“This is my world and in my world you gotta get dirty. So that’s what I’m doing.
I’m getting dirty.” – Django (the d is silent)
It was 10:30 am on New Year’s Day when I watched Django Unchained with my wife. The signature Tarantino western movie had been sold out almost everywhere the day before. After three hours of graphic shooting scenes, mixed with themes of slavery, I paused and reflected. Whether or not I liked the movie Django is irrelevant. But I did uncover four powerful lessons for entrepreneurs, small business owners and anyone who wants to achieve remarkable success in business and life. Django is what I call a “Grinder,” a person who uses the four qualities below to achieve ridiculous success.
1. Passion is a prerequisite to greatness! Django traveled and visited every single plantation looking for his wife. Passion is that internal energy. It’s fire inside of person that fuels your efforts and activities to achieve your goals. You don’t find your passion, its already inside you. Passion becomes activated and its fueled by specific activities. Passion makes you forget to eat and you hate to sleep because you want to keep progressing after your goal.
2. Vision. Django had “cyclops vision” and was only focused on one thing- his wife! He was not a jack of all trades, he was not trying to do ten different things well, only one. So many people focus on trying to start multiple businesses and they have plan b, plan c, plan d, plan e etc… All this means is that they are mediocre in many things and magnificent in nothing. Django would also visualize his goal. He would dream about his wife. He would imagine her there right in front of him. To be successful in business and life, you must go back to playing make-believe. See yourself progressing, see yourself already successful, what does it look like, what does it feel like? You must act like you are it, even though you are not it, until you become it.
3. Strategy is critical. Strategy is a unique plan of action to achieve your goals. Django was a slave and lacked knowledge. He knew that. So his strategy was to partner with a mentor who know more than he did and could help him accomplish his goals. But their relationship was not one sided. Django helped his mentor get what he wanted, so Django could also achieve his goal. There is a saying you should be so good at what you do that people can’t ignore you. Well, it does not matter how good you are, people will ignore if you don’t have an effective way of communicating who you are and get their attention. In business, you must have an effective marketing strategy and in the workplace you must have an effective networking strategy.
4. Perseverance is paramount. Django was always outnumbered and outgunned, but he refused to give up on his dream even when facing death. He was totally irrational and many would have considered his dream of being a slave and taking on one of the largest slave plantations in the country unrealistic. No matter how many times he failed or was captured, he stubbornly refused to quit until he and his wife were reunited. Perseverance is the number one quality you must have to be successful in business and life. The opposite of success is not failure. Failure is a part of success. The opposite of success is “quit.”
Django’s ultimate vision was to be reunited with his wife. It does not matter what your vision is, the formula for attaining greatness and achieving remarkable success are developing and applying these four qualities.
Join us Grinders and Grind for Greatness!
Act like a leader and think like a manager. Really? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? No, because leadership is action, period! And if you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember that people judge you by your “actions,” not your thoughts or “intentions.”
When it comes to leadership and management, many people mistakenly believe they are one and the same. Not knowing the difference and taking specific actions can cause teams to become disengaged, create a hostile work environment, and obtain minimum commitment and performance from people. As a result, people do just enough to meet expectations, not get fired, and become “paycheck employees.”
Here are some of the fundamental differences between managing and leading:
Managers maintain, leaders develop
Managers focus on tasks and compliance, leaders focus on people and empowerment
Managers rely on control, leaders rely on trust
Managers accept the status quo, leaders challenge it
Managers have sight (see things as they are), leaders have vision (see things as what they could be)
How to Act Like a Leader
Ultimately, leadership is people and action trumps everything. Just like you can think your way into a new way of acting, you can also act your way into a new way of thinking.
There are three specific actions that you must continually perform as a leader to bring the best performance out of people.
1. Communicate the vision (speak like leader and always remind your team of the ultimate purpose) in team meetings or one-on-one sessions, and inform the team of what they will ultimately become as a team and an organization.
2. Inspire! As a leader you must be a source of energy and inspiration for your people. They will get burned out, lose sight of the goals and expectations and take their eyes off the vision. You must sense when this happens (lack of participation, absenteeism etc…) and be like jumper cables for your team.
