Tag Archives: dream

Selling Your Dream

If you’ve been reading our latest posts about the Plan-for-Planning process, you should now have a good business plan to kick off the next phase of your life.  Having done this a few times, I want all newcomers to entrepreneurship to be aware of the impact your new dream will have on your environment, especially those around you.  Read on to learn from my own experiences.

First, enjoy the excitement you have in your business vision.  You should be very passionate about it and eager to get started.  You’ll need every bit of that energy as starting a business isn’t for the weak minded.  It will be one of the largest investments you’ll make in your entrepreneurial journey and you need to take it seriously.  The reason I want you to feel the excitement is that every person you talk to about your business should feel your energy and passion.  I remember a discussion with my plumber when he stopped by to make a few repairs.  He asked what I was doing and I seemed to bubble over in my joy in just talking about the business. He said he could “feel the passion.”  I really hadn’t begun the business yet but the plan was in place and I was obviously ready to start.  That passion is critical at startup.  When it comes to selling your dream, people must believe that you believe in that dream 100%.  If they don’t feel it, they won’t buy it.

After you’re convinced you’ve got the best thing since sliced bread (or a really good business plan), you’re next step is to begin motivating your support team. These are the people around you that will support you physically, spiritually, mentally and any other way you need it.  You will want them to have the same amount of passion as you do, but this is unlikely.  Remember, this is your dream.  When I say YOU, I mean YOU.  No one will have the passion you do for this little idea.  Not even your wife or kids.  I started a business recently and it’s just beginning to take off.  It took a little longer than I expected but it is gaining some serious momentum (more on that later).  Do you think my wife and kids had complete faith in the idea? Not at all.  You see, the world isn’t full of dreamers, like us.  Some people just don’t like to take risks.  They are happy with a paycheck every two weeks.  Well, that’s my family.  I’m the starry eyed dreamer and risk doesn’t bother me at all but my wife saw it as a big risk, at least until contracts started coming in and the business grew.  Success was the proof that it was a good business idea.  Until success came, I had to bear the stress that I was on this journey alone (or so it felt).  Sure, everyone thought it was a good idea but they weren’t ready to jump on the bandwagon with me until it was a certainty.  This behavior by your loved ones isn’t unusual. In fact, it’s normal. My risk-taking is out of the ordinary.  Don’t get me wrong, my friends and family were supportive but they didn’t want to invest any energy into it until there was sufficient evidence of its success.

The hardest audience in selling my dream was my customers.  After all, if your family isn’t “ALL IN” then it’s going to be difficult to convince complete strangers to buy the service.  But, you already know that it will be difficult.  That’s why most people don’t start their own company.  Before I began reaching out to customers with my dream, I tried to create a brand around the service I was offering, which identified three key features that essentially made the question of buying the service all too easy to make.  I was figuratively laying a brick of gold on their desk and saying “this is yours at no cost.”  Strangely, no one touched it.  I was confused.  It’s free money and no one wanted it.  I soon figured out that two things were missing: understanding and trust.  These two factors were intertwined and stopped them from even considering grabbing the brick of gold.  They didn’t know me so they didn’t trust me, even when I cited the specific laws that clearly articulated the legality of their right to the money.  Trust was muddled by their lack of understanding of our service.  I had assumed that many customers understood what we were offering, but they didn’t.  Certainly, not in the detail I know it.  So, I began to work on these.  I got to know my customers better and created documents to explain the whole situation in detail (i.e. the problem and the solution).  Here’s where I ran into another barrier.  My customers didn’t realize it was a problem.  They didn’t even know this option existed.  Again, I put my nose to the grindstone and created more information to help my customers understand, specifically I captured information on how other customers were doing with this service so that they had a reference for the improvements it would make.

Eventually, they understood but the layers of mistrust were still as rigid as ever.  At this point, I thought I had them sold and they would grab that brick of gold off the desk.  But they didn’t.  Something else was holding them back. But what could it be?  The decision is a “no brainer.”  It wasn’t trust or knowledge of the service.  It had to be personal. But, I began to see this from many potential customers.  What personal reason could be stuck in the minds of so many people?  This was very strange to me. How could something so easy be personal?  These questions bounced around in my mind for months.

