Can NFL Head Coaches Teach You Anything About Leadership? (Psst..Of Course They Can)


The new NFL season has only just got underway. But we’ve already seen that the head coaches have a monumental role to play in leading their respective teams to success. As a business owner, your impact on the staff isn’t too dissimilar. So it’s no surprise to hear that you can learn a thing or two from those leaders at the top of their sport.

An NFL coach’s daily activities may be a complete contrast to what you’re used to. Then again, the methods and basic principles are linked. Use these nuggets of wisdom gained from the sport, and your business will soon be driving towards the end zone.

What are you waiting for? Let’s kick things off in style.


Tactics are everything in American football. However, it’s the coach who is responsible for masterminding the victory. You are responsible for ensuring that your company conducts its business in a more effective manner than its competitors.

Playing to the strengths of the company and the employees is vital. If you are truly focused on building a winning team, you must get the recruitment process right. It’s not simply a case of hiring people with the best skills. You need to find the right additions for your business, which means screening personalities too.

In the NFL, teams have one set of players for offense and defense. The lesson to learn here is that different groups need contrasting instructions. As long as those methods are focused towards the overall success of the company, you won’t go far wrong.


Finding those winning formulas is one thing. But getting the team to carry out those instructions is another altogether. The only way you’ll ever achieve this goal, on the football field or in the office, is to establish a strong sense of communication.

Technology can be used to your advantage. Using visual aids can enhance a presentation while video conferencing can help manage other areas of the business. Either way, one thing we can learn from the NFL is the importance of being concise. Coaches have seconds to express their ideas. If you can learn to keep team meetings short and to the point, you’ll have a far greater chance of success.

Let’s face it; time is money. Every second counts, just as it does in sport, and you should not lose sight of this fact.


Like an NFL coach, you are relying on your team to perform. Therefore, it’s your job to do everything in your power to keep them in the right mindset to thrive. Ultimately, that means ensuring that the working environment is as positive as it can possibly be.

Prevention is the best form of protection. But you should still be prepared for those bad situations by investing in first aid supplies and other key items. It’s equally imperative to ensure that the data protection facilities are of the highest standard. In truth, this isn’t only key for your employees – it’s key for customers too.

An NFL coach is tasked with keeping his players fit and healthy. As an entrepreneur, your job is to keep the staff motivated and happy. Use team bonding sessions to further enhance those positive vibes, and you will build a more cohesive unit. And with the team firing on all cylinders, there’s no limit to what you’ll achieve.

The Most Common Reasons For Startups Falling at the First Hurdle

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The romantic in all of us would love to quit our day jobs and make a go of it on our own. The idea of being your own boss and finding success is what many of us dream of. Hell, it’s the very reason this blog was founded. And this is becoming a reality for more and more young entrepreneurs, but reality has a way of never quite panning out how you’d expect, doesn’t it?

As you can probably tell, I am a willing advocate for startups and small businesses. The pursuit of your dreams is perhaps the most beautiful thing in the world, and I like to do what I can to encourage and educate that. The unfortunate truth, however, is that many startups fall at the first hurdle, and they are usually their own undoing.

Here are some of the more common reasons that small businesses fail to get off the ground, and what you can do to avoid compounding the same mistakes.

Being Narrow Minded

Nobody has ever gotten anywhere in business without some degree of ego. It takes an immense overconfidence in your abilities just to take the plunge, let alone make it work. That same arrogance, however, can lead to poor business decisions. When you’re in the boss’ shoes, you might think that you know best, but that’s not always the case.

Stick to what you know. If you’ve gotten far in your venture, that’s probably an understanding of business models. Everything else? Don’t be afraid to seek advice elsewhere. The best owners accept their own limitations and supplement them with expert knowledge from other fields.

Lack of Foresight

Many business owners suffer from this same problem, and it’s especially common amongst startups. Why? Because you’re so fixated on the here and now, you can lose sight of the bigger picture. If you find that all your decisions are being made for the short-term, you’re doing it wrong. You should always have an eye on your future. Otherwise, you won’t have a future.

