1. Ask how you can turn this into an income stream. Your brain. Your ideas. Your skills. Your passions. Look around to see if (and how) other people have monetized similar things. What aren’t you monetizing yet?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Monetize more things. Monetize your mind. Monetize your mission. Monetize your ideas.
2. Be on a constant search for new ideas. They’re everywhere, as long as you (1) Actively seek them out, (2) Listen closely, (3) Learn to freeze situations, (4) Look for parallels, and (5) Write them down. And probably the best source of these new ideas is your existing customers. When asked the right question in a respectful, curious way, the innovations your customers initiate will blow your hair back. For example, ask your customers, ‘What would you LOVE to have from us next?’ But only ask if you’re willing listen. Why are you waiting to be inspired?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Inspiration is available. Inspiration is free. Inspiration is lightning.
3. Be on a quest to constantly impress, challenge and surprise yourself. Like Bob Taylor, CEO of Taylor guitars. He’s spent the last 35 years building the best acoustic guitar company in the world. As such, he’s a guy who doesn’t need to work another day for the rest of his life. And yet, he still goes on monthly scuba expeditions in Brazil and Madagascar just to discover the world’s most rare and beautiful woods for his next line of guitars. What are you a crusader of?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Be absurdly committed. Be after stamina. Be always experimenting. Be considered crazy. Be ever vigilant. Be intensely curious. Be totally irrational.
4. Bring in work that improves your skills and keeps you competitive. Take the challenge. Take the plunge. Take on new clients that make you work harder than ever before.
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Burn your television. Start reading more.
5. Catch yourself growing. And when you do, write it down. Like that collection of hash marks on the doorframe of your parent’s house indicating your increasing height patterns as a kid. That’s how meticulous you need to be about your own growth. Are you spying on yourself?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Grow in wisdom. Grow your complexity. Grow slowly, daily.
6. Change the way you’re currently doing this in order to affect more people and in less time. Noticed a pattern yet? If not, let me spell it out for you: C-H-A-N-G-E. Kind of an important word when it comes to evolving your business. Where are you stuck?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Stir the pot.
7. Choose what new worlds you want to conquer. I know you. There will be more. There always is. That’s why we’re entrepreneurs. That’s what we do. Like the musician who spends ten years mastering guitar; then up and decides to take up banjo and mandolin. There will be more. The question is: More of WHAT?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Conquer new worlds. Own new markets. Become known elsewhere. Nobody’s stopping you.
8. Create a culture of growth expectance. Even if your company only has seventeen people. Even if your company only has two people. Expect yourself to grow. Expect others to grow. Expect your company to grow. Whom are you challenging to grow?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Swim or die.
9. Create a filter that evaluates the asset value of a potential new opportunity. Learn how you make decisions. Physically write out a list of questions to ask yourself. Create a governing document that serve as a guidance system for daily decision-making. Here. Check out these examples from my Opportunity Filter: ‘Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?’ ‘How would the person I’m trying to become do what I’m about to do?’ and ‘Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?’ Top Ten Coolest Exercises you’ll ever do in your life. Guaranteed. How do you make decisions?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: W.W.I.D – What would I do?
10. Creatively combine what you already have to make new things. Decide what new thing you want to will into existence. Then, decide how you want to it grow: Slowly? Quickly? Broadly? Stratospherically? When was the last time you couldn’t sleep because you were too excited about an idea?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Creativity is combining.
11. Decide at what point you are no longer making a living and, instead, building your business. No rush. It might take five or ten years to get to this point. Just keep in mind that the secret is growth. The secret is working ON your business, not just IN your business. The secret is creating scalable and saleable models that don’t always result in you working 90 hours a week. What are you building?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Diversity is equity.
12. Decide if you should be charging for this. Although I don’t know what your specific situation is, my guess is going to be, ‘Yes, you should be charging for this.’ Here’s why: (1) You’re worth it, (2) You need money and (3) When people don’t pay you, people don’t hear you. Now all you have to do is decide how much. What (aren’t) you charging for that you probably should be?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Sell price before value.
13. Decide what has to die before you can move to something new. Maybe it’s something inside you. Maybe it’s your website. Maybe it’s your brand identity. Maybe it’s your good-for-nothing business partner who never really contributed anything in the first place, but you were too stubborn to fire. Killed anything lately?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Must. Kill. Something.
14. Decide what kinds of clients – and what kind of work – you would like to have in three years. My friend David Newman of Do It! Marketing has a fantastic philosophy on this issue: ‘Do work you love with those you love and for those you love.’ Is your work an extension and expression of your love?
THREE WORDS OF ADVICE: Are you in love with this?