Then, I began to think about it from their perspective.  If I’m the customer, why wouldn’t I want my service?  There are two circumstances where I might be worried. First, what if I buy the service and it turns out to be a disaster? Second, what if I buy the service and it turns out to be a huge success?  The first question is easy to answer.  The customer wants some assurance that it will work. This is where my references and existing customers come in.  They can connect with potential customers to share their success stories.  The second question is a little harder.  My customer may worry that they will come under scrutiny for NOT hiring our service earlier if it turns out to be really successful.  My customer would never share these thoughts with me as it may make them feel vulnerable.  So, I began to help them see how to create their success story.  When I say “see their story”, I mean I put it in a visual process flow map that shows how we’ll sell the idea up the management chain while providing information that will answer all of their concerns, including why this wasn’t done earlier.  This process of brainstorming all of the possible barriers my customer can face, even the personal ones, has become a big part of my selling process. I include it in documents and presentations that I carefully share with my customers.  I make sure to paint a clear picture of how this decision will impact their reputation or how others see them.

That’s it for now.  Selling the dream once you’ve developed it will be challenging.  You have this great vision in your head that no one else can see and you have to find ways to help them visualize it.  And, of course, you’ll run into numerous barriers to materializing the dream.  Many of these barriers I would have never dreamt of but luckily a continual push has brought them to light.  Once you see the barriers, you have to resolve them.  Your customer’s issues are your issues.  The quicker you solve them, the faster you can get to the sell. Remember, business is always personal.

If you’ve got a story to share, send it to me at info@blitzteamconsulting.com.

How to Win Support for Your Entrepreneurial Dream

Your business should begin with a business plan and financial projections.  Dr. Business mentioned this in his posts some time ago.  These are valuable tools because they help us capture our dream and put it down on paper.  Without this clarity, most people will think you’re still in the creation process, molding your idea into something actionable, and will be reluctant to lend a hand.  Here are two things you need to create to turn the excitement you create in others into support for your dream.

Clarity of Vision.    Before you do anything with your entrepreneurial dream, you first need to paint it with enough clarity that you can describe it in detail beyond the normal person’s level of patience.   In a recent business venture, my partner brought me an idea of the business he wanted to start.  Initially, the idea was fairly simple and would be realized within a year.  Thinking this idea had merit, I decided to take a good look at it.  For me, it took about two months to fully vet the idea.  I looked at everything.  When I was done, I created a new vision for the company that was considerably different from the original idea.  The service offering was the same but the customer base was much broader and had a growth plan that spanned geographically and across different markets.  Another modification to the plan was the elimination of competition from other service providers by the new choice of the customer base.  Lastly, I created a technology plan to that was aimed at optimizing the processes through the use of technology that would eventually make it a hands-free process.  After my review, there was little I didn’t know about this plan.  I could easily talk for 3 hours on the new plan.  This is well beyond what anyone would want to hear in any one sitting. Granted you may not have put this much time into your idea, you need to be able to visualize and verbalize two main ideas; that is, what you are doing now and what you’ll do later.

What are you doing right now?  This is an extremely important question.  Imagine someone hears your idea and wants to invest in it (not a VC or angel investor).  You need to be able to tell them what you’ll do from day 1 through the first year.  Interested parties will want to know what actions you’ll take.  If you can explain those, then they will assume you’ve made a fairly good analysis of your idea.

Where do you see this going in the future?  This answer communicates the amount of time you’ve put into your plan.  If your answer is “I don’t know,” then most people will have serious concerns about the potential for this idea.  But if you can provide an answer that outlines the actions in year 2, year 3 and beyond, your audience will take further interest in your dream.

Market it to them.  One thing you know is that accomplishing your dreams all by yourself is almost impossible.  You need others to take a real interest in what you are doing.  Most startups fail.  This is a known fact.  Why?  Vision and support.  Without a vision, you won’t win support.   Without support, you’re on your own (and that’s really difficult).  Gaining support isn’t that hard.  It all starts with expressing your dream in a way that inspires others to want to be a part of your dream.   In fact, sharing your dream to inspire others must be one of your goals.  The key to soliciting support for your endeavors is to articulate your dream in a way that is clearly visible, tangible and palpable.  You can sell your dream without anyone ever even knowing it.  Here’s what you need to show them.

Vision. If you don’t have a clear picture of the future you want to create, no one else will either.  This means they can’t figure out how to help you get there.  The picture doesn’t have to be in extremely high resolution, but the more definition you can provide the easier it is to see.  Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, Sam Walton, Oprah, Bill Gates and many others have built an empire from nothing.  It all started with a vision.

Drive.  If you want to motivate people to action, they have to feel a sense of purpose.  In this case, it’s your purpose which must ooze out of every pore in your body, fall on the floor and splatter onto to others, infecting them with a strong sense of purpose.  There are plenty of examples.  Steve Jobs helped create Apple, then he was kicked out of the company he helped start.  He then created Pixar, which led to his return to one of the greatest companies in the world.  Steve wouldn’t be held down.  Now, that’s drive.

