Entrepreneur Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
recession

I Refuse to Participate in the Recession

Since starting BNI in 1985, I have navigated my company through three recessions. Now,  we have entered our fourth recession due to COVID-19. Along the way, I have learned that your mindset has a lot to do with how one navigates a tough recession economy successfully.

The 1990 Recession

The importance of having a positive mindset became clear to me during the recession of the early ’90s. I was attending a large networking event. As I walked around the room, I discovered that almost everyone was completely fixated on how horrible things were. It was incredibly depressing. I found myself meandering until I saw someone standing in a corner observing all the distraught business people in attendance. I walked up to him, introduced myself, and asked him what he did.  He told me he was in real estate. I prepared myself for the onslaught of horror stories, but instead, he said that things were going well for him.

Naturally, I was surprised and replied, “You said you were in real estate, right?

“Yes,” he said.

I asked, “The real estate market has dropped significantly here, hasn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said with a slight grin.

“And you’re having a good year?”

“I’m having my best year ever!”

“Your best year!” I said in amazement. After thinking for a moment, I asked him, “Is this your first year in real estate?

“No,” he replied with a laugh. “I’ve been in real estate for almost 10 years.”

I asked him how he could be doing so well, given the condition of the economy. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a big button that reads:

I Absolutely Refuse to Participate in the Recession!

“That’s it? You have a button that says, ‘I absolutely refuse to participate in the recession,’ so your business is booming?” I exclaimed.

“Well, it’s not just the button; it’s the attitude that goes along with it, he told me. You see, he went on to explain, “during difficult times, there are almost always opportunities that exist, and if you want to succeed, you have to focus on those opportunities.”

“OK,” I said. “School me a little on this. What kind of opportunities can there be right now when the real estate market has taken a nosedive?”

“Two big ones,” he replied. “First, there are real estate investors who buy properties to rent and lease. I’m going to them and encouraging, ‘Don’t be one of those people who come to me a few years from now and say that you should have bought that property when I showed it to you. Let me show you a duplex that you can get a steal on today’.” He paused to take a sip of his water, and then continued, “Besides, there are still first-time home buyers in a down economy. I’m going to them right now and explaining that they couldn’t afford a house a year ago, but they can today. Now is the time to buy while the market is low.”

He was selling more real estate than ever while others in the room were obsessed with the recession economy and the drop in prices. And yet, he was making a killing. He wrapped up by telling me the button represented the attitude and the action that one must pursue when times are tough. He said he was at ease with the recession because many of the people in the room would be transitioning to another business while he became focused and they simply froze in fear.

The Great Recession (2008)

His is not an isolated story. I have seen this happen during all three of the past recessions I have experienced. Years later, I met someone who had left his employment, cashed out his retirement money, and decided to become an entrepreneur. He started his very own moving and storage business. Beginning with one truck, a storage facility, and an office, he opened his doors and was excited to start his journey. This was in early 2008. Just as he joined the ranks of entrepreneurship, the Great Recession came crashing down on him.

He was devastated.  All his hopes, dreams, and cash were about to evaporate. However, he had a similar attitude to my real estate friend. With a positive mindset, he increased his efforts and immersed himself in networking groups to build his word of mouth. At the same time, he integrated self-storage programs into his business to help people who consolidated homes during this time. This was one of the few growth areas during the recession.

The bottom line was that he also refused to participate in the recession.  He was focused on solutions while other people were frozen in fear.  He came out of that recession larger and stronger than he was when he and his company went into it.  You can find him today with many trucks and multiple locations around the country.

The COVID-19 Recession (2020)

Entrepreneurs have two problems this year. First, COVID-19, and now, a recession. What I know to be true is that if you focus on the problem, you will be an expert on the problem. Focus on the solutions that will get you through both struggles.

A powerful mindset begins with the belief that you can find solutions to the current situation. Belief is that little voice inside you whispering to you the things that “can be” while everyone around you is screaming about the things that “can’t be.” The right mindset, along with a plan of action, will lead you successfully through these turbulent times. I for one am going out today to make more buttons that say: “I Refuse to Participate in the Recession.” I invite you to do the same.

life

You Are Not the Dumbest Thing You’ve Done in Life

If you ever feel like you’ve done a bonehead thing in business or life, this story might make you feel better.

The most memorable television interview I ever did in my life was my first “live” interview — which was very nearly my last live interview.

