What is a Lifestyle Business?

LBSSummit_IvanMisner_FBWhat defines happiness and success? Everyone has a different answer, but I can tell you one thing that most would agree on: money does not solely define success and certainly cannot buy happiness.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the LifeStyle Business Summit, hosted by Michelle Villalobos. In telling her own story, Michelle said she was climbing the ladder like we all do, but when she examined her life, she in fact wasn’t happy–and so she left to find her own path to fulfillment. She started her own business, making upwards of $300,000 a year–which society tells us should make a us happy–but that as time went on, she had actually become what she disliked most in people and became the boss she herself had always feared. She never gave herself any breaks or time off, and sacrificed her own happiness and health for a corporate lifestyle.

Two years went by and then Michelle realized she had to make a change in order to find true happiness. She wanted to run a business that revolved around her life and contributed something positive to the world–and she did, by changing her perspective, her business model and her definition of success. Michelle calls her new business model a “lifestyle business,” a term which I found fascinating as it resonated with some many of the concepts I talk and write a.

In a lifestyle business model, you have to determine which things are satisfiers and which are dissatisfiers. Keep in mind that while money can be a quick satisfier, it often doesn’t lead to long-term happiness. Long-term satisfiers can be things like opportunity, recognition and working in your flame (finding you passion.) I’m a real believer in following your passion and finding things that are new and innovative within that passion to keep the flame burning. Dissatisfiers include things like working in your wax (not doing what makes you happy), climbing the ladder and yes–even money.

A great example of this theory is a school teacher. A man or woman doesn’t become a teacher to make money, but to make a significant change in the world around them. I’ve known Wall Street executives who made millions, but admitted that their life was hollow.

I strongly encourage you to join me at the virtual Lifestyle Business Summit on August 11. Register here to not only hear me, but several other top business and lifestyle experts talk about finding what truly makes you happy in your professional life.

 

 

 

Red Nose Day

What better what to celebrate a normal Thursday, than by putting on a red nose?

Trust me, it’s for a good cause–no–a GREAT cause.

Red Nose Day brings awareness and fundraising efforts to children’s charities across the globe. At the BNI Foundation, we support children in education, so this movement seemed like a great fit for us to support. Nonprofits such as charity: water, National Urban League and Save the Children will benefit from 100% of the proceeds raised through Red Nose Day.

Tonight, NBC will host a special featuring live entertainment from well-known celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon and U2, all while fundraising for children living in poverty.

Beth and I hope you tune in and donate to this very worthy cause. And meanwhile, enjoy this clip of us donning our own red noses!

Using Your Passion to Sell Your Business

ID-100228591Are your referral partners excited about your business? Getting your referral partners excited about your business is one of the top ways to generate more referrals, and build your contact base more.

You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Oh, but nobody could be excited about my business. I do XYZ, and that’s boring.” Are you excited about what you do? Are you passionate about what you do?

Hopefully, the answer is yes – as a business owner, you should be excited and passionate about your business. That passionate you have for your business should show in how you describe it, and excite your referral partners. If you’re not excited about what you do, no one else will be either.

Think back to a time when you heard a motivational speaker, perhaps as a keynote at a convention or during a seminar. When you left the room that you heard the speaker in, was there an energetic buzz in the air? Were the other attendees excited about what they heard? Usually, the answer to that question is yes. But why?

Motivational speakers have an uncanny ability to share passion through their words, which increases their credibility and helps listeners remember their messages better. The very same end goals should be what you have in mind when educating potential referral partners about your business.

Increasing the excitement about your business can be easy. Take time to think about why you are excited about your business. What about what you do makes you look forward to waking up in the morning and going to work? Your personal challenge in networking is to have an extraordinary message that not only captures, but highlights, your passion and the essence of your business.

My challenge to you this week is to explain something about your business that excites you to a referral partner who may not have known about it before. See how they receive this information, or if they start to get excited, too.

Let me know in the comments below how that passion-fueled conversation goes!

Referral Marketing: Know the Risks, Reap the Rewards

ID-100252028During a radio interview, the host of the program asked me whether I consider referral marketing the “safest” form of advertising. Without the slightest hesitation, I confidently answered, “By all means, no!” He was visibly shocked by that answer. I went on to explain that I believe very strongly in the tremendous benefits that referral marketing can bring. However, there are unique risks associated with referral marketing that aren’t an issue with commercials or other forms of advertising.