3. Care (empathy is the number one quality leaders must have) about your people. Leaders must know at least the two most important things to their people. Whether its family, going back to school, or obtaining a promotion, you must make time to connect with each person on your team on a personal level. This is the most important action of leaders. It facilitates trust and when people trust you as a leader, they take on more work without more pay and give you their all.
How to Think Like a Manager
If leadership is people, then management is tasks. Although leaders can inspire people to pursue a vision, a management mentality attempts to make certain the vision becomes a reality.
There are three specific thoughts manager must focus on to accomplish the vision.
1. What are we trying to achieve? Once the leader establishes the vision, managers must think about the overall strategy and goals to achieve it. Although the vision does not change, the strategy and goals can change. Goals should be clear, measurable and have deadlines.
2. How are we going to achieve it? While developing the goals, managers must also determine if the team has the resources (people, money, tools etc…) to succeed, or if the team has been set up for failure.
3. How can each team member contribute? Great managers know that it does not matter how bold and wonderful the strategy and goals are, if the team cannot execute and ultimately achieve them. For successful execution, managers must set expectations for each role and assign tasks and duties to hit the daily, weekly or monthly targets. They must also continually ask is everyone on the team in the right role where they are maximizing their strengths (great managers do not focus on weaknesses).
Be a Leader or Manager?
Some people have great leadership qualities. They are inspirational, charismatic, and have majestic ideas, but they are unable to get results and win through other people. Some people have only management tunnel vision, although they get things done, people feel forced to do it, bitter and resentful, and they refuse to give their all.
Be both, be balanced, and start acting and thinking now!
In roughly four short years, Lady Gaga, the eccentric pop star phenom has become a household name by building an iconic brand that has resulted in earnings of nearly one hundred million dollars last year. Although she came from a fairly well off family residing in New York, as a teen she throw it all away despite her parents’ wishes and decided to pursue her passion of music and singing.
A young Gaga, (born Stefani Germanotta) moved out of her parents’ house, promised herself she would not ask for any financial support from her parents, and spent her teenage years singing, waitressing, hustling and grinding in cabaret clubs trying to find her niche. She eventually signed a record deal with Def Jam Records, but was later dropped. She finally obtained a deal with Interscope Records, who released her best-selling album, The Fame in 2008, and the rest is music history.
What can small business owners learn from Lady Gaga’s business journey? We can learn that your brand is not just about your logo, products and services, it’s the personality of your business. Think of your business as a person and how it would think, feel and interact with customers.
Here are the Lady Gaga lessons that small business owners can use to build a powerful brand and spark gigantic growth:
Be Touchable Your business must not only be online, but you must now have a mobile presence as well. Bill Gates said “by the end of 2002, there will be only two kinds of businesses: those with an Internet presence, and those with no business at all.” Even if you’re already online, you must not make the mistake of only communicating about your products and services, you must also be connecting with existing and potential customers. Lady Gaga posts to facebook and tweets to her fans about five times daily. She interacts with fans by not just announcing her products, but sharing her personality, photos, inspiring them to support causes, and most of all thanking her fans who she calls her “little monsters” for their continued support. It is no surprise that she has more twitter followers (over 20 million) than anyone on twitter.
Stand for Something Small businesses should focus not only on selling their products or services, but story-selling. Story-selling is when a business shares in a compelling way its purpose, vision, and reasons for being in business. You must touch your customer’s hearts before you touch their pockets. Think of companies who built their businesses around powerful causes like TOM’s Shoes (shoes for needy children), Ben & Jerry’s (promoting philanthropy with profits) Kenneth Cole (AIDS Awareness). When your business stands for something, customers will feel good about supporting your business because it touches their hearts.
Gaga has been a vocal supporter of bullying, gay rights, particularly she was a huge advocate for the end of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gay recruits. Gaga has successfully created a cult-like following from her fans because they feel like she is one of them. Fans (her customers) can identify with her story of having been bullied as a youth, kids called her ugly and made fun of her big nose. Gaga constantly sings to her fans believe in yourself, be who you are, and they embrace it with every song purchase.