It was early 1995, and my first major book was hitting the shelves coast to coast. A cable station had invited me to talk about it on the Fairfield County Exchange morning show in Connecticut, right across the border from New York.

My publicist called me before the show and said, “Don’t forget that this is live. Completely live. Whatever you say will go on the air (this was long before the notorious Janet Jackson disaster – now everything is tape delayed). She also added that “They want you to do something visual for the show.”

I thought, This is networking, not lion taming. What can I do that’s visual? Run up and down the aisles handing out business cards? So I thought I’d put together a “tool box” with “networking tools” inside — badges, cardholders, and the like. Kind of goofy, but it was visual.

Somehow it didn’t feel like it was enough. So while the New York area Executive Director for BNI, was driving me to the show, I came up with an idea. “Lance,” I said, “what do you think about a magic trick?” I am an amateur magician, and I have a trick where I hide some flash cotton in my hand. I wave my hand, and a flame briefly flares up out of it. I happened to have it with me and I said, “Here’s what I’ll do. We get to the end of the interview, the interviewer holds up my book, and I say to her, ‘Careful! That’s hot!’ And then I take it from her, and whoosh! Flames shoot out of it.”

“Yeah, that’s good!” said Lance.

A little while later, I was sitting in the green room at the studio. It was a large cable station, and the show was a big, 90-minute show with 10 guests or more. I was sitting there with Lance and a bunch of other people, watching the show on a monitor, waiting to be called, when this guy dressed like a Native American walked by. Then another guy walked by dressed like a cop. Then another guy, dressed like a cowboy.

Someone joked, “Gee, it looks like the Village People!” Everyone laughed and we all agreed that wasn’t likely. Then I heard the on-air announcer say,

“Next on the Fairfield County Exchange”

The Village People!

life

life

and (long-pause with less excitement)

Dr. Ivan Misner to talk about networking.

 

I panicked. “Lance,” I said, “I’m gonna die here!”

I thought, better juice things up a notch. Make a bigger flame. So, I stuffed some more flash cotton into my palm.

The Village People went on. I watched them on the monitor. They were great! They were fun! They were hysterical! They did “Y-M-C-A,” shaping the letters with their bodies, of course. They were visual! The audience roared, screamed, jumped up and down.

I thought, I’m going on after them? Are you kidding me, I’m going to bomb, I’d better use a little more of that flash cotton.

The Village People kept the audience jumping and screaming for more. The show fell behind schedule. I knew my interview was going to be rushed. I was up next. I had the cold sweats.

The producer came over and said, “Get ready, we’re going to have to rush you on and mic you up.”

“Okay,” I said. I took another pinch of flash cotton (just for good measure) and followed him out of the room.

As the Village People came offstage to a rowdy standing ovation, I was seated in a chair in front of the cameras, half-facing the host and hostess. I was holding a copy of my book and I wanted to prepare them for what I was going to do. I said to the hostess, seated immediately to my right, “Hey, listen, when we get to the end of the interview, would you hold this up? Then I’ll say — ”

At that moment, the director, who could hear us through her headset, walked over to us and said, “No, no, no, I don’t want her holding the book up. We have a JPG of the cover, and we’ll show it in another shot.”

As soon as the director walked away, the hostess turned to me and saw that I was panicked and said, “I’m the host, I’ll decide. What do you want to do?” I started to explain the trick. As I got to the same point in the first attempt to explain, the director came back and said, “I told you, I don’t want her holding the book up! Okay, we’re on LIVE in five, four, three —”

The hostess whispered to me, “Just go ahead and do whatever you’re going to do. I’ll follow along.”

So we did the interview. I thought it was kind of a lame interview with the toolbox thing, especially following the Village People, but I knew we’d have a great ending.

As we finished up, she said, right on cue, “I have here a copy of Dr. Misner’s book.” She held it up. The director scowled.

I said, “Careful! That’s hot!” I reached over, took the book from her, and opened it up. And WHOOOOSH! a gigantic flame shot up. Huge, I mean really big. A much bigger flame than I expected and the book caught on fire.

The hostess screamed, “AAAAHHHH!” and she jumped into the lap of her co-host, waving her arms and hollering. The director was holding her head, yelling “Cut! Go to commercial!” The cameramen were blinded by the flash and came out from behind their cameras. I stomped on the book, trying to put out the fire. The audience laughed hysterically. Apparently I made quite an impression – just not the one I was hoping for!