When you give someone a referral, you’re putting your own reputation on the line. If your referral partner does a good job, it enhances your reputation. But if he does a poor job, your reputation will likely suffer. As I said, the payoffs of referral marketing are immense—when it’s done correctly. But referral marketing involves a really big risk: giving away a piece of your reputation every time you give a referral to someone. When you tell a valued customer that a friend of yours is going to take good care of her, you must have confidence in that friend.

But what happens if your friend lets your customer down? It comes back to haunt you. Your customer begins to lose faith in you, and because of that loss of faith, you just might lose that customer down the road. This is why it’s so important to develop strong relationships with your referral partners. Once those strong connections are forged, you can rest easy, knowing that when you tell someone a business associate or a networking partner is going to take good care of him or her, that’s what will happen.

 

What Is Your Intent? Do You Know Your Purpose?

Photo courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All great teachers assert the importance of having intent and purpose in our lives.  According to Benjamin Disraeli, “The secret of success is constancy of purpose.”  Before you go into a networking scenario, make sure you know your purpose.  If your underlying pupose is to exploit the group, you will communicate differently, both verbally and nonverbally, than if you intend to give to the group.  You expect an eventual return, of course, but a good networker goes in with the immediate benefit of others uppermost in mind.

We are, at most times in our lives, a dynamic mixture of intentions.  We seek to do good for others, and at the same time we seek personal benefits in many different forms.  When we attend networking events, our attention instinctively and constantly jumps from situation to situation, searching for opportunities that favor us.  To fix your intention firmly on benefitting others, it is useful to organize your thoughts before the event by formulating, in writing, a clear statement of your main purpose–a mission statement.  Focusing on your number-one priority helps you push your many other impulses into the background.

With your attention and intentions focused, you will communicate clearly and unambiguously your willingness to help others solve problems and satisfy needs.  You will be more self-confident and open to the messages of others, and they will sense it and be attracted to you.  Your message will foster trust and rapport with your networking partners, enabling you to establish and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships.

For the networker, the most authentic message of all is this: “I would like to be your friend, and for you to be my friend.  I think we will both benefit from it.  And I want to start this friendship by doing something to help you.”  If you communicate this orientation toward others in all possible ways, with integrity, you will easily form valuable, rewarding, long-lasting networking relationships.

What have you personally found to be an effective tactic in relaying your genuine networking intent/purpose?  Please share your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Networking and Friends

One of the strengths of a good networking group is that most of the members become friends.  And ironically, one of the weaknesses is that most of the members become friends.  It’s both a strength and a weakness.  Accountability becomes key in running a good network because friends don’t like to hold friends accountable.  But, people who truly understand networking are not going to have a problem with system and structure.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It can be dangerously easy for a networking group that meets regularly to become a coffee talk session with little or no networking going on.  That’s exactly what happens when a group loses sight of their purpose, focus, system, and structure–or never has any of those things to begin with.

People begin to make up their own agendas and the networking loses focus.  When you lose focus, the meetings become social.  Networking should be about business.  Of course there has to be a social aspect, but it’s really about business, commitment, and accountability.  People can be like water and tend to take the path of least resistance.  Without the proper framework in which to operate, the agenda becomes the topic of the day and it ends up being whatever the person running the group thinks the meeting should be about.  That sort of inconsistency over time is a problem for a networking group.

Even if you have a good, strong leader, at some point the person’s life will change or maybe he or she will simply get burned out.  The problem starts if there is no one else to teach.  Teaching is a leaky-bucket process.  You start with a whole bucket of information.  When that information is taught to someone else, some of that information leaks out and the people being taught only get that limited version of the information.  In turn, when that person teaches someone else, the material continues to get watered down based on their understanding and ability to articulate the material.

By the time you are in the third or fourth generation of people passing along the information, you only have about half a bucket remaining.  When the bucket of information gets low, people start putting in their own stuff.  Very rarely does the material improve over time with this process.

In short, it is a beautiful thing when people in a networking group become close friends–the key to making sure it doesn’t detract from the goals of building each other’s business through networking, however, is to ensure that no matter what type of networking group you’re in the group has a strong sense of purpose, a solid structure, and that each member is committed to carrying out the systems for networking which are already in place. 