Fail to prepare and prepare to fail, as the old saying goes. Budget constraints often suffer most as a result of shortsightedness. Consider enlisting the help of a financial advisor to guide you through the short-term. They’re well adept at also considering the long-term. Or, if you have an interest in online cloud accountants, Accountancy Anywhere are a service that can offer you expert advice.

Startup Stock Photos

Startup Stock Photos


Bad Intentions

Trust me, I’ve come across many business owners in my time, and a few of them have had their hearts in the wrong place. Those types have been fixated on money, with no regard for the customer or product. They don’t care how, they just want to make money, and to hell with everyone else. I’ve also found that those same people are the ones that ultimately crash and burn. I guess you really do reap what you sow.

Above all, have a belief in your product. If it isn’t the very best it can be, why are you even bothering to sell it? If it’s not something you love and take pride in, shelve it. You’ll only get yourself a bad reputation.

4 Tips for Empowering Your Team


Your team is your greatest asset — are you helping them help you?

In the initial stages of any business, there is a chance that you will see very rapid growth in the number of employees that you have. While this can be an exciting time, it can also be very stressful and frightening. Team members might come directly to you for advice and guidance because you have the overall vision about what needs to be done.

Your first instinct might be to keep them at arm’s length, but it is your job to inspire and manage the team. Here are some ways that you can help empower your employees and give them the tools necessary to become the successful individuals that you want them to be. Don’t tell them to get off your back — urge them to join you!

  1. Respect the individual. Each person on your team has their own set of skills and experiences. And if you are a young or first-time entrepreneur, chances are pretty good that you’re going to be guiding people who are older than you. Don’t see this as a challenge, but an opportunity to use their experience and knowledge to your advantage. Hear what they have to say and think about what you can implement in order to move the business forward. Of course, this goes for everyone on your team — not just the veterans. Remember that each person has traits that you wanted, even if they don’t excel in other areas.
  2. Be open to new ideas. Keep an open door policy within the company. Some of the best ideas come from unseen sources, and it’s important that you don’t miss them. Let your team know that you are always open to new ideas and that they shouldn’t be afraid to suggest things. These folks are on the front line. They know more about the inner workings of the system than you realize. 
  3. Set the example. It is up to you to motivate your employees and show them what you expect of them. Show them how you want to maintain standards and what needs to be accomplished. If you simply bark orders, you’re not contributing to anyone’s success. If your team sees that you aren’t above the protocol, they are more likely to follow it with you. If you adopt the best practice early on, your team will be able to maintain a higher standard for customers and each other.
  4. Empower your team. Lastly, never forget how important it is to empower your employees. They need to be able to handle some situations without asking you for help. Customers may be waiting for a response, and if they wait for your response each time something comes up, it only slows down the process. Give them the training and knowledge that they need to succeed at what they set out to accomplish. You can do this a number of different ways, but remember that meetings and training sessions can eat up a lot of time and resources. Systems, like a digital guidance system, can be an excellent asset during growth spurts.

By following these four steps, you’ll enable your team to solve issues as they encounter them — so you can focus on more growth in the future.

 Dan Adika is CEO and Co-Founder at WalkMe, an online guidance and engagement platform. WalkMe provides a cloud-based service designed to help professionals – customer support managers, user experience managers, training professionals, SaaS providers and sales managers – to guide and engage prospects, customers, employees and partners through any online …4


Dealing With Ego: Why I Love/Hate Consulting


“I need a solution to X problem, you’re an expert, can you help me”?

That is the foundational reason a consultant is hired.

It drives me nuts when you go out and find an answer to a problem, only to be met with objection because it doesn’t fit the status quo or doesn’t validate their point of view. On the flip side, if what you recommend is embraced, implemented and helps your client go to the next level, it is extremely gratifying and worth dealing with clients who embrace change only in theory.

So how do you deal with this reality?