The hostess, still sitting in her co-host’s lap, said, “Oh, thank God I didn’t swear on live television!” Her co-host looked off-camera, snapped his fingers, and yelled, “Wardrobe! new pants for her, please!”

I looked over at Lance who was just off stage. He put two thumbs up and said, “Now, that was visual! But we should go now.”

In most places around the world, I may be considered an expert on networking, but in Connecticut, I think I’m considered an arsonist. So, no matter how embarrassed you may feel by some stupid thing you’ve done in life – just think of this story and you won’t feel so bad.

new normal

How to Network in the New Normal

With so many businesses and entrepreneurs quickly transitioning from face-to-face interactions to digital, networking has completely changed. Instead of meeting people at in-person events or venues, entrepreneurs are now needing to adapt to digital networking. You can continue to grow your social circle despite the current climate when you learn how to network in the new normal. You and your business can continue to network effectively in the new normal by adapting to digital networking

Please enjoy watching this pre-recorded video when I was taking on questions from the Entrepreneur.com audience to clear the air on a few important topics.

As businesses and entrepreneurs quickly transition from face-to-face interactions to digital, the way we network has completely changed. Instead of meeting people at in-person events or venues, entrepreneurs are now needing to adapt to digital networking.

poor planning

Poor Planning Can Lead To Problems

I just had someone send me a document that they needed to have completed RIGHT NOW for an important deadline they had.  Mind you, they could have sent the document months earlier. Due to their poor planning, they waited until the last minute to send it to me.  Normally, I wouldn’t sweat it and I’d fill it out pretty quickly and get it back to them.  However, on this occasion, I was in Panama on business.  I was headed home to Austin for less than 24 hours, then I was off to Charlotte for business meetings at BNI Global, and then I was off to Necker Island for some downtime.

They could not have caught me at a worse time – and they were completely aware that I was in the midst of my travels. Regardless, they emailed me, emailed my assistant, emailed my wife, and emailed all of us twice more (all within two days). In between my meetings, I dropped this person a message and said, “I’m sorry you have a problem but your project is not my priority due to your poor planning.  You had months to send this to me and you sent it at the last moment (when I’m swamped) and you want it right now.  NO.  I am not able to do it right now.”

In my bookWho’s in Your Room, I said that sometimes, “no” is a one-word sentence.  This is one of the times I made it a one-word sentence (OK, I know I had other sentences but I wanted to include that one-word sentence of “NO”).

I understand this person’s frustration.  She made a mistake in her poor planning and dropped this in my lap.  I’ve been there before but I did not handle it like she did (multiple demands for completion, reaching my assistant and even my wife – several times)!

Poor Planning Tips

I recommend you consider these suggestions if you find yourself in a situation where you are dropping your problem on someone else due to your poor planning:

  • Start with an apology:  “I’m really, really sorry but something has slipped through the cracks. I am getting this to you late.  I know you should have had it a long time ago but you didn’t and that’s on me.  I’ve attached it to this message. Is there any way you can get it to me by X date or time?  I know this may be an inconvenience but I would appreciate if you could make that happen.
  • Copy the assistant on the message (once – not multiple times).
  • NEVER harass the spouse.  Ever!  Mine didn’t particularly appreciate being pulled into something she had nothing to do with.  More importantly, she’s pretty confident that I’m a big boy now and don’t really need further parenting.
  • When you do get what you requested – thank them.  Throw yourself on the sword again. Tell them you appreciate them helping you out by getting it to you quickly.

Always remember – Someone’s poor planning can lead to problems! By the way, feel free to send this blog to anyone who tries to make their problems your projects.  Maybe they’ll get the message. 

Introverts

Introverts Can Be Great Networkers These Days

Being an introvert is not a networking handicap and is an advantage these days of online networking due to social distancing and self-isolation while working from home. A common assumption is that a “people-to-person” is the best type of networker. But this isn’t necessarily true. Though introverts often eliminate themselves from networking because they aren’t good at initializing conversations, they are better at the part of networking that’s more important to the relationship-building process.

Networking is a two-part process. First, you have to meet someone new and share information about yourself. The extrovert may be better at this first part of the process when face-to-face; but the introvert is better at the second part — listening to the person he or she just met online. Plus, introverts are better at asking questions. Here are a few more tips for online networking and for working at home.

