Review: Think And Grow Rich – Napolean Hill

Rating: 4.5 stars. This was a great, serious read. I gathered some great insights and learned a load about things I do and shouldn’t and things I don’t do and should – to be successful. This is a comprehensive argument and guide to being successful. My only issue with this book is that it is outdated – however EVERY lesson is true and worthwhile reading. I highly recommend this book. You can buy it from The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide).

This was a great read that I found quite hard to put down, even though I have been very busy. Napoleon Hill after years of research, thousands of interviews with America’s richest and most powerful leaders and a lot of time to think, reasons that there are 13 steps to being successful. Here they are with my take on them:

  1. Desire – Having something you really want to achieve, earn, buy or find is key in the long run. It gives you a target to aim at, something to think about when you need motivation, and most of all the end point of a journey. This is the starting point in your journey to success. What do you want?
  2. Faith - Knowing what you want and believing you can achieve it is paramount to success. 99% of people will bash your goals and be nay-sayers. You need to believe in yourself and your goals to keep motivated in your journey to success. Thinking positively, visualising yourself achieving your goals is also very important. Do this often and you may trick yourself into believing! Are you self-confident and believe in your vision?
  3. Auto-suggestion – Train your mind. Repeatedly and systematically think and meditate about your goals. Consistently bringing your desire to the forefront of your mind will help you see the opportunities available to you, train your subconscious, filter out negativity and make you strong in your desires. Do you take 5 minutes out every day to think about your mission?
  4. Specialised Knowledge – Read, talk about, learn about as much as you can. But that is not enough, learn to apply and use this information. Information is not knowledge until you know how to use it. Do you take the time to think about what you learned every day?
  5. Imagination – Test your mind, search for problems, imagine solutions. Most importantly when you believe you have a solution, BELIEVE you have the solution. Be confident and definite in your ideas and your plan to execute them. Have you come up with ideas and stuck with them?
  6. Organised Planning – Take your desire, your ideas and cement them in a plan to take action. Make sure you are comprehensive in detailing your plan, write it down, tell people about it, make yourself accountable. It’s not good enough to have an idea, work out how you will execute it, and then make sure there are fail safes to keep you on queue. Have you written down your plan of action yet?
  7. Decision – Be decisive. Whenever you have to make a choice, do your research, make a decision, stick with it and do this all very quickly and efficiently. Indecision leads to problems, distrust, lack of confidence from those around you and problems just keep getting bigger. Being decisive makes sure you don’t procrastinate. Are you being decisive?
  8. Persistence – ALWAYS stick to the plan, do not be swayed by obstacles and negative people, be confident in yourself and Go! Go! Go! The secret to attaining your goal is ruthless persistence. If you are the most driven, most focused, most desirous person out there, YOU WILL WIN. When was the last time you stuck with your goal to the end?
  9. Power of the Master Mind – Surround yourself with people that add value to you, assist you with skills and knowledge that will help you achieve your goals. By bringing intelligent, talented people together, you can play to your strengths and theirs. This helps eliminate weaknesses and build a team of successful people. Who do you spend your time with? Are they adding value to your journey or detracting from it?
  10. The Mystery of Sex Transmutation – According to Hill, during intercourse or other sexual activities we are at our most lucid and creative. It is at these times when we can transfer our most powerful energy towards our goals, harness the power of our imagination and see the thing we most desire. I won’t confirm nor deny this to be true, but having a supportive partner is imperative. Does your partner actively support your endeavours?
  11. The Subconscious Mind – The most powerful thing of all is your mind, your subconscious. This is where decisions get made that you aren’t even consciously aware of. This is where things get “seen” that you may not notice, this is the filter of your mind. You must train your subconscious to possess and amplify these emotions: Desire, Faith, Love, Sex, Enthusiasm, Romance, Hope. And you must eliminate and block out these emotions: Fear, Jealousy, Hatred, Revenge, Greed, Superstition, Anger. Are you training your mind to be positive?
  12. The Brain – Your brain can receive and transmit information through thought. Surround yourself with positive people, and you will possess positive thought. Think about your desires and the opportunities to achieve those desires will suddenly appear plain-as-day. Use your brain and your thoughts to tell the world what you want and attract that closer to you. Do you think about what you want enough?
  13. The Sixth Sense – Napoleon talks about this in much the same way as “Enlightenment” or Nirvana: it is the state where your mind and desires fit with your surroundings and the Universe. I interpret this slightly differently. I think when you know what you want, you know what drives you and you are so focused on this end goal you suddenly see things (opportunities) that make your goal realisable. By following these 13 steps, you can train your mind to see what it needs to see, and to act when it needs to act. Have you ever just suddenly spotted opportunities in front of you that weren’t that obvious?

