5 Ways YOU Turn Weakness Into Strength & Challenge Into Opportunity

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9232c15090c5226ff45ec0b557911c23A number of experiences in my life and challenges that I have gone through, from the outside in, seem completely justifiable for plenty of sympathy to be thrown in my direction. After all, I went through a lot and people should feel sorry for me that I had to go through so many ups and downs.

Why me? Why did I have to go through things that others didn’t have to? It’s not fair…

Sadly, this is the way I used to think.  Turns out, it is complete BS. The truth is, it is what I have gone through that has shaped me into the person who I am today (which is, quite simply, much better than I used to be).

How To Cherish Adversity

I have learned to cherish adversity. Every adversity I have ever been through has made me a stronger individual. I heard someone at a conference say they pray for failure each day. Now I know exactly what that person meant. If I am living a proactive life, there is a 99% chance that I will fail at something today. That also means I will succeed at something as well. That’s the trade off.

I wrote a post about this called You Miss Every Shot You Don’t Take.

Many people (myself in the past tense included) like to avoid adversity like the plague. They say yes to their boss, their spouse, their children, their clients and whoever else who come into their path so as not to ripple the tide. There is a huge flaw in that line of thinking. If you spend your life avoiding adversity you have zero chance at growing and you will simply be stuck on stupid.

We Are The Byproduct Of Our Challenges

Adversity, challenges and turning weakness into strength goes back to the beginning of mankind. We simply wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the challenges we have gone through.

Over the past year I have gone through dozens of books and countless case studies throughout history of how to turn weakness into strength and challenges into opportunities. Some of the books were ones I had read before that I needed to tackle again with a new perspective, something I find happens every time you read a good piece of content more than once. In my opinion, the best of all the books was Malcolm Gladwell’s newest, David & Goliath.

David & Goliath is a book entirely dedicated to how people have used their weaknesses and disadvantages turned them into strengths and, conversely, how people have done the opposite and used their apparent strengths and turn them into weaknesses.

Over the next months I will be talking about many of these case studies however, for the purposes of keeping this post from reading like a novel, the post is simply an introduction to stimulate your thinking… and to give you a little assignment to help get you started.

5 Ways YOU Turned Weakness Into Strength

So, to get this series started, let’s put the focus on you for a moment…  In case you haven’t noticed, the title to this post is 5 Ways You Turn Weakness Into Strength & Challenge Into Opportunity. So I have a small, quick assignment for you which will hopefully provide you with some clarity on how you have turned weakness into strength (possibly without even knowing it). It should also give you a little insight into the idea that growth occurs outside the comfort zone.

Make two columns on a sheet and write down the 5 most difficult things you have ever gone through, business or personal on the left hand side. Then, when you are done, on the right side, write down how each experience made you stronger.

When you are finished, read some of my weaknesses and how I have turned them into strengths. You can find 7 of them in a post I wrote called 7 Things I Suck At That Make Me Great.

After you finish reading the post, share one of the items on your list in the comments section below and let me know how it has made you a stronger person.

Have a great day!

MJ

How To Be A Master Entrepreneur

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Black+beltscI recently finished Robert Greene’s book, Mastery, yet another master-piece of the author who brought us The 48 Laws Of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law and many others.

If you know me or are familiar with N2ITIV, you know that I  believe there is no such thing as an expert  (let alone a master) however, that being said, there was a very strong point that he drove home which I think is essential for every entrepreneur to know.

In order to master a skill, Greene concluded that it takes roughly 10,000 hours. If you include distractions, that amounts to approximately 9-10 years, assuming that’s pretty much all you do.

Therefore, how much time does it take to be a master entrepreneur?

How To Become A Master Entrepreneur

In my opinion, there are two answers to that question. The first answer is, quite simply, NEVER. It simply ain’t gonna happen. The other answer I have is also quite simple… 10,000 hours (or 9-10 years).

If you are an entrepreneur you should see that there appears to be a major flaw with that answer because being an entrepreneur requires quite a bit more than learning (or mastering) one particular skill-set or trade. The fact is that an entrepreneur must deal with a cross section of multiple trades and skills on a daily basis.

So how can you become a master entrepreneur in 10,000 hours?

Again, there is only one answer… working with other masters. Let me flesh this out a bit using a personal example.

The most recent project I have been working on is in a space that requires 5 main components:

 1)   A sales and marketing component

2)   A branding and product development component

3)   A complex financial component

4)   A legal component with heavy IP emphasis

5)   A software and coding component

In order to make sure each of the components are handled to the absolute best of their ability, I need the help of not one but 5 masters.