Introverts and Extroverts

So, if you are introverted, put down that book and reach out to others. Stop using that as an excuse not to network. There are many techniques you can use to make online networking easier and more natural for you to greet people and introduce yourself. Networking is a skill that can be learned — regardless of your level of gregariousness. Even if you’re not outgoing or gregarious, you can form meaningful relationships with others online and support each other’s businesses.

Furthermore, if you are extroverted, stop using your isolation from working from home as an excuse not to network. Most entrepreneurs depend directly on others and have a comfort level in dealing with people. For extroverts, referral-based online marketing is still one of the best ways to build your business these days.

Take advantage of online training workshops these days that you can do from the comfort of your home office. These can teach you how to online network effectively. You’ll find that when you learn ways to handle these situations, you’ll become more relaxed and confident in an online networking setting.

You don’t have to be a people person to network, you just have to be willing to listen. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses each proportionally. A good networker asks questions and gets to know the other person. Once you know the other person, it’s much easier to grow each other’s business.

working from home

Seven Tips for Working From Home

In the early 1980s, I spent one of several evenings in the home of an entrepreneurial couple who lived in the foothills of Los Angeles.  This couple would regularly invite people over to their home to talk.  Talk about what?  Everything.  Life, relationships, business, and most of all – the future.  It was an informal mastermind group of people who loved good wine, forward-thinking, and great conversation.  One night after an interesting discussion among that night’s guests, the husband invited me into his office (but not working from home back then) and showed me a fairly large rectangular hard-plastic box.  It was a box with a very small, 5” screen on it.  He turned it on and it lit up with bright yellow monochromatic characters that flashed on the screen.  He said – “It’s an Osborne!”   “An Osborne what?” I asked.  “An Osborne computer,” he said.

By today’s standards, this precursor to the personal computer wasn’t much to look at.   The least expensive mobile phones on the market today have infinitely more computing power than that big box on his desk.  Nevertheless, I was impressed.  More importantly, I remember the words he said next:  “This kind of technology will change the world and the way people do business in it,”  Clearly, I could see how computers would enhance the business but, I still didn’t understand what he meant.  He explained that this type of technology “will allow people to do business anywhere – even at home!”   This was a prophetic comment if ever there was one.

Working From Home Tips

working from home

Working from home has become more common, and sometimes like today – more necessary. So, if you’re working from home these days, here are some things to consider:

  1. Establish a dedicated area as your workspace.  It could be a room or just a table.  But that is your workspace.
  2. Focus.  Don’t get distracted.  Your home is now your office.  Treat your workspace like your office.  Structure your day like you would in an office.
  3. Use the technology that is at your fingertips.
    1. Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting or any other platform that allows you to talk to people online.
    2. Here’s a crazy idea – talk to people using that 21st Century version of what Alexander Graham Bell invented – your telephone.
  4. That technology is great – but stay OFF social media unless it is directly work-related.
  5. Plan your day.  Schedule your work on your calendar, hour by hour.  This will help you stay focused and on track.
  6. Communicate your expectations and ground rules with anyone else that may be at home with you (toddlers and younger are an exception).
  7. Take breaks away from your “workspace” and go back to your workspace immediately after your break time is over.

Working from home can be productive, I know.  I’ve done it off and on for more than 35 years.  The trick is that you have to have a plan and work that plan… even when your work is also your home.

Gratitude

The Gratitude Effect

I recognize that when some people hear the phrase Attitude of Gratitude,” they are going to think, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, more new-age psychobabble, but we want hard facts.”  Well, I agree that hard facts are important and here are some from pretty reputable sources who argue convincingly about the science of gratitude’s positive impact.

The Benefits of Gratitude

  • Harvard Medical School recently reported that there have been multiple studies showing that people who express gratitude are “more optimistic and felt better about themselves.”
  • The Templeton Foundation conducted studies that showed that an “attitude of gratitude” can actually have a positive and “lasting effect on the brain.”
  • A paper published by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence concluded that “expressing gratitude completes [a] feeling of connection” with others (something I’d say is pretty important in building relationships).
  • Even neuroscientists argue that gratitude is effective. Paul Zak, professor at Claremont Graduate University states that “the neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust. . .” Especially when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public.
  • UC Berkley conducted fMRI scans on individuals who wrote gratitude letters and compared them to the fMRI scans of people who did not. They found that the people who wrote gratitude letters had a greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex than those who did not write the letters. The medial prefrontal cortex is, among other things, believed to be an area of the brain that triggers responses to nicotine, drugs and alcohol. In other words, showing gratitude is proven to be a healthy way of getting high.
  • Studies by the Cicero Group that were published in Forbes found that people who are on the receiving end of gratitude have a 33% increase in their innovation, a 22% increase in work results, and they stay with the organization longer than those who are in companies who do not have a practice of appreciating their people.

