you a better company if you have the respect I mentioned above, and you are open and willing to not always be Mr or Mrs. Right.

6) CommunicationJust like personal relationships, communication is the foundation of a partnership. At the very least, great communication will improve awareness, reduce tension, and create better decision making. At the very best, it makes the company work like a well-oiled machine.

7) Humor – The final component of a great power partnership is the necessity to have fun. In order for a business to last, the partners must enjoy the process of running a business. Not a day goes by that MJ and I are not cracking each other up over one thing or another. Humor is a necessity. Why? Because life is too short not to have fun.

One quick note on egos… Egos destroy businesses. I personally don’t think MJ and I have egos as we believe there is tremendous strength in humility. We weren’t always like that but I like to think we are now. What I can say, however, is if egos are involved, be sure to leave them before you walk through the door so you can reach your goals without interference and unwarranted roadblocks.

Summing It All Up

As you can see, business relationships mirror personal relationships in several aspects. At the heart of all business relationships, small or big, are human beings. Understanding what makes each other tick is an essential tool in being a successful duo. MJ happens to love working very early in the morning. I, on the other hand love to work late into the night. Because of this, we are open for business from early morning to late at night.

When you start thinking about entering into a partnership, ask yourself, what do I want in a partner? Draw up a profile of your partner, and use it as a reference. Going into a partnership based on feelings and gut can be your undoing and create massive setbacks. Think marriage. As we all know, entering a marriage on a bad foundation is costly – both time and money. Nothing is perfect, but you have to understand what you can live with and what you can’t.

If you’re already in a partnership that has it’s challenges, address it immediately. Let the person(s) know what you expect and open up the conversation. Find out what they expect. Often times your expectations are similar, but have gone off-course for some reason. It’s your job to get understanding, so you can right the ship.

Work Hard, Work Smart & Stay Hungry!

Gary

 

 

The Ultimate Screw-Up’s Guide To Failing Forward

Fail Forward

I went to college at University of Colorado. The end of my sophomore year, I moved off-campus with a bunch of guys, one who’s name was Tom. I hated Tom (understatement). I think it was probably because he had the one thing that I hated more than arrogance… unjustifiable arrogance. He had ABSOLUTELY no reason to be arrogant. He was about the corniest guy I had ever met in my life, and looked like a chubby grown up version of Richie Rich.

Tom was from a state where guns were legal and he had a permit so he would walk around the house with his gun in a holster like he was a cop, despite the fact that violent crime in Boulder Colorado at the time was about as rare as stumbling upon a mountain lion on 42nd street.

The Numbers Game

If you are not familiar with the school, University Of Colorado is a big school and has a very big campus. Every time I would walk through campus with Tom (we left at the same time from the same house), he would stop nearly every woman that crossed our path and ask them out on a date. It was embarrassing. He’d just smile at a girl, stand in her path, extend his hand and say, “Hi I’m Tom.” So much so, that we eventually nicknamed him, “Hi I’m Tom.” Nine times out of ten times the women would practically run away… Which leaves one woman who didn’t.

The Failure Who Succeeded

After a few weeks passed, I noticed Tom was going on a ton of dates. After a month it became ridiculous as women were coming in and out of our house like we were running a brothel.

As it turned out, he explained to me his process. He would ask women out all day until one woman said yes. Every day. If the first said yes he was good, if he had to ask 100 women, the campus was big enough that he would not run short of women to ask.

OK here’s the math…

1 woman a day

7 women a week

28 women a month.

Like I said, a brothel.

The Business Lesson

In business, much like in life, you play the numbers. The only way to succeed in business is to get rejected a lot. And I mean a lot. If you are interested, I wrote an article on the very subject called, 18 Reasons Why Your Rejection Is My Favorite Aphrodisiac. It may help give you a little idea into the reason why I love to be rejected.

So Tom failed and failed a lot. Or so I thought. My take on failure these days is that the only time you fail is when you quit. The truth is that Tom never quit. He simply failed his way forward into success. What’s more, he failed his way into success not once but EVERY SINGLE DAY. One success after another adds up (which explains the revolving door of women at the house).

I believe that the key to success is to build your rejection muscle and grow super thick skin. In order to do this you need fall on your ass repeatedly. One of my favorite analogies to explain this is the process of a baby learning how to walk. How many times do you think a baby falls before finally learning how to walk?

Conversely, what do you think would happen if the baby gave up after falling a few times and just said, “Oh screw it. I’ll just wait until my legs are strong enough.” What would happen is it would take forever for the baby’s leg muscles to grow, and by the time he or she could walk, the other kids would be running laps.

Be Like Tom

If you are a company looking for an investment, remember, you don’t have to succeed everyday (like Cornball Tom), you only need to succeed once. Like I said, it is all about growing thick skin.  If you knew how many times I have failed (and still fail everyday) you would understand why I dedicate most of my time to help  people learn from the mistakes of others. I wrote a book about it, which contains 55 case-studies of my most infamous screw-ups. If you want to read the first few chapters, click here .

I encourage you to be like Tom today. I want you to tell yourself you are going to fail this week and I want you to be encouraged by the very thought. Why? Because, the more times you come up to the plate the greater your chance of striking out… but that is the only way to give yourself a chance to score.

Here are 3 more articles I suggest you read on the subject of failure, rejection and how to grow thick skin.

7 Actions You Must Take Today To Grow Insanely Thick Skin.

6 Powerful Lessons I learned From Failure and 18 Quotes To Support Them

You Miss Every Shot You Don’t Take

*NOTE: You will notice Daymond & I are offering 6 free chapters below from the 3 books. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity as we will not offer this forever! A Lot of people get upset when we take an offer down so don’t let that be you ’cause I’m telling you now! :-)

Have a great day & HUSTLE HARD!

MJ

Help For Entrepreneurs Stuck In The Mud

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Gary & I believe the best way to provide help for entrepreneurs is to show what we have learned from our experience in business, and that includes both the good, the bad and of course the very ugly…

Our first year of the N2ITIV blog we focused mainly on article and video based content as it related to our experience. A few months ago, however, we made a decision to take new content and, rather than the normal posts or videos, create a solution-based video module section on the blog in order to give step by step insight and direction for those that may want a little more structured content.

The result a series we have created called, The Bear Esssentials. This series is geared strictly to provide help for entrepreneurs who may have reached a point where they are not sure where to go or what to do.

The first 8 Modules cover what we feel to be the most important element of your business, namely your brand. These modules cover subjects including:

How To Brand A New Company

Branding Campaigns

Creating A Brand Story Worth Remembering

Steps To Build A Framework For Your brand

Designing A Brand Identity

Examples of companies who Achieve Branding Brilliance

Brand Specialists- Who They are and what they can do for your company

Watch the short intro video below and then click here to open the Bear Essentials page.

Click on video below and Enjoy!

 

Once on the page you will be able to watch the series, whenever and wherever you want. There is a lot to watch so I suggest take it in doses, module by module. Some are short and sweet, others are longer and cover more detail. If you have a business or are starting a business, I think these videos will come in extremely handy.


IMPORTANT NOTE:
If you want to explore a more in depth look at starting a business and raising money, Gary and I have shot 4 FREE product training videos that we have created that provides a much deeper and comprehensive look into starting a business. To visit that section, click here now.

Have  great day!

MJ