Again, I need to mention that I absolutely hate words like mastery, expert and/or guru HOWEVER, having a tremendous amount of respect for Robert Greene’s work and, being in total agreement with the point he is trying to make, I will make an exception in this case…

OK, back to my current venture…

The People Who Make Me Masterful

From the 5 components listed above, my new venture is in need of 5 such masters. Fortunately, I have four partners who fill 4/5 of the equation:

The first person is me. My mastery is sales and marketing and, fortunately, I have far exceeded 10,000 hours in that area.

The next master is Gary. Gary has a very extensive background in branding and product development having not only run companies with me, but also having run branding and product development for some of the largest and well known brands in the world. (23 years of experience altogether)

The next master is Big John, who I highlighted in my recent article on how to overcome fear. John has an extensive financial background, having worked on Wall Street on a very high level for well over 20 years.

Our fourth master, Ed is an attorney with an extensive background in IP law, and handles the legal work for some of the largest brands in music and entertainment. He also has 25+ years in this field.

72 Years?

If I were to try to handle the responsibilities myself, according to Greene, I would need a minimum of 40 years until I could be masterful enough to handle each area. Couple that with the software and coding component, I would have to be a minimum age of 72 before I could even begin to start a business with the mastery of these 5 areas (50 years out of college).

Hopefully you see where I am going. The only way to be a masterful entrepreneur is to have partners who are masters at what you need, or at least hire people who are masters in a given field.

According to Greene, the road to being a master is first observation, then apprenticeship, and finally, practice. If you are an entrepreneur or have aspirations to become a successful entrepreneur you need to know that there is no such thing as a master entrepreneur who achieves success on the efforts and expertise (and mastery) of him or herself alone.

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

What Do You Need To Be  A Master Entrepreneur

Here’s a good rule to follow. Look at your business. Most of my businesses have consisted of 6 areas:

1-    Design

2-    Branding & product development

3-    Marketing & public relations

4-    Sales

5-    Financial

6-    Production

 Look at your company and break down what areas your company needs. Then figure out what can be done in-house and what can be done through outside help. Take those areas and make sure you have each department run by someone who has passed Greene’s criteria.

I know what you may be thinking… I am a startup entrepreneur ya dummy! I don’t have 10 minutes let alone 10 years, nor can I hire anyone with 10 years to help me!

I have an answer to that question. Email me with the subject line HELP ME YA DUMMY and I will respond to you within 48 hours… or leave a comment below.

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 a great day!

MJ

 

 

The Single Greatest Tip I Ever Received On How To Be Productive

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320336_377463042308022_703561752_nIf you are familiar with the N2ITIV blog, you know Gary and I cover a wide range of topics on how to succeed in business and in life. You should also know that every bit of advice we give is the direct result of lessons we have learned from our countless mistakes in our (now) 46 combined years in business.

Wow. I suddenly feel really old. Moving on…

I think being productive is one of the most important and highly treasured skills any person can achieve as it combats our single greatest commodity on Earth… time. I believe that time can be our greatest asset when we manage it correctly. Conversely, it can also be our worst enemy when we let it slip away.

{Note: I elaborate quite a bit about this in a post I wrote called,  Gordon Gekko Was Wrong.}

Time Working For Us vs. Time Working Against Us

Getting time to work for us as opposed to working against us is one of the trickiest tasks I have ever been up against… and still struggle with every day.

If every bit of knowledge I currently have in my mind about productivity were going to be stripped away and I was only allowed to remember one thing, there is a hands-down winner that I would pick every time. It’s about as simple as you can get but as profound as they come…

You can’t think your way into good action. You have to act your way into good thinking.

People (myself included) spend 90% of their time trying to think about what the right thing is to say or think about the best thing to do… and end up not doing anything. We do this for one reason… our fear of failure. Overcoming fear of failure is another subject I talk about quite a bit at N2ITIV.

{Note: If you want to read posts about failure and rejection, click how to learn from failure.}

There is only way to combat this and that is to take action. Please don’t misunderstand me… I am not telling you to aimlessly act or to act without thinking. What I am saying is, once you make a decision of what you need to do, you need to follow that up with action IMMEDIATELY. The moment you give yourself a second to think twice, you kill the chances of acting about 90%. At least in my case that is…

The Doers vs. The Thinkers

In my world, there are doers and there are thinkers. Most of the doers are also great thinkers but very few of the thinkers are great doers. Despite the fact that both thinking and doing are vital in life, life itself is a program of action. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but if you don’t act on that knowledge it is completely useless.