Most of all, the power of the mind is one to be reckoned with. I believe in this wholeheartedly. I believe what you think, what you believe is permanently transfixed in your subconscious and everything you do and see is filtered through this lens. Training your mind to see what it needs to see helps you spot opportunities, grasp them and win. To be successful quickly and with the least amount of pain, I recommend you buy this book.

Have you read “Think and Grow Rich”? What did you think of the book? Lets discuss this in the comments below.

Kill it before it kills you

I think a common problem in businesses (startup or established) is that issues don’t get solved quickly enough. I say “solve it now, or accept death as the outcome”.

In my experience, issues arise every day. Some of them big, some of them small. But all of them need to be solved – quickly and efficiently. The longer you dawdle and mess around, the bigger and more complex those problems become, and harder they are to solve.

Some problems I have had to worry about in the past:

Founder/Shareholder causing more trouble than it’s worth. I learned a lot from this issue and have applied my learnings on a very consistent basis. If you have a tough problem, ours was a documented shareholder, solve it QUICKLY. We chose to be passive and address the shareholder slowly and cautiously. The outcome was that it took 4 months to get an answer, the company was closed down and friendships were destroyed. The problem had been going on for ages, and we just ignored it.

I learnt: Always have a comprehensive and detailed shareholders’ agreement. Always approach the person face-to-face, and immediately bring light to the subjects of concern. Set a reasonable due date and enforce this. Be personable, approachable, friendly and frank.

Negative colleague causing the team to get frustrated and angry. In a recent job I took, I also trained a new employee, X. I found this guy lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem, and tried to bear with him and help him along the way. Following my extended training time, I left him be and I was moved to a separate location because I was self-reliant. Over the course of the next few days I had various conversations with other team mates, and consistently heard about X being negative, distracting, disruptive and frustrating. He was bringing a whole lot of negative energy and problems top the team which was cause for concern. This was in contrast to the happy, joyful and often humorous landscape that was the team prior to Employee X arriving.

The following day I asked Employee X if he would join me for a coffee and we had a chat. I was frank and to the point about what was happening and why I thought that was. I also suggested that being more positive, joyful and self-confident would solve the problems in the team and improve his relationship with team members. It was a hard conversation to have, but afterwards there was a drastic change. He was easier to be around, more positive, cheerful and much more self-confident. What a revelation! And, the team was a lot less frustrated and distracted. WIN!

I learnt: That approaching the person head on and privately is an effective way to solve a people problem. In the long-run, it is always best to hire Happy People, and get rid of those that don’t meet expectations.

I find myself using these principles every day. Whenever there is something that doesn’t feel right, a reaction I didn’t expect, a hindrance I need to address, I make an effort to enquire, ask about, and solve these issues. This is working great for me, what about you…?

What issues did you leave too long to address? What successful stories do you have about issues you solved quickly?

Opportunism to the #entrepreneur

It’s been a wee while since I last made an appearance on this blog. My apologies, but life has hit me like a 50 tonne train carrying a tonne of bricks. Having read Ben Young’s recent blog post about opportunity and having one of those epic days, I thought I would write about a trait I think every entrepreneur naturally has – or can develop: Opportunism.

Opportunities present themselves at the most inappropriate moments, but they do it often. One thing I think every entrepreneur does well is spot these seemingly inconsequential events (opportunities) and grab them by the horns. Great entrepreneurs are, as Ben says, always prepared for those opportunities. But most importantly, they have an open mind which really helps them see them. I have the perfect example from today…

On my way to a meeting with a potential mentor/advisor/investor I got into the lift, and someone joined me. He was going to the 5th floor, I was heading to the 3rd. I asked “What’s on level 5?” And he told me that he worked for Company X.