So much for psychobabble. Gratitude improves attitude, feelings of connection, and results.  It’s not new-age; it’s science.

The Gratitude Effect works when someone is coming from a place of being grateful and acknowledging people along the way.  This means that it is important to take time to notice all the good things you might take for granted. Like so many other principles of success, it’s simple, but not easy, meaning that this is a simple concept – but it is not an easy concept to apply regularly in your life.  It’s not easy, because the easy thing is to notice what is wrong, what you don’t like, what annoys you, or the problems that you face.

Solutions Focused

What I have learned over the years is that if you focus on problems – you become a world-class expert at problems, and it is hard to show gratitude when you are obsessed with the problems around you.  However, if you focus on solutions, you can become a world-class expert at solving those problems.  This process begins by recognizing what is right around us.  From that starting point we can be grateful for those elements. Plus, begin to acknowledge those around us for the efforts they are making.  The Gratitude Effect requires a life-long journey of developing our ability to be grateful.

Expressing gratitude completes the feeling of connection with others. Here is how you can start this practice today: many people have helped us during our lifetime.  They are “in our story.”  Have you acknowledged them? Have you thanked them?  Have you recognized the difference they have made for you?

I recently heard a story from a woman whose sixteen-year old son pretty much stopped going to school. His grades began to fail, and he started drinking alcohol.  Worst of all, he was caught stealing a car and joy riding late at night.  She told me that he was making some really poor life decisions and that she was beside herself with what to do.

She decided to send him to a leadership conference to see if that would help take his life in a new direction.  At first, he said, “no” but around the holidays, he said that if this was that important to her, he “would do it for her.”

He attended the multi-day event and came home telling her that the event was amazing.  He learned that people matter.  Decisions matter.  The people around you matter.  She told me that one of the speaker’s at that event had a particularly large impact on the young man.  Then she reached out to the speaker from that event and told him the story.  Expressing her gratitude for the impact that his talk had on her son’s life.  She told him “you gave me my son back.”  The speaker was so moved that he sent a video message to the young man telling him how grateful he was that he said something that the boy found helpful and that he was proud to be a small part of that. What’s more, the young man replied and told him a little about the life that he was now creating for himself.

The Gratitude Effect doesn’t take much effort and costs little or nothing. However, it makes a difference in yourself and the people around you. When you acknowledge people in this way, people are drawn to you like a magnet. This accelerates the relationship-building process. As the story above shows, the Gratitude Effect can come full circle and then continue to spiral off in new, impactful directions. Believe me.  It is science.

humility

Humility Makes For a Great Networker

Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.  Some of the best networkers I know are humble.  In fact, many of the most successful people I’ve ever met have been remarkably humble.  Humility and being successful don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

In my late teens, I remember going to a political function.  I had decided that I wanted to pour myself into a campaign for a particular individual whose platform I appreciated.  Then… I met him and was introduced to him by someone high up in his campaign.  As soon as he learned that I was a lowly college student, I almost immediately lost his attention.  His eyes were darting across the room looking for someone more successful than me.  He ended up being very dismissive and came across as incredibly arrogant.  After that encounter, I decided not to help in his campaign.  Instead, I picked someone running for a different office.  This person was engaging and friendly.  He was respectful of people that didn’t “appear” to have much to offer.  Speaking with everyone, rich or poor, educated or uneducated.  He welcomed my involvement in his campaign.  Within six months, I ended up running his entire regional campaign office.  I put in hundreds of hours in that campaign and helped this person win office.  This experience taught me a lot about the kind of leader I wanted to be as I became more successful in life.

Humility costs nothing but yields amazing returns.  Being humble sounds simple enough, but what does that actually look like?  There are many things that can help someone show their humility.  Here is a list of a few traits of being humble that I think are important.