Passion.  Have you ever been around someone who without a doubt believed in what they were doing?  You could sense the excitement in their tone and body language.  After a few minutes of listening to them, you felt excited.  The love you have for your dream is what fuels your efforts and people should be able to sense that.  They should be able to see it, hear it, feel it,  and most importantly, adopt it.

Who are you marketing to?  Anyone who can help you move your goals forward.  I sell my dream to my mentors, friends, neighbors and anyone who takes an interest in it.  When I start talking about one of my businesses, I act like a kid in the candy store.  I’m full of excitement and energy and have the ability to ramble for days about the plans I have for them.  I share my dream constantly so my speech is well practiced and rolls of my tongue effortlessly.  Most people respond with a “slow down” comment somewhere in our conversation.

Here’s how I gauge my success in selling my dream.  In a recent startup of mine, almost everyone I spoke with wanted to become a part of the business.  I would ask someone for help and they would turn it into a job interview.  That’s how you know you’re on the right track and that your dream is so deeply embedded that it shines brightly in all you do.  In a phone conversation with a friend, he wanted to know what I was doing.  It had been a while since we last spoke.  After a few minutes, he asked me to call him on another day to understand my latest endeavor in detail.  He wanted to be a part of it.  He stated that “anything you do is surely well thought out and likely to be a big winner.  I’m in.”  I wasn’t really asking him for help.  I was just talking about my dream.  Now imagine you get an offer of support from everyone you talk to.  You’re almost guaranteed to be a success.

Remember, your success hinges on your vision and your ability to sell it.  Once you define and believe in it, things will begin to fall into place.  The world loves dreamers.  We want someone to follow.  Dreamers provide inspiration for us to follow our own dreams or become a part of theirs.

That’s it for now.  The burden is yours.  What will you do?  Wish it or build it?

I’m More Than What I Do

I really hate the fact that everyone judges me by only what I do in my job.  It’s like I don’t have any other skills than the ones that are needed for it.  When I look at management, I see backgrounds and experiences that seem to be all over the place. Some have more credentials but most have less.  Yet, my experience is obviously too limited to consider me for any other opportunities (or so others think).  I’ve seen this happen inside my current company and even on the outside by recruiters and HR personnel.  Recruiters will say “well, this is all you’ve ever done.”  Well, I thought, doesn’t just about every manager that has taken such a role enter it with little to no experience?  I thought, how is the risk any different with me?  Isn’t management one of those positions that have very little requirements for entry (not like an engineer, doctor or lawyer)?  Someone had to take a chance on them.  Why not me?

Have you struggled to figure out why opportunities don’t come your way?  You have lots of skills and you put in enormous efforts to keep them current and even upgrade them.  Yet, all of this goes unnoticed.  Opportunities are not as abundant in the workplace as society would have us believe and most of these aren’t handed out fairly.  Despite that, we keep hope and devote energy to our dreams.  Too often the dream starts with a job in our chosen profession.  We slave away at it for years trying to prove to ourselves that we are really good at it. Once we are comfortable with our performance, we seek to impress others.  But if our efforts go unnoticed for too long, we lose motivation and begin questioning our perception of our own abilities. It affects us. Some lose motivation.  Yet, others are launched into their own personal reformation.

When I began, it was all about my dream.  I would have done anything to achieve the greatness I sought.  I just didn’t know how to go about achieving it.  So, I did what I heard others say.  That didn’t lead anywhere.  Why?  It wasn’t where I wanted to go.

Listen to your dream.  I wanted to be successful.  That was all the definition I had.  I understood the capital I was willing to invest in it.  I was going to learn all I could, work as long as it took and devote whatever energy was required.  I kept moving forward and accomplishing things.  Yet, it didn’t seem to produce the success I sought.  Perhaps I wasn’t defining the right direction for what I pursued.  Did I ever sit down to truly define what my big success looked like?  No.  I was simply using a trial and error method.  I’d have a little success.  Then, I would wait to see what happened.  If nothing happened, I would work hard, achieve something and try it all over again. The success didn’t come.  I couldn’t figure out what was happening.

I was driving through my career with a GPS on the dash but I didn’t have a destination plugged in.  I based my happiness on how the journey felt.  But at times I would pull over and realize I wasn’t happy where I was.  But where should I be?  I didn’t really define where I wanted to go or a path for getting there.  This is what many of us do.  No real plan.  No real direction.