Company X rang a bell, I remember hearing about it from the Stephen Tindall talk I recently attended. I asked if I could come find out more after my meeting. And off I went…

Immediately after my meeting I visited Company X and was introduced to the Sales Exec and all three of us went and had a coffee. What an awesome conversation we had. We had an interesting discussion about what their business was and what it was doing, it’s customers and a whole lot more. I learned a lot. But then it was my turn to chat myself up (as you do, right?). After my spiel, they asked what I would do with their online strategy and then how much I would cost. Of course I said “Let me have a more detailed look at your company and what I could do, but can I get in touch.”

Cards exchanged, hands shaken, smiles transferred and what an awesome day.

End result: social media consulting client “sold”

Where did this all come from? One question “what’s on level 5?” An opportunity arose, I grabbed it, I followed up and now I have something exciting to work on. Are you being opportunistic in everything you encounter?

What amazing opportunity arose recently that you grabbed by the horns? Let’s discuss this in the comments below.

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Wanna Run? by Clay Hebert

Some very strong and motivating words from Clay Hebert of http://www.dailysense.com/ as found on the SXSW Pokes eBook by the Domino Project.

Two words can change everything.

I love playing basketball.  I remember being 11 years old and going to the local playground.  A bunch of older kids were all just shooting around at the two hoops and not really playing.

I asked a simple two-word question that changed everything, “Wanna run?”

They all nodded excitedly and we started a full-court game that lasted for hours.  More players showed up.  A group of girls showed up just to watch.  Everyone had a great time and we didn’t leave until they shut off the playground lights.  We started playing every night at the same time.

The sad, surprising tale is that this same scene has repeated itself hundreds of times in my life.  I show up to a court and everyone is just shooting buckets, like they need an 11-year old’s permission to organize a game.

“Wanna run?”

Minutes later, we split up teams and we’re immersed in a competitive game, whether 3 on 3 or full-court 5 on 5. In 23 years of doing this, it has worked every time.  Never have the other seven people said “no, I just came to shoot”.

Thousands of hours of fun and exercise for hundreds of people from two simple words.

So what’s stopping you?   You have dreams, ideas, that book you want to write, that blog you want to start, that trip you want to take.  So why are you standing around shooting at the hoop?

Wanna run?

What dreams do you “wanna run”? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments below.

I’ve lost my marble

In reading I am a strange loop, by Douglas Hofstadter, I came across this great poem by one of his students. It refers to a phenomenon that Douglas encountered with a box of envelopes. One day he stuck his hand into this box of envelopes and grabbed the pile. In doing so he felt a marble in amongst the envelopes. Unfortunately, a search for the marble was inconsequential and thus he made a discovery: there was no marble to start with. I found this highly amusing, I hope you do too.

Ode to a Box of Envelopes
(For all who have lost their marbles…)
by Jeannel King

A box of env’lopes on the floor –
I want to shift them to my drawer.
I squeeze inside — there’s something there!
I look inside — there’s naught but air.

I squeeze again and  marble find.
Is this a marble of my mind?
Determined now, and one by one,
out come the env’lopes — still no plum!

For closer views of each, I must
brave paper cuts and motes of dust.
In tips? Or env’lope forty-six?
My marble, whole, and does not exist.

Then coarse-grained Mother whispers “Nell,
you keep this up, you’ll go to hell!”
To which Dad counters, “Mind yer mopes!
Let Nell seek God in envelopes!”

So envelopes lie all around
as I sit, vexed, upon the ground.
My marble’s lost, but in my core
could there, perhaps, be something more?

For more than parts this whole has grown:
No single part doth stand alone.
In parts, the marble simply mocks.
Intact, I think, I’ll keep this box.

The poem takes us through Douglas’s discovery.

He felt a marble when he grabbed the envelopes. So, he went in search of the marble. Alas, nothing but air, there was no marble to be found. So, he took all the envelopes and laid them out, to find this marble that he felt. There was no marble in sight.

So he gathered up the envelopes again and put them back inside the box. In doing so, he felt, once again, that there was a marble amongst the envelopes. His discovery was in fact that there was no marble at all, but when the envelopes had been held the overlap of the envelopes created a “marble”.

This was in fact an illusion. But, I love the analogy because this happens so much in life. We make judgement calls based on what we feel, and often times this judgement may be an illusion.