Humility Traits:

  1. First and foremost, their ego does not enter the room before they do.
  2. They are approachable, meaning that they are friendly and easy to talk to.
  3. A humble person listens and asks questions during a conversation.
  4. Maintain eye contact in a conversation and stay engaged in the discussion. This shows genuine interest.
  5. They are comfortable making people feel at ease and thanking people when appropriate.
  6. Humble individuals tend to have an “abundance mentality” and they tend to focus on solutions rather than simply rail about problems.
  7. Be situationally aware and have strong emotional intelligence.
  8. They are not self-absorbed. They know their strengths and are comfortable with who they are, but they don’t behave as though the world revolves around them.
  9. Most importantly, they practice what I call “Givers Gain®.” They approach life with a certain amount of altruism and strive to make a difference for others.

As we become more successful in life, it’s critical to maintain one’s humility.  We’ve all met people whose ego enters the room before they do.  They behave in a pompous manner and generally expect to be the center of attention most of the time.  In the long run, I don’t believe this serves people well.

No one is perfect with this all the time.  The process is a journey, not a destination.  It is something we must always strive for.  At large networking events, I know that I’ve had a good day when people share with me that they are surprised at how easy I was to talk to or that they felt that I came across like a regular person.  I believe that there is a “regular person” in all of us.  Showing that person to others is part of being humble.

If you achieve success in business, strive to shatter people’s expectations and demonstrate real humility.  Be someone who is engaging and caring, as well as knowledgeable and successful. Above all, remember that humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.

garage to global

Garage to Global ® – Another Four Lessons

I literally built my business from operating out of my garage to a global enterprise with over 9400 BNI chapters in more than 70 countries all around the world. Overall, I have twelve lessons for you that I’ve learned from taking my business literally garage to global. I’ve covered eight so far in previous blogs.

Here are the final four lessons on how I took BNI literally from my garage to global organization

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

I think culture is the secret sauce to a successful organization. Your organizational culture is critical to your success. If you are part of a company that has a horrible culture and an amazing strategy, you’re not going to do well. However, if you are part of a company with an amazing culture and a really good strategy, you are going to be the industry leader.

Know your mission.

Get really clear about what your mission is. The mission of BNI is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships and referrals

Work in your flame, not in your wax.

Do the things you’re passionate about, and hire people to the stuff you hate doing. When you’re in your flame you’re doing things you love to do. When you’re working in your wax it’s taking all your energy away. There are times we may have to work in your wax. However, as soon as possible, you will want to hire somebody who your wax is their flame and they’re excited to do that.

Share a vision that everyone is striving towards.

BNI has dominated its industry in almost every market for decades because of a shared vision and a shared implementation of that vision. Vision is where you want to go and your mission is how you want to get there. BNI’s vision is “Changing the Way the World Does Business”.

So, these are the final four of my twelve lessons on how I took BNI literally from my garage to global organization. If you missed them, here are the links to the first blog and the second blog in this series.

garage to global

Garage to Global ® – The Next Four Lessons

35 years ago, I started BNI literally in my garage and in a small room above my garage. I am truly an example of taking a business from a garage to global company. I am sharing this month twelve lessons that I’ve learned from scaling my company and making it grow globally. These are things that I did not necessarily learn in college to take my business literally from my garage to a global enterprise.

Here are another four lessons on how to scale your business.

Know your numbers to go from Garage to Global.

You must get really good with your numbers and you got to have those kinds of numbers. I’d recommend weekly reports that you want to make sure to generate so that you can eyeball how you’re doing. You cannot hit a future goal if you do not know how you’re doing today. The key numbers that will determine whether you’re going in the right direction or in the wrong direction.

Do six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times.

If you want to be successful in business, focus on doing six things 1000 times. In BNI, it’s what we call “three plus one.” It is adding members, adding chapters, filling chapters and telling stories. Those are the key performance indicators for chapters. New BNI members should work on their networking education by reading books, watching YouTube videos, and having 121 meetings with people you really trust. Be a dog with a bone because persistence is a superpower.

Surround yourself with great people.

Look for the people who have values that are congruent with the values that you have. I’d recommend my book, “Who’s in Your Room?” It’s all about understanding your values and surrounding yourself in your room with the right people. If you have someone working for you who is not the right fit for you and your business, you’ve got to be able to let them go quickly.

Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.

As a new business, hire people with a great attitude and teach them. I prefer to hire somebody who is coachable and excited to be working for me. It’s okay to find ignorance on fire and coach them on how to do their job. When you do that, they will become very loyal to you because you’ve spent the time, mentoring and coaching them.

So these are another four lessons in how to take your business from “Garage to Global”. If you missed it, here is the link to the first blog in this series. This is all part of the garage the global material from a recent BNIpodcast that I’m working on right now for a future book. There’s more to come next week.

Garage to Global

Garage to Global ®

I am introducing today a concept I am calling garage to global. I literally built my business from operating out of my garage to a global enterprise with over 9400 BNI chapters in more than 70 countries all around the world. How did I do that? Well, first and foremost, I created a plan that I applied over the past 35 years of consecutive growth in the organization.

I want to share twelve lessons with you that I’ve learned from scaling my company and making it grow globally. These are things that I did not necessarily learn in college to take my business literally from my garage to a global enterprise.

Here are the first four lessons I learned to go Garage to Global in this video:

Learn to work on your business, not just in your business.

You have to learn how to work on your business, not just in your business. The difference is when you are “working on the business”, you are managing it strategically. When you are “working in the business”, you are doing all the work yourself. You have to learn how to be an entrepreneur. I was there, “working in the business” for a long time, but the quicker you get to be “working on the business”, the more successful you are going to be. Please read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber if you’re not familiar with this concept.

Create systems and write them down.

One of the secrets, I believe, to the success of my company was creating systems. You have to create systems processes, and then you have to write these systems down. Finally, you have to teach others what you have written down. Because learning is a leaky bucket process, stuff leaks out, unless it’s written down and done consistently.

Reverse-engineer your goals.

First, you need to set goals. You cannot hit a target you are not aiming at. I set my goals at three different levels. It’s a great technique to use when creating goals. I think goals are extremely important. But what we are often not taught in school is the importance of reverse engineering your goals. If you have a goal for the end of the year, where do you need to be at the end of each month between January and December?  Finally, you should review your monthly goals at the end of every month. This comparison will tell you right away, how are you doing? Are you “on track” or “way off.” And that’s way too late. And so the reverse engineering your goals is a critical element of scaling your business.

Delegate both responsibility and authority.

You have to learn how to delegate effectively. We tend to only delegate responsibility but we don’t delegate authority. That means someone who is responsible, but they also have the authority to make the decisions. Everyone you delegate should have 95% authority in that position. Don’t worry if people make a mistake. They will. It’s inevitable. You just need to be prepared to coach and guide them when that happens.

And so that’s a very short lesson on how I took BNI literally from my garage to a global organization. This is all part of the “Garage to Global” material from a recent BNIpodcast that I’m working on for a future book. There’s more to come. I will be posting the second and third blogs of this three-part series later in the month.

Secrets to Getting Referrals

Secrets to Getting Referrals

Networking groups can definitely help businesses generate referrals.  When attending referral-related networking groups, remember that your efforts should not focus on trying to “close a sale. If you want to get business from the fellow members of your networking group, educate these people about some of the specifics of your business and what to look for in order to refer you effectively. Here are some secrets to getting referrals to consider for educating people in your networking groups:

Train your Sales Force

Do not generalize

I have heard hundreds of thousands of introductions at business networking events in my 20 years of running a business referral organization. Many people, when outlining what type of referrals they want, use the words “anyone,” “someone” or “everyone.” I don’t recommend it. It is also important to remember that if you are in a group that meets weekly, your presentation should focus on something different each time in order to continue the educational process.

Bring support materials

Have something visual for members to view or leave with. Your chances of staying in their minds long after the day’s meeting are increased. A flier about a product sale or a newsletter from your company are good items to bring. You might also bring samples of an item you carry in your store or place of business.

Break your business down into keywords

When introducing yourself, break your business down into keywords. Each week you focus on simply one aspect of your business. In other words, break your business down into very small pieces. What are the words others will use as search terms about your industry? These are your keywords. You may be tempted to use broad approach-listing all the areas your business covers. Instead, consider that your fellow networkers will learn more about you if you explain one aspect of your business weekly at each meeting.

If you want to get referrals from your networking efforts, remember to train your sales force and provide them the support material they will need to find others searching for you based on your keywords. Chances are, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your results.

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