{Note: If you want to read up more on this read You Miss Every Shot You Don’t Take.}

Here are 2 Examples Of How Thinking Screwed Me… 

– I knew the girl I wanted to date in middle school. I f*cking knew it with every fiber of my being. Then I thought maybe I’d wait just a day… then just a week… The result? … One of the guys I hated most asked her first and I had to watch them kissing in the hallways for the next five years until I graduated.

– In the mid 1990’s my first business was in real trouble. I knew there was a possibility my friend would help me try to save my business… all I had to do was ask. I thought to myself, OK, maybe instead of calling him I’ll wait till I see him. Then I saw him and I said to myself, OK, let me wait I’ll wait until the next time when its not so formal…

After my business was over I had to file personal and corporate bankruptcy, move 3000 miles back home with my parents, and take a job mopping floors at a bar. A few years later, after starting another business, I ran into him at a tradeshow. He asked me what had happened as he hadn’t seen me in years. I told him. The long and the short of it was that he turned to me asked… “Why did you never ask me for my help?”

I can give you 300 other examples but I think (and hope) you get the point.

Our lives are too short to spend it questioning ourselves and creating master plans, re-questioning those plans, re-evaluating, only never to take action. Please take a shot. You owe it to yourself.

Your Homework

What is the one action you have been putting off that you know you need to do? Do yourself a favor and just do it…. you can think about it all you want later… and since I am on the topic of of Nike and Just Do It, you may want to check out The “Just Do It” Effect: The Power Of The World’s Most Inspiring Slogan.

Have a great day!

MJ

How To Screw Yourself Out Of 10 Million Dollars… Without Even Knowing It

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happy-sadIn the first clothing company that Gary and I owned back in 1991, we decided to take a huge gamble and use a fabric that we had seen in the ski market, and attempt to bring it into the urban market where it had never been seen before.

We decided to premiere it at the biggest fashion tradeshow in the world, the Magic International Tradeshow in Las Vegas. It was a big gamble for us since this was very early on in our business to be taking such a risk, however, we figured we would give it a shot…

Step 1: Success! … almost

As it turned out, it was a hundred times the hit that we expected. We wrote so many orders we could barely bring the orders physically home. When we got back to the office, we counted up all the orders, which came to a little under a half million dollars. At the time, this was by far the most amount of business we had ever written.

Though we were extremely excited, it did represent quite a task for us, as it was only Gary, myself and two other people in a small warehouse in downtown Los Angeles and we didn’t have time to get a bigger warehouse or hire more people in such a short amount of time.

We also had an extremely hard time convincing our suppliers to give us that much product as it far surpassed our credit lines. So we begged, borrowed, pleaded, scratched and scraped every last dime and squeezed every ounce of credit we could and managed to miraculously get all of the product made in time for the season… All we needed to do was pack it for the stores.

When the product came in, there was so much we couldn’t fit it all in the warehouse so half of the product was stacked outside and we spent two days and two nights in the office packing everything… and praying it wouldn’t rain! Fortunately, we were able to get everything done until every last box was out of the warehouse.

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

Step 2: Success! … Or So I Thought

About a week later, the phones started to ring off the hook. So much so, that we added new lines to take the calls. Stores were re-ordering like crazy… every company’s wet dream!!! The reorders were coming in like wildfire so much so it was literally insane at the office.

BUT… There was one small problem… we hadn’t planned for re-orders.

We immediately thought about calling back our suppliers but it was useless, as it was Christmas season, and there was absolutely no chance of getting more product before the season ended.

One account with multiple stores in the Midwest actually called us and told us to ship whatever we had in the warehouse. No discount, just anything and everything we had at full price. We had nothing. Not one single garment left.

That season, our company rejected millions of dollars in orders because we simply weren’t ready.

Step 3: Too Little… Too Late

By the next show we were ready. We went to the show ready for anyone and anything. When we got to the show however, we realized something horrible. Every single booth had our product… and it was better and less expensive than ours was. We were suddenly a zero-factor. A non-issue. The big boys had caught on and were ready for the kill.

Over the next few short years, hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on this fabrication thanks to the people who handed them the keys to the kingdom… Us.

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

The Lesson

This is a classic story of supply and demand. If you have something that someone else wants but nobody else can get, you will get the sale every time, regardless of price. If you’re not ready to fill the demand, someone else will, if not now, then later. The key is to reap the most profits as you can until the competition catches on… and they will catch on.

The truth is, we could’ve probably shipped ten million dollars if we had the inventory. I made a big mistake. I spent all my time on making sure that somehow, some way, the product would be a smashing hit.

What I didn’t do was figure out what to do once that smashing hit took place.

Have a great day!

 

MJ