I’d like to share one of my experiences, how I dealt with it, the risk/reward outcome, and ask those who read this to share their tips and tricks with the rest of us!

Business Ethics When Dealing With Massive Ego

A few years ago I was hired to help flush out business model, functionality requirements and customer acquisition strategy for a new tech company. This venture was a spin off from an existing company that wanted to build a SaaS solution for their clients.

While we agreed on target demographics, general business model etc, important things like what does this software do and how do we get customers were completely opposite.

I spent quite a bit of time talking with potential customers, and asking what they would love to have automated and/or streamlined. In those conversations, I bluntly asked how they would react if approached in different ways from a marketing and sales perspective. Trends were identified, similar functionality requests were made over and over, which quite frankly made this pretty straight forward. 150 potential clients all wanted XYZ, and said what would make them pay attention to it.

So I put together a plan. Top to bottom, here’s what needs to be done. Development, marketing, pricing models etc.

Enter Ego Conundrum

To my surprise and irritation, without even reading what I spent 4 months working on, the person who hired me pulls out his own plan, and proceeded to tell me while he appreciated the time spent, they had decided to move forward in a different direction!

Politely I said “totally understand, would you mind letting me take a look at yours.”

Looking through this alternative, it was blatantly obvious zero research had been done. It was so completely one-sided it would make your head spin, included things every potential customer I had talked to didn’t want, and marketing strategies so antiquated I was stunned.

Very quickly I remembered meetings where everything in this plan had been brought up, and everyone else at the table other than me had been saying yes, yes, sounds great. In reality I had been hired to validate these ideas not actually help develop a plan.

Enter Business Ethics Dilemma

Now I faced a serious problem. Based on the research, if they went down this path a lot of capital would be wasted.

I’d been hired to help them determine the best course of action, but to tell the “boss” he was wrong would require a massive slap to his ego, and likely burn a bridge. But if they followed his plan, 6-12 months later so much money would be wasted the bridge would be burned for not having said it was a bad plan.

I decided to diplomatically relay a few things potential customers had requested in the hope he would be open to listening. Immediately was told he knew the market better than me, and that customers don’t know what they want.

Next, I tried to explain a few thoughts on more efficiently marketing the service, and the value proposition points potential clients had told me. This too was instantly rejected.

It was now clear trying to change his mind was pointless. I now had to make a hard choice, burn bridge now or later.

My Decision And Its Repercussion

I decided that it was better to be upfront, and let the chips fall where they may. A rather strong, but polite case was made, and my prediction of what would happen if his plan was followed.

I stated strongly this wasn’t being against making changes to my plan, but that I truly wanted to do the best for my client, whether they agreed with me or not.

As expected, this was not well received, and I was not so politely asked to leave.

Fast forward a couple years, after zero communication – and hearing from others what he thought of me – out of the blue my phone rang and it was that old client.

After wasting $500k, having absolute rejection by clients, significant internal problems with employees, and even conflict with business partners, he realized that I had really been trying to help him make the right decision. He told me that I had serious “balls” to have stood up to him that way, and apologized for bad mouthing me to others.

We haven’t done business again, but to this day I still get phone calls from people who he’s recommended me to, and hear he says I shoot straight with the clients best interest at heart.

So while I have a love/hate relationship with consulting, it never ceases to amazing me the outcomes you can’t predict. All I can say is it’s always best to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment.

This is just one of many crazy things that have happened to me. I’d love to hear your experiences, similar situations and how you’ve handled them!

How Children Inspire Greatness


We all desire to be successful, famous, and–let’s be real–have lots of money.

But what is the true source of that desire?

I want to be someone my 4-year-old daughter can look up to, have the ability to give her a great childhood, and when she grows up, the resources to help her have a better life than me.

Last week, I talked about redefining success and what it truly means to you. The goal of this one is to spark thought in how being a parent can be the foundation of achieving your own personal definition of what success means.

