How To Build a Great Business Without Knowing Anything

Henry Ford

In today’s post I discuss how Henry Ford built an empire by using the power of specialized knowledge to build a billion dollar business. Ford gives the best example I know on the necessity of building a great team who all have their own area of expertise which, when combined, make your company as a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.



Have a great day!





How To Be A Master Entrepreneur


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!




3 Words You Never Want To Say On Your Deathbed


kenny I recently finished the book Unlabel by Marc Ecko, a book that hit very close to home to me as his fashion brand and mine were in the same stores at the same time for a very long time… until I eventually went out of business and he went on to become a billion dollar brand.

The reason why I went out of business was not unlike why I lot of other companies go out of business. I have learned that there is an extremely thin line between success and failure. Sometimes you realize that line is so thin that it is hard to identify until you are on the other side of it.

Destination vs. Process

I eventually managed to start another brand and then another, building one bigger than the next only to find myself on the wrong side of the line once again. I kept struggling until I finally realized that being a successful entrepreneur has nothing to do with the destination but with the process. I also came to the understanding that the successful entrepreneur is not the one who wins but the one who loses and keeps on going.

Note: This is the follow-up to a post I wrote last year entitled, 4 Words That Will Destroy Your Life (& Business)

I not only expect but also know for a fact that I will have a lot more stumbles, failures, bumps, lumps and bruises in my life before I punch my ticket. I have accepted that and so should you.

Marc Ecko said a few things about failure that I very much admire. He said “You will only stop having failures after you take your last breath.”

He also said “anyone that doesn’t talk about failure being part of their path to success… is full of sh*t.”

I am only slightly paraphrasing because I only read (listen) to books on Audible and cannot find the bookmark where he said this but I think you get the point.

My Business Bucket List

I have a lot of things on my business bucket list. I understand some will not happen, however at the end of the day, I will only regret the things that I never took the time to at least try my best to accomplish.

Some of these things I have consciously made a decision to put off in order to focus on what I have in front of me as I try not to dilute my energy and wear myself too wide and thin so to speak. Those are conscious decisions I have made and I am cool with those choices.

That being said, I think that it is important that we be very careful with what we decide to focus on and what we decide to put aside as, if the world ended tomorrow, or if we were on our deathbed, there are 3 words I think you will agree we never want to say…


In business as in life, if you are lucky, there will be a lot of goals that you will not achieve. I say if you are lucky, because if you consistently set goals throughout your lifetime, you are being proactive and going after what you want in life, as opposed to being reactive and just letting life happen.

To me, a big part of my life is setting short-term goals, accomplishing them (or not), only to set new goals in order to go out and achieve them as well. Some goals take longer to accomplish then others and, at the end of the day some of those goals will never be met. That is a fact.

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

Setting Goals & Being Proactive

Setting goals and proactively going after what you want is the only way to prevent you from saying if only I on your deathbed, however let me clarify… goals are not etched in stone and should be changed and modified if and when necessary.

A lot of times what we think we want changes and some things become less important and some more important allowing for new goals take their place. Again, that is part of life and the flexibility to change and modify can only happen if we are open to change and modification.

One caveat… changing and modifying goals can be tricky. In my opinion, goals shouldn’t be changed simply because they seem too difficult or impossible to attain. History shows us pretty much everything within reason is possible. I say within reason because if your goal is to be able to fly… that is not within reason.

Your Homework

Not to be morbid, but close your eyes and pretend you are on your deathbed. Pick up the voice recorder on your phone and record what you regret you haven’t accomplished.  You will notice these regrets fall into one of two categories.

In the first category are things you have not accomplished but are currently proactively working on. The other list is what you have given up on or have been putting off.

Write down those items on your list that you have put off, print it out and put it in a place where you will be forced to read it every day. Prioritize them. When one of the goals you are focusing on is achieved, move the most important one from the given up on or put off  list and add it to currently working on list.

Keep up this pattern. You will find the more you accomplish the more new goals get added to the list that you never thought of, simply because you have scratched something off your bucket list so there is room for something new to take its place.

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

The Wrap-Up

Accept the fact this list is never-ending and will never go away… and know that it shouldn’t. The moment we have achieved all of our goals we will have nothing to look forward to. Tony Robbins explains this well when he talks about people who reach their goals and then think to themselves, “Is that all there is?” …

Your ever changing, ever evolving goals in life will enable you to accomplish more than you ever possibly imagined.

Have a great day!


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


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!



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


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!




Help For Entrepreneurs Stuck In The Mud


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.

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!



Everything You Wanted To Know About A Blog But Were Afraid To Ask


One of the things I love most about our blog is that Gary and I write and or say what we want, when we want. Another reason is there is no debating as to why we write or say it. We simply want to share our experience with you if you care to hear it. This is our digital home and, unlike our own homes, ‘Mi casa es su casa’, so everyone is invited… and can leave any time they want. That is the true beauty of the internet.