Then, one day I was driving down the road listening to the radio.  You know, all that career noise out there that tells us how to really create the success we want in our lives.  Most of these stories are told by people who are situated to benefit from our adoption of their advice.  Let’s consider the MBA degree.  So many of us chase this credential thinking it will launch a highly successful career.  Why?  Because academia tells us that it will put us on a meteoric rise to fame and fortune.  Who benefits if we engage on this advice?  Immediately, they do.  The risk is all yours.  You risk not only money but the most valuable resource you have, your time, with no guarantee of a return.

My point is that we listen to the noise that surrounds us to get an idea of what success is and how to obtain it.  We only end up unknowingly contributing to someone else’s.  Turn off the noise.  Listen to your own dreams and align your efforts with the things you really want.   How? Here’s a cool process from Dr. Judith Orloff.

Four Steps To Remember Your Dreams 

  • Keep a journal and pen by your bed.
  • Write a question on a piece of paper before you go to sleep. Formalize your request. Place it on a table beside your bed or under your pillow.
  • In the morning do not wake up too fast. Stay under the covers for at least a few minutes remembering your dream. Luxuriate in a peaceful feeling between sleep and waking, what scientists call the hypnagogic state. Those initial moments provide a doorway.
  • Open your eyes. Write down your dream immediately; otherwise it will evaporate. You may recall a face, object, color, or scenario, feel an emotion. It doesn’t matter if it makes perfect sense-or if you retrieve a single image or many. Record everything you remember.

When you’re finished, refocus on the question you asked the previous night. See how your dream applies. One, two, or more impressions about the who/what/where of your solution may have surfaced. Get in the habit of recording your dreams regularly. If your answer doesn’t come the first night, try again. More details will emerge, rounding out the picture. Then look to your daily life for evidence of what your dream tells you.

Sharing your dream.  Working in a corporate environment is really strange.  It’s often a building with a lot of people working on the same goal but secretly working on their own goals.   Career ambitions fit in the same category as salary.  It’s passé to talk about them.  Perhaps organizations are afraid that too many employees will develop desires for the corner office, for which most will certainly be disappointed and eventually grow frustrated. There’s only room for a few at the top so it seems crazy to allow so many people to create ideas that will never come to fruition.  So maybe it is a good practice that we don’t allow people to discuss such things at work, as it might help avoid the creation of unhealthy expectations.  Here’s the thing, we create expectations anyhow.

Theodore Hesburgh said “The very essence of leadership is [that] you have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”   Most of us are afraid to share our vision, so we don’t blow a horn at all.  After years of sitting in a job that we’ve worked hard at and earned an advanced degree that no one seemed to notice, we still hold on to some  weird, unfounded sense of hope.  We sit and wait for an opportunity. In other words, we are part of someone else’s vision.

If you don’t share your dream with others, your success becomes a victim of circumstances that you don’t control.    Robert Fritz put it eloquently when he said “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”  You comprise your dream with what others are willing to give you.  Are you in company that hasn’t given you an opportunity in years?  Have they discussed anything with you?  It’s time to abandon such a passive approach and it all starts with sharing your dream for who you want to be.  Sure, disappointments will come. You won’t be successful in every company.  No one is.  But at least you will develop a strategy for finding the right environment for achieving your dreams.  Telling others about your dream helps you define what is possible or reasonable.  Letting others know what you want to achieve gives them the vision too.  Those who can help you will.  If no one helps you, you may be in the wrong place.  Then, you’re faced with a compromise:  do I stay or do I go?”  But that’s getting ahead of things.  The first thing is to engage in painting your dream throughout the organization and assessing it’s response.

Draw correlations to value.  Just like you, most young, energetic professionals looking to make a name for themselves heavily invest in new skills to create value.  I’ve been in many executive training courses, only to discover that the highest echelon doesn’t attend such training.  After one class, I asked the trainer why they constantly taught us about issues that executives face, when he could just discuss this with class members.  He responded that they didn’t attend these classes.  For many reasons, this doesn’t surprise and it does provide some logic as to why they don’t understand the value that certain skill sets offer to the company.  Let’s consider the MBA degree for a moment.  I look at it this way.  If your job didn’t need the MBA before, it probably doesn’t need it now.  Just possessing the MBA, or any advanced degree, doesn’t provide the company value, so you won’t be rewarded for it.  I know too many professionals that have a MBA in a job that doesn’t need one.  They only thing they have to show for their accomplishment was a $90,000 bill from the university.