Has something like this ever happened to you, figuratively or literally? What’s your favourite analogy? Why?

Lawrence of Arabia got it right

“All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find it was only vanity; but the dreamers of the day are the dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”
-T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)

Which do you fall under? What are your dreams?

Entrepreneurial success – Networking is vital

I have been working on my business with a great business partner for over a year now. I think I know a few things about starting and running a business by now – let’s discuss in the comments.

Starting a business is a hell of a task, time-consuming, financially-draining but really awesome and fun. One of the things I am glad I have been doing from the beginning, and something many starting entrepreneurs don’t realise, is building a support network.

You have to get out there! You have to get people to support you (and your ideas)! You have to do it now!

When you are out networking, there are some important ways to go about it. I suggest you approach it as follows:

  1. Go to all the events you can. Meet new people in the areas of your life you are passionate about, and in the areas of your business you need help with. My passions include starting businesses, social media, technology, hockey, rugby and reading. My company needs help with marketing. I attend business networks, entrepreneur meetups, investor meetups, media tweet ups, and marketing events. This has helped me build a professional network of over 800 people (350 on LinkedIn) in the past 9 months.
  2. Have conversations! So many people go out to network, just to “network” and collect business cards. This does not work in the long run. You need to have conversations with the people you meet; find out “who” they are, what they are passionate about, what drives them etc. This helps you identify who the valuable contacts are and those that you enjoy the company of.
  3. Talk about your passions. If questions are directed your way, guide them towards your passions. When you talk about what you know, what interests you and what you are passionate about, people listen and remember. This is because when you talk about these things, your face lights up, you smile, you can hear the enthusiasm and love in your voice. This makes the people around you do the same. Blow them away with your energy!
  4. Get business cards or contact details. Make sure you get everyone’s contact details. Don’t just give yours out, most people are not reliable and you should take the initiative to get in touch anyway. Get their contact details!
  5. Follow up. It surprises me how many people don’t follow up and get further meetings with the people they meet. You have to meet with someone at least three times before you have a meaningful relationship with them. I have been caught out on this before, and it has really hit me hard. I have missed out some key relationships and had to work hard as a result. When you get home after an event, or the next day do these two things: (1) send an email to the person you met – say “it was great to meet you” and set up a meeting – and (2) save all their details in your “people-management” system (THIS IS VITAL). I use Gist.com to manage all my contacts – it’s quick to add new people, their details and it integrates with everything – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email etc – and its available online or as an app.

Once you take these steps and have a couple of meetings you will grow some great relationships. These people will be the people that take you places, introduce you to people who will help you bootstrap your business. They are part of your community, treat them well because they all know each other. Good Luck with your community-building.

What have you done to build your community and support network?

What’s your D.I.D.?

The world’s businesses are jumping wholeheartedly into Social Media. This is undeniable.

Many of these businesses, however, are ill-equipped to do their promotion through this channel effectively or correctly. This means, that as users of social networks, we are in for a hell of a ride in the upcoming year.

My advice to businesses: learn a little before taking the dive.

There are a few key concepts and practices that will set you a part from the millions of other businesses seeking attention from “customers”. Find out what these are, they will make it work for you, and for your customers.

Businesses, as I see it, have two options:

  1. Hire a full time Social Media person. This person exhibits your company brand, attitude and personality. They are fully focused on growing your “community”, they don’t care about customers, they care about passionate fans.
  2. Outsource your Social Media activities to an experienced professional. They will be passionate about your brand identity, your attitudes and personality. They want to know your business, your customers, your fans, YOU. They want to grow your community and be part of it.

Option 1, is almost always the best alternative. It keeps everything in-house, in your control and the person working for you “feels” like you. Option 2, is the lazy alternative. However, this alternative could be the best option for you. Why?

Outsourcing to a professional: doesn’t require training an internal staff member, ensures an experienced professional, allows you to focus on your core business, while growing a brand presence and building a community.