15. Discover which needs of yours are currently unsatisfied. What you have to do or else you won’t be able to sleep that night. What your non-negotiables are. What you must do, or you shall die. Those are your deepest entrepreneurial yearnings. And they MUST be heeded and given a helping hand. If not, what’s the point? Instead of asking WHO are you, how about: WHY are you?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Validate your existence.
16. Do not let this day pass without personal growth. That’s easy. Just ask yourself before you go to bed, ‘How did I grow today?’ And then, here’s the secret: Write it down. I’m serious. Keep a Growth Journal by your bed and spend five minutes before going to bed filling it out. Then, at the end of every month, go over your list. Then, at the end of every year, rewrite your list. That’s 365 moments of personal growth. Wow! You could write a book. How did you grow yesterday?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Practice mattering daily. Say affirmations daily. Doodle deliriously daily.
17. Duplicate YOU. Forget the sheep; I’m an advocate for HUMAN cloning. Especially for entrepreneurs, who can do so through teaching others. I suggest giving your fans a portable, junior, take-home, or alternate version of you. Now, sure. That might mean giving up (some) control in exchange for being able to grow and expand more quickly. And as entrepreneurs, this is one of the hardest things in the world. Because we’re all a bunch of control freaks who HAVE to do everything themselves. Is there anybody else who could deliver your information?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Blogging works brilliantly. Video work awesomely. Seminars work fantastically. Whitepapers work perfectly.
18. Embrace change and actually do something innovative. First, by creating a capacity for innovation. Second, by re-educating your subconscious, remaking your brain and resisting institutional inertia. And third, by remembering that flawless execution doesn’t exist. Make mistakes, make them early and make them quick. Then keep moving. What is the opportunity for growth is in this loss?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Boost innovation literacy. Personally symbolize innovativeness. Marketplaces will notice.
19. Engage in assignments, projects or clients that ENABLE you. To command higher fees than before. To learn new skills. To leverage more than in the past. To expose you to an important future opportunity. To increase (not just sustain) an existing relationship. To do future work with the same organization. To lead you into a new industry. To grow in new directions. To work with new, cool clients that represent long-term business potential. What is your current work enabling you to do and be?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Enable gentle revolutions. Enable shared power. Enable the process. Enable yourself daily.
20. Engage in regular, private time with a coach or consultant. Ideally, someone who has (actually) DONE something and (actually) grown in the way you hope to grow. Not someone who’s listened to a bunch of Nightingale Connant audiotapes and (actually) thinks that makes them some kind of expert. SO annoying. Look. Expertise comes from DOING. Find someone who’s DONE stuff. Who’s helping you evolve toward your true self?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Action changes everything. Action conquers fear. Action develops courage. Action solidifies credibility. Action builds confidence. Action strengthens reputation.
21. Exert your will for change. Start by noting where growth can occur. Then, manufacture helpful opportunities by playing in a manner that creates growth, no matter what the score is. If you’re not growing like you used to be, how can your business itself be altered?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Want to evolve. Want to grow.
22. Evaluate your value adding ability. Ask questions like: ‘What personal skills have I not tapped into yet to add value to my customers?’ ‘What personal skills have I not tapped into yet to build my business?’ ‘What products and services are my clients asking for that I don’t currently provide?’ The answers to these questions will help you conquer new environments, have new experiences and take your customers to new places. So, ask and listen. Listen to how your body responds. Because it will never lie to you. How many new skills have you recently become known for?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: You are an adding-value machine.
23. Find out if anybody else is doing this right now. If not, that might be a great reason to plunge forward. That way you can be the first. The Only. The One. The Guy. And the best part is, if you do it first, you get to name it. Then: When you name something, you gain power over that something. And you can do something about that something. And you can talk interact with that something. And you can begin exploration and working with that something. And eventually, you can get people to start talking about that something. If you do this, will you become the best?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Origin, not echo.
24. Grow beyond culture-imposed limitations. It’s a big hurdle to get over. But once you do, once you challenge yourself to pattern your life in ways that fly in the face of conventional wisdom, the world will open up to you. Whom are you done listening to?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Fight The Power. Biography isn’t destiny. Abandon popular delusions. Banish childhood labels. Break the veil. Continue to evolve. Deprogram your mind. Detoxify your thinking. Disconnect all shackles. Drop your training. Dismantle old assumptions.
25. Honestly assess in what ways you are currently obsolete. Still using a landline? Still advertising in The Yellow Pages? Still using AOL for your email account? Still using a PC? Still listening to a CD player? Still using that Glamour Shots picture you got taken 1993 as your professional headshot? Zoinks. What are you thinking? It’s 2009. Get with the program. What year are you still trapped in?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Upgrade your life. Upgrade your technology. Upgrade your approach. Upgrade your style. Upgrade your attitude.