Create a Community Small business owners must replace the word “marketing” with “engaging.” Engaging is what a business does before, during and after the sale. Effective engaging means staying on your customer’s mind in a way that’s not annoying. Use social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin) to offer customers tips, videos and articles that are helpful. Online shoe retailer, Zappos.com, who was recently bought by Amazon for $1.2 billion, increased shoe sales by 10% simply using online videos to showcase and describe their shoes. Lady Gaga interacts with her “little monsters” daily by announcing new songs, videos, products and social causes she supports. Her fans view her actions not as marketing or selling, but engaging or helping them believe in themselves and stand up for social issues.
Be Authentic Small businesses need not rely on product gimmicks, or short term sales tactics, but instead should focus on long term brand authenticity. Customers at times may fall for gimmicks and purchase products, but eventually gimmicks become stale and the business who relies on them will not have a loyal following once the hype burns out. One of the reasons Gaga has a consistent loyal following is because fans know she is real and authentic. Fans believe she does not go home and take off her costume and become a totally different person. Gaga in her own words stated, “Gaga’s always been who I am. Me and my hair bow, we go to bed together. She sleeps where I sleep.”
Small businesses must be touchable, stand for something, create a community, be authentic, but most of all Grind for Greatness!
University and college Faculty members across the nation are well aware of the historic fact that the average student cannot stay focused during a lecture for more than 20 minutes without being distracted. For today’s Generation Y students (born between 1980-2000), that widely accepted statistic may have fallen to about 10 minutes.
Campus life administrators are also experiencing challenges of student engagement, specifically participation for school related and community events. The traditional method used to engage students is to create flyers, tell a few student leaders, send out an email, cross their fingers and hope that students will show up for an event.
Today’s students grew up on interactive technology and expect entertainment-style communication. What can faculty and campus life administrators do to attract and engage today’s hyper-busy, easily distracted, and always connected students?
Here are the 5 rules that will help faculty and staff effectively engage and connect with today’s students:
1. Be Energized: Students will feed off a Faculty member’s passion and enthusiasm for the subject. They can also tell when an instructor is just going through the motions. The result will be bored students who can’t help but tune out. Faculty members must remind themselves they are professionals and being a professional means that they must consistently perform regardless of how they feel. If students are disengaged in the lecture, its time for the instructor to be like jumper cables and spark the class with energy, and remember, a dead battery can’t charge a dead battery.
2. Be Relevant: Use current events, music, television, work or real-life experiences that are relevant to the lecture and help students understand the lesson. For example, a marketing professor titled his lesson “The Lil Wayne Marketing Effect.” Given Lil Wayne’s music popularity, this will definitely capture students’ attention and prepare them to absorb the lesson.
3. Be Fun: Fun makes it interesting. If it isn’t interesting, it’s not going to be given much attention. When its fun the student will discuss it in conversation with friends. However, Faculty members must not attempt to be comedians, instead show a funny video that still relates to the lesson. If you attempt to be a comedian and fail, students will judge you and use your “not cool” label to justify tuning you out. Campus life administrators must make things funny and think like Super Bowl commercial advertisers when marketing events to students; Make school and community event advertisements funny, short and original.
4. Be Practical: Faculty members must connect what students are learning to “real-life” as much as possible. Include demonstrations with workplace scenarios, or have students work in groups on related case studies. For example, a business class could include a case study analysis of a current event business situation that could spark class interest and discussion.
5. Be Connected: According to a recent university study, students spend about three hours per day texting, and roughly one and half hours per day on Facebook. It is imperative that Faculty members and campus life administrators use Facebook, Twitter and text messaging to connect with students by posting assignments and making event announcements. Faculty members should set up Facebook groups and use the groups to spark class discussions, encourage students to ask questions, and allow students to post and make comments. Campus life administrators could increase their student participation rates by sending out text message reminders instead of emails before events and sponsor contests via text message (95% of text messages are read vs.5% for emails).