Children Inspire Entrepreneurship

My last company was started literally 3 weeks after finding out I was having a child. From that moment on, my goal has been to build a company, make enough money to have time, and ultimately have a fantastic team handling day to day operations.

Whether that means hundreds of thousands, millions, or billions, is not the point. It’s having enough money and resources to create a powerful bond with my daughter, see all those “firsts”, have freedom of time, and be a powerful father figure to her in any way that I can.

Long nights, hard days, incredible amounts of stress, lack of sleep. These are all prices to be paid to accomplish these goals. 19 months ago my price went even higher, after nearly dying from a massive brain hemorrhage.

As most of what I had worked for collapsed around me, before even getting full clearance from the doctors, my mind was in 6th gear on how to get back on track, get back out there and do it again. Not because of ego, but taking care of my child, making sure there was enough money to give her a good education, and in the long run, be around to see all those “firsts.”

Could I give up on being an entrepreneur? Yes. I have a standing 6 figure job offer from an old client of mine. But in the end, nothing is being built to achieve the goal of time, and I would always be tied to the “job.”

I joke about nearly working myself to death, which in my case is actual reality, but when your sense of immortality is ripped away, you have 2 choices. Be afraid to take risk, or become inspired to push harder than ever.

I choose the latter. Everyday when I wake up, the entrepreneurial fire burns within my soul to go out and make a difference. For her.

Children Inspire Leadership

Leadership requires accepting there are those who follow and trust you to make good decisions. Then making every effort to make those decisions not just for yourself, but for the good of those who follow you.

As a father, I have no greater follower than my daughter. Obviously that will fade when she becomes an adult, but between now and then, when she looks at me and asks questions, eyes full of wonder and trust, the desire to be someone she can rely on both now, and when she is grown inspires me to be great.

That same attitude is something I apply to business. Not that those who follow me can’t think for themselves, but they have placed trust in my ability to lead. They are taking a risk to join forces, to leverage their talents and futures on accomplishing the vision, and ultimately choosing me over someone else.

My daughter didn’t choose me, but in business, you always have a choice. Customer, employee, partners, investors. Who you are and what you set out to do is what inspires others follow.

Inspire Children To Make A Difference

The title of this article was about becoming “great,” but what is greatness? To me, making a difference in the lives of those around you, whether it be one person or millions, is the true essence of greatness.

As parents, we have all the inspiration needed to become great. Through hard work, innovation and entrepreneurship we have the opportunity to achieve it.

I see success in business as a powerful way to inspire my daughter to become great. If in the most important development years of her life she sees a man willing fight through hard times, be a leader, try to make a difference in the lives of those around him, then she has someone worth following.

If at the end of my life the only person I truly made a difference for is my daughter, then that’s OK with me. That is my definition of greatness. What is yours?

The Startup Cult is Redefining Success (And Not in a Good Way)

startup cult

I often joke about the “startup cult” spreading across the world.

The coolness of entrepreneurship is on the rise, but so much of it is compartmentalized into just raising capital, getting some PR and having “founder” as your job title. Not he true nature of being a business owner, leader, and innovative thinker that is required to be truly successful.

While there are amazing organizations all over the world helping startups, sometimes is seems like many of them exist to salve egos, take advantage of wantrapreneurs, and look good on paper from an economic development perspective.

Accelerators and incubators are popping up everywhere, but with so many of the hardships of launching a company accounted for – seed capital, office space, mentors, business networks etc – why is the success rate of these companies not significantly higher than those bootstrapping? What truly is success?

Enter Startup Cult

The vast majority of businesses will never exceed $1 million in yearly revenue, and most currently operating were started with $5,000 or less.

The startup cult I’m talking about encourages and teaches entrepreneurs to raise capital and chase the billion dollar unicorn, but much less attention is spent on how to actually operate a business. Few people want to learn about how to deal with cash flow issues, employee politics, horrible clients, partnership conflict and so on.