The Great Thing About Blogs

Blogs are incredible when you know how to navigate them. Unfortunately, there is no good way to extract all the good information unless you have a guide to help you. If you have a blog, I suggest you create a post like this to help people find all the articles you have worked so hard and so long to write. It is such a tremendous injustice that most blogs have less than 1% of its information read.

I was inspired to do this post as Gary and I constantly send article links to people who ask questions about various subjects that we have covered in detail somewhere on this blog… So I have created this guide..

Here is a simple, easy-to-follow guide through that should include everything you wanted to know but (perhaps) were perhaps afraid to ask.


 If you look at the last few entries you will see they are very solution-based and offer quite a bit of information on branding, something Gary (in my opinion) is one of the best at. Gary has spent the last 23 years handling the branding for four of companies in which we have owned together, as well as for some of the top brands and entertainment personalities in the world. If you want to catch up on all branding posts, click how to brand your product.

Turning Failure Into Success

 I, on the other hand, write a lot about what I have learned from failure, and how to turn failure into success. So much so, I wrote a book about it. It is no twenty- page E-Book.  It is an eleven chapter, 213-page book that contains fifty-five case studies of what I have learned from the mistakes I have made over the course of the last 20 plus years as an entrepreneur. If you want to find out more about it, click How To Ruin A Business. You will see that some people and brands you may have heard of have said some good things about it.

 I have also dedicated an entire section of this blog to everything an entrepreneur should NOT do when running a business. My belief is that, by reversing the traditional way we learn and teaching people to learn from the mistakes of others, we take the ego out of the equation so entrepreneurs can take their guards down and learn objectively, while still allowing them to enjoy the freedom of their own experience. If you want to go to that section, click what not to do in business to see the list of articles.

How To Raise Money To Start A Business

 I have also written a number of articles on the subject of raising capital and pursuing investors. I have been on both sides of the table as well as in the middle quite a few times so I have an interesting perspective and decent insight on the subject I think. If you want to read those articles, click how to raise money to start a business.

Help For New Businesses

 If you are starting a business, there is a section you should not miss, as it will give you access to 4 training modules that Gary and I spent quite a bit of time on. It is called The Start-Up Toolkit.  A lot of people contact Gary and I and ask us questions that we have already answered in detail in those videos. To find out about The Start-Up Toolkit, click help for new businesses.

Business Strategy Tips

There is another cool section on the blog that contains short video modules offering business tips that you can implement in your business to help you. It is called the Bear Essentials. To access it click business strategy tips.

For The Entrepreneur

We have developed a section specifically with the entrepreneur in mind. This area of our blog highlights a lot of the challenges we have faced as entrepreneurs and what we have learned in our experiences along the way that may be of help to you. To access this section click help for entrepreneurs

Success Tips & Advice

One of the biggest portions of the N2ITIV blog contains stories of success and various tips and advice on how to be successful in your business affairs, whether you work for yourself, or somebody else. If that is more your speed, click success tips & advice.


 If videos are more your speed, we have tons of videos on this site as well. To watch videos, instead of reading text, by all means, click entrepreneur videos.

 Who Are MJ & Gary Anyway?

 If you want to learn about who Gary is and what he does both professionally and personally, click who is Gary O’Neil. If you want to find out about me, click who is MJ Gottlieb?.

So there you have it. That should keep you reading and watching for weeks. Enjoy and let me know what your favorite section is!

Have a great day!




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


I have grown to love failure, although I’ll be the first to admit it kicked my a*s for many years. I remember the helpless and empty feeling of losing my first business and having to put both the business and myself through bankruptcy. It was absolutely horrible.

I remember losing the house, the office, the warehouse, the car, & putting the furniture on the front lawn for people to take it as I didn’t even have the money to put it in storage Continue reading “6 Powerful Lessons I learned From Failure and 18 Quotes To Support Them”

The 3 I’s To Success: Ideas, Individuals & Innovation

74. The-3-I’s-To-Success-Ideas,-Individuals-&-Innovation

The American government and many economists have gotten it wrong. The launch of a successful business and employment creation does not stem from the efforts of big business. In fact, the big corporations are sitting on more cash than ever in their history and the job market is not growing in the industrialized segment of the economy.The question, why? has not been answered, and it will not be until we look seriously at the role of the entrepreneur in business the world over. Continue reading “The 3 I’s To Success: Ideas, Individuals & Innovation”

How To Brand Like An Idiot [Without Even Knowing It]

77. Branding From The Perspective Of Your Customer

Have you or do you possibly know of someone who created a product or service that they thought was going to be groundbreaking, only to find out that when they launched it, it was not only not the hit they expected but rather found it not to be a hit at all? I know I did.

It happened to me in the very first business that I had back in 1991, a clothing brand I started with my partner Gary while we were in college. Continue reading “How To Brand Like An Idiot [Without Even Knowing It]”