So, how does your networking group maintain its focus and its commitment to its systematic networking practices (e.g., careful selection of leadership, effective training programs, etc.)?  I’d love to hear your thoughts–please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks so much for your participation!

 

How to Persevere in the New Year

My good friend Julien Sharp is a brilliant editor who has worked on a countless number of writing projects for me and done a top-notch job. She is also founder of Funnybone Toys® and Funnybone MuseTM, a fantastic networker and businesswoman, and an exceptional author who contributed a great article entitled “From Mickey Mouse to Cruise Ships” to my 2007 bestseller, Masters of Sales.

Julien Sharp

Julien Sharp

The article talks about her early childhood dream to be a musical performer on The New Mickey Mouse Club, how that transitioned into a desperate longing to become a cruise ship entertainer, and how she went from a kid growing up in rural Indiana to a successful cruise ship entertainer performing in exotic locations like the southern Caribbean.

Although Julien’s story is certainly an interesting one, the reason I bring up her article is not to detail her journey from Mickey Mouse to Cruise Ships, but to focus on the main points in her article, which explain how she achieved success.

Julien says that even today, she’s never forgotten a quote she read as a young girl from Lee Iacocca: “You’ve got to say, ‘I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough, I can have it.’ It’s called perseverance.”

This idea became the mantra that guided Julien to success. She says, “I had to have the perseverance to finish what it took to achieve my goal, and I had to realize that perseverance virtually never comes into play without the first two words in the quote: ‘I think . . .”

As a result of making Iacocca’s quote her mantra, at an early age Julien learned:

  1. To convert her dream to a specific goal
  2. How to research her target market
  3. To create an impassioned sales presentation, and
  4. To sell with passion.

Julien’s all-encompassing goal was to sing on a cruise ship, so she researched her client (cruise ship companies), rehearsed her presentation (created a demo cassette, packaged with the most professional photo she could afford, and included an introductory letter detailing her experience, education and the absolute passion she had for achieving her goal), used her enthusiasm as her best selling tool (all her money and every ounce of emotional desire went into 12 demo packages destined for various cruise lines in Miami), and persisted in chasing her goal. It’s no surprise that she achieved that goal, and now she continues to achieve even greater goals with each new year.

So, what’s your goal this week? This month? This year? Please share your answers in the comment forum below and if you really want to achieve your goals, remember the Iacocca quote, take a lesson from Julien, and learn to persevere.

Your Contribution Lives On

The news of Robin Williams’ suicide stunned me last week. He is someone we collectively feel strongly personal about, as if we knew him as a friend. And the situation that apparently led him to take his own life – depression – just left me feeling like I had been sucker punched.

MonBlog-RW

And then it led me to some deeper and more profound thoughts. Albert Pine, an English author who wrote in the early 19th century said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains unchanged and is immortal.” There is no doubt that Robin Williams has left a mark on our world. I have spent hours laughing through one of Williams’ movies, a comedy show or even a simple interview, and I’m sure you have, too.

To paraphrase Pine, I would say the following: What we do for ourselves ends with us.  What we do for others lives on.

I certainly hope that what I do for others will live on. This shattering event has given me a moment to pause and take a look at how I have started a movement within business with the purpose to change the way we do business.

I’m so serious about this movement that I have adopted as my motto: “Changing the Way the World Does Business®”This change comes by implementing a shift in the focus of how we go about growing our businesses – from a dog-eat-dog, competitive model, to a how-can-I-help-you, collaborative model.

One of our business colleagues said recently about our mission that “we know referrals are our purpose, but impacting someone’s life is our calling.”

When doing business with the “givers gain” philosophy gets really embedded in practice, there’s a huge movement from “transactional” to “transformational relationships,” and both people and business take on fresh dimensions of trust and creativity that can’t be measured with mere numbers. That ethos and experience, multiplied in viral fashion, changes the face of business, which in turn impacts lives in positive ways.

Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, wrote, “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.” This Givers Gain business focus started when I was just 28 years old and has provided me with a rewarding and long career.

I think we can all use our loss of one of America’s great comedians and actors to start a conversation about what our contribution is going to be that will live on past our life span. I would encourage you to design a fulfilling life. Whatever you are, be a good one, as my friend Stewart Emery says.

I sincerely hope that somehow Robin Williams had a sense of the contribution he made to our lives before he left us, all too soon.  

Rest in peace, Robin. You will be missed.

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