Looking back at a decade of serial entrepreneurship, the hardships, rewards and disappointments, it disturbs me to see so many founders obsessed with, and feeling euphoric when, they raise capital. Not getting clients, not achieving growth goals or even making a profit, but getting investors to write them a check.

While a select few will become founders of legend, most will fail and some will become successful on a smaller scale.

What Is Success?

Don’t for a second think I’m saying you don’t have a billion dollar idea, or not to chase the dream. What I’m saying is there are tons of great small business ideas, and just because you “only” turn it into a million dollar company doesn’t mean you failed.

In reality the average household in America makes $54,000 a year with two incomes. Make $100,000 and you’re in the top 10%.

While in the short term it might not be as cool as chasing a billion dollar idea, in reality you have much greater probability of building a $1, 2, 3 million dollar company in a fraction of the time needed to raise capital, get to market, grow, and maybe have an IPO. Is the potential ROI massive, of course it is, but is it smarter to go for the single or double versus a home run?

This goes back to what truly is success? Is it making enough money you’re not worried about paying bills, having freedom to make your own schedule, spend time with family and friends, watch your children grow up, see the world, make a difference?

Or is it being one of the few with more money than you know what to do with, and going down as the Steve Jobs of your era?

What Does Success Mean To You?

It may seem like I’m saying you shouldn’t apply to an accelerator, that entrepreneur centers are a waste of time, not to raise capital or swing for the fences. Nothing could be further from the truth. The point of this article is to inspire entrepreneurs to look at life from a different perspective, and define what success means to them.

This is something you need to think about and let it become a serious foundation of your life. There are many ways to make a difference and to become successful.

Happiness and satisfaction with life is controlled by your own personal definition of success. What is yours?

3 Things That Don’t Matter for A Successful Mentor Relationship

Dinner In Outdoor Restaurant

Twice a year, a 70-year-old Italian immigrant-turned-millionaire CEO walks into Cortese’s restaurant in Binghamton with his 20-something Haitian mentee and orders the same exact dinner: baked salmon, pork chops, Caesar salad with Italian crumbly and a side of gnocchi. While this scene sounds straight out of the movie “Finding Forrester,” it’s just a typical dinner with my long-standing mentor, Angelo Mastrangelo.

Those dinners, and our fruitful mentorship (he helped me to sell an Internet startup after college and become the East Coast Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007), led me to delve deep into the importance of race, age and gender in mentorships. Namely, should these qualities matter at all? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

Here are three reasons I believe you should look beyond race and gender in your mentor/mentee relationship.

Avoid Blind Spots

Let’s be honest: when looking for a mentor, it’s hard to overlook our tendency to orbit toward people who look like us in regards to race, age and gender.

Is this a bad thing? “It depends,” says Ellen Ensher, Ph.D. Ensher is professor of management at Loyola Marymount University and co-author of Power Mentoring: How Mentors and Protégés Get the Most Out of Their Relationships. “While there are clear benefits to having someone in your corner who empathizes with you, there are some risks.” 

When you only seek mentorship from entrepreneurs who share your world view, you run the risk of developing blind spots for how the outside world views you.

Take Zoe Damacela, 22. A Northwestern University senior and fashion entrepreneur who was part of President Obama’s “Startup America” Initiative,  she made clear that being a daughter of a single mom makes her more comfortable with women as mentors. But, she adds, “I try to push myself beyond my comfort zone and get a male perspective, especially in fashion, where perception is everything.”

Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of ContextMedia, put it this way: ”Women mentors are really great at helping build confidence, teaching communication skills, and training on other hard skills that are needed to succeed. Male mentors add perspective and allow us to learn how we are being perceived — whether it is body language, dressing, or tone of voice. I think both sets of mentors together — male and female — build a strong and comprehensive team.”

‘Perceived Similarity’ Leads to Deeper Bonds

The Los Angeles race riots of 1992 led to a big push to study mentoring amongst disadvantaged youth in that city. Professor Ellen Ensher led the charge to uncover a question that had dogged researchers for years: Did race even matter in mentoring?