Ideally, management needs skills that can make them money.  This can be growing revenue and profit or reducing cost of operations.  Can you articulate your new skills in light of their monetary benefits?  As with the MBA, if your management doesn’t have an advanced degree, they don’t know what you can do now or how it can help the company.  You have to help them understand the value.  They just see you as the same person who’s been in the same job for some time.  Once they say that, they don’t really look at you again, unless you give them a reason to.

How do you correlate your skills to value?  If your job doesn’t offer opportunities to demonstrate your new abilities, you have to create them.  Your skills must be demonstrated.  They must be put on display for others to see.  It’s the same situation as in professional sports.  You have to build your skills and then step out on the court or field and show them what you can do.  You must impress those who feel they are already at that level.  You can’t just talk about it.  They want tangible proof if they are to believe you possess extraordinary talents and skills.  If you step out on the court and show them you can play once, they’ll say you have potential.  If you continue to demonstrate your skills over and over, then you’ll belong at the next level.  Remember, just possessing new skills isn’t enough.  Potential value doesn’t help anyone.  Put your new skills into action and create value.

Take some time to see where you can create value.  Solving company problems is always a good place to start.  Talk with managers to determine what issues you can work on.  Companies have issues so there will be things for you to do.  Other ways to show your skills include learning, influencing, motivating, negotiating, trust building, team building, decision-making and developing others.  Just make sure that whatever you choose to engage in, your path stays aligned with your dreams.

Market and sell your skills.  I know what you might be thinking here.  I’ve demonstrated my abilities.  Isn’t that enough?  The answer is definitely NO.  It depends on your organization’s leadership.  As you move it, the challenges grow harder and harder.  I have a friend that plays professional basketball.  He’s 6’8” and a great shooter.  He’s played in international leagues for years and was recently invited to tryout with the LA Lakers.  You know he’s good now, right?  Anyhow, they offered him a spot with pay at the league minimum, which was lower than what he was earning already.  He didn’t take the offer. Why?  He realized that even though he has great talent, it wasn’t valued to the level he felt it should be.  Sound familiar?  This is what you’ll find in many companies.  But my friend has pursued his dreams differently.  He stepped up and tried out for the team.  He took his talents and spread them all out to be judged.  He understands that to reach his dream, he has to continuously put his skills on display in hopes of finding someone who values his talents as much as he does.  Have you done that yet?  Or do you sit back and rely on your credentials to communicate your value.  Consider the previous MBA example.  So many professionals earn the degree thinking that this is all they need to achieve their dreams of great success.  My friend is already one of the best in basketball but he still has to prove himself every time he steps on the court.

High performing professionals realize that the interview is never over. 

Interviews are never over.  Sure, you get passed the first round to gain employment in the company but that only gets you through the door.  To gain access to new doors of opportunity, you have to continue to market and sell your abilities.  Remember, the initial interview is only looking for a specific set of skills, not every skill you have.   Companies are only trying to meet an immediate need.   There always trying to meet an immediate need.  How can you help them?  You can’t just try to do your best in your job.  Otherwise, you will stay there.  You have to push yourself beyond what they are just asking you to do.  You don’t think they asked my friend to just score 18 points per game?  No. They want him to do whatever it takes to help the team win.  Sometimes that means he has to take the lead and sometimes he focuses on helping others be successful, no matter which team he is on.  Are you ready to do that?

Here are a few steps you can take to develop a continual focus on marketing and selling yourself.  Practice them and they’ll become a habit.

  1. Develop the attitude that you always have to be improving your game. Never settle for average performance.
  2. Look at each situation as an opportunity to demonstrate any of your abilities, not just the ones your job calls for on a daily basis.
  3. Always perform at your best, no matter how simple the task. You are judged on everything you do.  Remember, executives worry about how they dress, speak, etc.  Everything matters.
  4. Seek new audiences. Don’t just focus on supporting your team.  Engage other managers in other departments to seek problems to solve.

Life is waiting.  What are you waiting for?  Living your dream all starts with knowing what it is.  Without a clear definition of what you want to achieve, your career will simply be a meandering across time collecting experiences and credentials that don’t really get you where you want to go.  Push the limits of your environment to see if it aligns with your dream.  Remember, your dream won’t be realized in every environment you’re in.  You have to find the right place with the right people who value what you offer.  If you’re not there, keep on chasing your dream.  In the words of one of my favorite speakers, Les Brown, “If you take responsibility for yourself, you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams.”  Don’t allow the world to define who you are.  Let your dreams define you and your actions the proof.