When outsourcing, I recommend that you do the following:

  • Do your research on the individual or the firm. Many people purport to be “Social Media Guru’s”, there is no such thing. Social Media is a dynamic and ever-changing environment. No one can ever be a guru, but they can be experienced and show that they are keeping tabs with new trends. Find out what experience your potential outsourcer has, are they respected, have they grown communities, what is their focus?
  • Train, educate and ensure your brand is passed onto the outsourcer. The person handling your Social Media accounts is “representing” you and your brand, make sure they fit the part. Train them on your product, your attitudes, your personality and culture. If they aren’t interested in this, find someone else!
  • Watch over their efforts, and give them feedback once they get started. Give them some freedom and free stuff (to be given to your customers, of course) is always a good idea.

For a lot of businesses jumping in right now, I ask you to ensure one thing: Your brand must be a “living, breathing” person, have a personality, have an identity, have an attitude, have an opinion. This is your Digital Identity (D.I.D.)

My question, today, is quite specific, and I really want your opinion on it. It is best practice to ensure that your Twitter account is personal, and often a person identifies themselves as the Twitter person. An example tweet:

“It is really cool that Bill Gates is completely eradicating polio worldwide http://bit.ly/fLbATt What can you do to help? ^JS”

The ^JS indicates that Justin Scott, I, was the one who tweeted this. This helps followers feel a connection to the brand, to the person tweeting.

If you are outsourcing, however, this may differ.

Would you want your outsourcer to identify their identity? Would you want your fans to know that “Justin Scott” was tweeting for your brand? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments.

If you like what you see, hear, read about Justin, email him today. Justin can help you formulate your Digital Media Strategy and if necessary he can execute this for you too.

Stop and think, cultures differ

I have found myself, in the past, extremely critical of what people do in different countries and cultures. The one thing that always got me angry was that in some asian cultures they eat dogs, cats and horses. To me, this is obscene. But I never stopped to think about it, and consider that I may be wrong – or at least not seeing their perspective.

I am currently reading the book I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter – which so far seems to me a book about a philosophical view on language and “consciousness”. But it was in the course of reading Chapter Two, that Douglas talks about how circumstances and cultural difference create a society-wide habit or norm. The fact is that people in different regions act, talk and behave completely differently to other people in other regions. If you grow up in a society where it is normal to eat cats and dogs, then you will most likely fit yourself into that norm and do the same.

For example, we take for granted that we eat calves, piglets, chicks, lambs and many more. In India, a large cultural and religious aspect is that cows are a holy animal. They would find it disgusting and unimaginable for a person to eat a cow – which we do all the time. For Jews, the same could be said of pigs. For me it is cats and dogs.

Who are we to point fingers and criticise people for having different cultural norms than we do? Who am I to be angry at the asian community that eats dogs and cats?

So my question today is…

What cultural differences have you been critical of in the past? Has today’s post changed your perspective? I look forward to continuing this discussion in the comments below.

Overcoming Parental Direction

Today, I feel like I need to hear your stories and find out how different my upbringing has been. How influential have your parents been in your life and career decisions? Do you feel that it was right for you?

But here is my story to start us off…

From an early age and throughout my life I have consistently been involved with family-businesses and the conversations that go with them. My father is a Chartered Accountant and my mum is now growing her 3rd business. So I suppose you could say I have my roots grounded in business – and honestly I love it.

For many years and continuing today, my parents have pro-actively and passively guided me towards Accounting as a career – my main motivation for following this guidance for so long has been the financial prosperity associated with being an accountant. I have often questioned this career path, and often had arguments on the topic, but for all too long I have submitted to my parents influence because “they know better than me”. Right?

On the contrary, I have found that my parents are not (completely) correct in their guidance. Admittedly, how could they know exactly what is right for me? So, I find to reasonable that they suggest I follow a particular path. But, I have continually come back saying that accounting is not challenging, not fulfilling and not exciting – much to their dismay.

In 2010, I put my foot down and stopped following their direction and the path towards accounting; instead opting for an exciting and varied career, starting my own business and working with an amazing friend, Sam Dalton. I have never felt so thrilled, alive and content with my life – I meet the most amazing people, form excellent friendships, learn about the things that interest me and do what I feel fits right with me. This is what I was destined to do.

But, all this draws me to some curious questions about myself and others.

Has your childhood been similar? Have you been given guided/strict direction by your parents? Do you think this is/was right for you? Did you stand up and make your own decision? Was it early enough? What’s your story? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments below.