Her research yielded an interesting finding: the idea of perceived similarity. In the past, many people believed mentors connected to mentees based on “surface similarity” — i.e., psychological and social forces like race, class, gender and age. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

But recent studies show that perceived similarities, such as shared values, attitudes and goals, actually form deeper bonds in the long run.

“Age, race, and gender is of course still the elephant in the room,” explains Professor Ensher, “but I push my clients to get to know their mentor as quickly as possible and build on those common bonds.”

Those are the relationships that tend to endure. And that’s why I meet with Angelo every few months at Cortese’s. We may not look similar, but we are both immigrants and former athletes who value ethics, hustle, and Italian crumbly cheese.

Plus, it may be necessary to look past race in mentoring relationships for minorities, especially in industries that are predominantly white and male. Compared to their peers, talented professionals of color don’t get fast-tracked until much later in their career. But many of those who do reach the executive suite find a key mentor within the first three years, according to a study by Harvard’s David Thomas, the nation’s leading researcher on race and mentoring.

An African-American corporate acquisitions lawyer I spoke to (who wished to remain unnamed) confessed, “There were only a few black partners at the firm but older Africans Americans never mentored me. They saw me as a threat to the position they worked so hard to attain and resented me for rising so quickly. In fact, most of my mentors have been Jewish. We connected on the ‘underdog’ mentality, and they have all been supportive and offered guidance through office politics and the ebbs and flows of a volatile industry.”

Age Doesn’t Matter, But Life Stage Does

In today’s hyper-connected and tech savvy world, a good mentor can be older or younger than you. More important is their stage in life.

Are they a retired industry vet looking to give back? Busy starting a new family or business? Would they be at a stage to view you as competition? These are all things to consider. Importantly, life stage does not always match age. A report on the post-recession generation found nearly half of the 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed said they’ve put off purchasing a home; 29 percent say they’ve delayed starting a family; and 26 percent still live with their parents.

By that logic, an older mentor may be beneficial, especially to a young entrepreneur. They probably have experience you don’t. Just be realistic about how much time to expect from them based on where they are in their career.

In the end, you must find a mentor who is a good fit for you — not just on the surface, but in terms of what benefits they can provide. Who knows? Maybe soon you’ll be on your way to Cortese’s for dinner with your brand-new mentor, too.


Bert Gervais, a.k.a. “The Mentor Guy”, is the founder of Success Mentor Education. He is a national best selling author, speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. You can follow him @BertGervais.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

16 Kick Ass Quotes On Leadership From People Who Walk the Talk


So often we become consumed with telling people what to do that we forget the true essence of leadership. Take a few minutes and learn from those who came before.

As a follower, you must know who to follow. As a leader, you must earn your followers!

Bill Gates

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

George Patton

Lead me follow me or get the hell out of my way!

Sun Tzu

A leader leads by example, not by force.

Napoleon Bonaparte

A leader is a dealer in hope.

John C. Maxwell

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.

Anthony J. D’Angelo

You don’t have to hold a position in order to be a leader.

Gene Mauch

You can’t lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself.

Peter Drucker

Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes…but no plans.

Theodore M. Hesburgh

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. you can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.

Davy Crockett

Be sure you’re right…then go ahead!

Henry Miller

The real leader has no need to lead, he is content to point the way.

Eric Hoffer

The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.

Harvey S. Firestone

The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.

Ronald Reagan

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.

Theodore Roosevelt

People ask the difference between a leader and a boss…The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.

Dennis A. Peer

One measure of leadership is the caliber of people who choose to follow you.

Andrew Carnegie

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.

Short sweet and to the point. Everyday, take the time to learn from those who came before you on how to become a better leader. Leaders are forged, not born.

Share how these quotes impact you and others that you find inspirational!

Oh Snap! I’m a Leader Now!


How many of you have experienced an epiphany where you realized people were following you and trusted your judgement?