26. Honestly confront the ideas you’re in love with that are preventing you from seeing clearly. I know you love your new company name and tagline. I know it’s cute and funny and makes your husband happy. But it doesn’t matter what YOU like; it matters what CUSTOMERS remember. Premature cognitive commitment isn’t only dangerous; it’s also expensive. What ideas are you dangerously in love with?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Love isn’t enough. Ideas aren’t enough. Preference isn’t enough.
27. Learn from the unrelated best. As a writer, speaker and consultant, I’m always on the lookout. Especially for entrepreneurial creativity in industries completely unrelated to my own. This is fantastic resource for evolving your business, as long as you’re willing to keep an open mind. For example, let’s take gambling and pornography. Sure, they’re controversial topics. And don’t worry; I’m not about to start a discussion on either one. Instead, let me just share two staggering statistics: (1) According to a 2007 study published in Gambling Magazine by Online Gambling Research and Markets Group, the online gambling industry will reach $125 billion by 2015. And (2), According to the World Pornography Review from Family Safe Media, 2006 worldwide revenues in that industry were just over 97 billion. So, while I’m NOT advocating online gambling and pornography one way or the other, I do think it’s blindingly obvious that those two industries clearly know what they’re doing. Maybe you could learn a thing or two. Besides, you could write it off as ‘research.’ ? What unrelated industries are you open enough to learn from?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Porn makes money. Gambling makes money. Ever wondered why?
28. Leverage this crisis into an opportunity to innovate. Start by imagining what business you COULD be in. And what new category your expertise COULD create. Then forecast the new markets you COULD be entering. And how much you COULD be charging. What’s your sequel?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Discover Blue Oceans. Swim uncontested waters. Be The Only.
29. Leverage your frustration in this situation as motivation to grow into more of the person you’ve always wanted to be. Anger is pointless. All it does is induce stress, poison relationships and keep Reality TV on the air. Learn to let things go quicker and more frequently. Instead, attend your energies elsewhere. Turn frustration into growth. As the Optimist International Credo states: ‘Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.’ How much longer can you put off being who you really want to be?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Anger disturbs action. Channel it elsewhere.
30. Make entrepreneurial mix tapes. Target a dozen or so (successful) companies, products, people or ideas that you think are cool. Next, pluck from each one a few attributes that stand out. Then, add in your own attributes and ideas to round out the idea. Finally, create a brand-spanking new idea. Something that doesn’t exist anywhere else. Something that people can’t really ‘define’ because it’s a composite of awesomeness that combines your unique idea with existing attributes of other people’s ideas. Think: ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ compilation albums. Whom are you plucking from?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Emulate, don’t imitate.
31. Make sure that everything you do is leading to something else you do. Edward DeBono, The Grandfather of Creativity, defined this as ‘movement value.’ And it’s the single greatest indicator of the leveragability of your opportunities. The ability to move from one idea to another. Now that I have this, what else does this make possible?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Creativity isn’t optional. Creativity is required. Creativity never stops. Creativity requires activity. Creativity requires faith. Creativity requires intimacy. Creativity requires questioning.
32. Note which old categories trap you. Physically write them out. Then ask yourself questions like: ‘What’s no longer working?’ ‘Is there a better, easier, cheaper and smarter way to do this?’ ‘Where did this category come from in the first place?’ Remember: Growth isn’t optional. What are you unwilling to change that prevents your business form evolving successfully?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Discard outmoded thinking.
33. Pick a symbol you need to surround yourself with as a reminder of the new image, values and style you are going to operate out of. When CEO Michael Dell learned that 54% of his employees perceived him as being unapproachable and, as such, would change jobs if they were offered a better position, here’s what he did. First, he made a video apology and sent it to every employee. More importantly, he kept a Curious George doll on his desk as a reminder to practice greater curiosity as a leader. What’s your reminder?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Remind your mind. Do it visually. Watch yourself evolve.
34. Pick the most important things for you to work on that will grow your business the fastest. I will now summarize every time management book and seminar with one question. This is the only question you ever need to ask yourself: ‘Is what I’m doing right now consistent with my #1 goal?’ If it’s not, pitch it. If it is, keep going. Simple as that. You’re welcome. How are you optimizing your time?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Time is valuable. Time is BILLABLE.
35. Pick the values do you need to throw out to make room for growth. Ouch. Was that the sound of a growing pain in your chest? Good. Because that’s all part of the adventure: An honest confrontation of which values are no longer applicable or profitable. What do you need to unlearn?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Eliminate old answer. Rewrite your scripts. Escape narrow definitions. Screw the neighbors. Screw the competition. Screw the reviews. Think new thoughts. Turn off traditions. Undo rote behaviors. Unzip your ego.
36. Pinpoint the excuses that are preventing you from getting started. Examples include, but are not limited to: ‘I don’t have the money,’ ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’ ‘I’m too young’ and ‘But I can’t just…’ If that’s the case, my question is: What’s your point? Do you think Mark Zuckerberg made those excuses when he created Facebook as a junior in college? Nope. He remembered the credo: Just go. Change the rules so you can win at your own game. Why are you still waiting for permission to be remarkable?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Jettison accepted limits. Recast your assumptions. Leave familiar territory. Comfort is overrated.
37. Predict when your business design will be obsolete. Face it: In ten years, everything will be different. There’ll be another Twitter, another Ipod and another Priius. There’ll be another Amazon, another YouTube and another Ebay. All of which will dramatically affect your business design. Will you be ready?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Evolve your business. Evolve your life. Evolve your career.
38. Prepare yourself to endure the failure that growth requires. Contrary to popular conditioning, failure IS an option – not learning from that failure isn’t. So, remind yourself that it wasn’t YOU who failed, necessarily. It was something in your strategy failed. That’s the attitude that allows you to fail your way to success. Are you making new mistakes or repeat mistakes?
THREE WORDS OF ADVICE: Failure develops elasticity. Failure is fertilizer. Failure is tuition. Failure isn’t final. Failures are blessings. Failures are deliverances.
39. Release your current knowledge to take in new information. It’s not just about learning; it’s about UN-learning. Taking out the (mental) trash. Making room for new ideas and insights that were previously uninvited into your fertile mind by that no-good-defensive-yella ego of yours. How much money are you losing by assuming you already known everything there is to know about your subject?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Release your learnings. Let newness enter.
40. Stay growth minded. Think how you can use this as a basis for growth. Think what you can you do differently TODAY to add new value to your business. Then, take specific, immediate action to ignite innovation. Where in your life are you rejecting growth?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Growth isn’t optional.
41. Stop typecasting yourself. You’re not a one trick pony. You’re not a one-product company. You’re not a one-idea entrepreneur. You’re not a one-book author. You’re not a one-anything anyone. You’re a lotta. A bunch. A crap ton. A fountain of possibility. Not a jack-of-all-trades. Just an evolving professional whose unique expertise slowly casts a wider net. Always out-doing and challenging yourself to break the veil of one-hit-wonderness for the sake of never going stale. So, remember what the master of evolution, George Carlin, used to say, ‘Continue to call on yourself a little more. And keep kicking people in the ass.’ What are you doing to prepare for the next phase?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Update your brand. Upgrade your expertise. Reinvent yourself regularly.
42. Uncover the mental obstacles that are preventing you from being an effective entrepreneur. Like your incessant need to be applauded. Like your gargantuan ego that won’t allow you to make public mistakes. Like your self-delusionional belief that you need to know what you’re doing to get started. Identify the behaviors are preventing you from making progress towards becoming the best version of yourself. And pinpoint the obstacles or threats that might prevent your vision from being fulfilled. In the past year, what choices and thoughts have renewed your entrepreneurial hope and energy?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Audit your Truth. Chart your weaknesses. Get over yourself. Articulate your fabulousness. Stay over yourself.
43. Use this situation as a catalyst to grow and evolve. Not to beat yourself up. Not to reinforce your negative self-image. Not to have something or someone to blame. Rather, as a vehicle for entrepreneurial realization. A kick in the ass that FORCES yo to s-t–r—e—-t—–c——h. At the same time, constantly monitor whether it will be a growth experience for you as a person, or merely more work. Is this an opportunity, or an opportunity to be used?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Don’t improve; evolve. Enable gentle revolutions. Then move quickly.
44. Use this to add more value to yourself. That’s the foundation of being teachable: Viewing everything and everyone as your mentor. Attending to all people and all situations as those from which you can learn and grow exponentially. Who’s teaching you?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Add compelling value. Add undisputed value. Add unmistakable value.
45. Use writing to exponentially increase growth in this experience. Writing is the basis of all wealth. For several reasons. First, writing is the great clarifier. Second, writing makes everything you do better and easier. Third, writing triples the learning of any experience, because if you don’t write it down, it never happened. What did you write today?
STICKY NOTE SUGGESTION: Writing changes everything. Writing ‘rights’ things. Writing brings clarity. Writing intensifies impact. Writing metabolizes life. Writing teaches everyone. Writing transforms pain. Writing untangles threads.