I’ve had several of those in my career, and each one has forced me to analyse what I’m doing and become a better man. While these moments cause you to accept responsibility and the weight of leadership, they also provide opportunities to take things to another level and surprise yourself.

So let’s dive into a few moments where leadership can be realized, and the choices you face.

I Want To Live Up To Your Expectations, And Be Who You Want Me To Be.

That was said to me after a former employee asked me to write his biography for a new job. I had hired him out of college, and watched him grow from being a hot headed, high maintenance employee to a rock star designer in high demand.

What I said in his biography was everything I had seen him become, and what he had told me were his ultimate goals in life. This made me realize that he viewed me as a leader, respected my opinion, but what meant the most to me was his desire to live up to expectations.

Over the years I have tried to help mold him professionally into someone who could communicate with clients, deal with the stress of managing a team, and to know when to take a stand, but more importantly how to be a good businessman.

The challenge I now face is being worthy of his respect. Not to boost my ego, but to not let him down. Leadership is a two-way street.

I Used To Hate You. Now I Understand You.

A few months ago I got a phone call out of the blue from another former employee who has started his own company. He’s now having to hire and fire, deal with difficult clients and cash flow issues.

He had left my company in a huff feeling like he wasn’t being valued, in spite of being told the reasons we couldn’t pay him more at the time. We were in a bit of a cash flow crunch, and just couldn’t afford to raise his salary.

Our conversation quickly turned to him asking questions about how I had dealt with the stress of building a company. How to deal with employee issues, and how to approach difficult clients.

It was in that moment I realized that in spite of the rough ending to our business relationship years prior, how I had conducted myself then had stuck with him. To him, I was a leader he could trust to give solid advice. Since then, we’ve had more conversations about how the advice given had been implemented, different spins he’s applied that have worked and what didn’t work.

The choice I’m faced with is always doing the right thing, even if it’s not popular in the moment. As a leader you can’t be swayed by emotion when making tough choices.

I Want To Work FOR You! Don’t Do This Without Me!

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation about a business idea with a man I have a great deal of respect for. He has been very successful, currently runs a multi-million dollar company, and has influence superior to my own.

He was so inspired by the passion and logic behind the idea, with great vigor he said he would walk away from what he’s doing now, and would work for me if I asked. Very quickly I made it clear that my goal was to work withhim, not him work for me.

The moment of realization I had was that age and prior success are not what makes you a leader, but the ability to inspire others, not only through intellect but also passion. I have always been a passionate firecracker in life and business, but so often forgotten the impact it influences those around me.

As a leader, I must always maintain passion for what I’m doing, or it is only reasonable for those following to have doubt. When your fire begins to wane, search for reasons to keep going and fan the flames!

If You Do Not Know Where You Are Going, Every Road Will Get You Nowhere – Henry Kissinger

As a leader, you are out front building the road those behind you will travel. You will never be able to predict every challenge you will face, but you must know what your goal is and stick to it.

Those you have inspired to travel the hard road with you will help you to make it through hard times, pick you up when you fall, and someday a few will begin to build their own road.

It is up to you to accept the responsibility of being a leader, for you never know when the road they build can join with yours. In times of need they can becomeyour inspiration, and help take you up to the mountain peak!

Be a leader who inspires trust and loyalty, or be greedy and have nothing but mercenaries. The choice is yours.

But always remember that followers choose their leader!

What My Kids Can Teach You About Business Perspective


I was running around the other morning trying to get my two boys (ages 2 and 5) ready for school and Carter, my 2-year old, was flipping out about nothing being able to “see” the video he and Will, my 5-year old, were watching on the iPad. I moved the iPad closer and went back to unwrapping cereal bars. He kept flipping out. I got frustrated and snapped at him. He got more upset. This was going nowhere.

So I stopped and thought about it. I walked over to his chair and ducked down so my head was right next to his and I looked at the iPad. There it was — a terrible glare from the sun beam streaming in from our back window — right across the iPad screen. When I looked at it I couldn’t see the video at all. *Head slap* I moved his chair five inches to the left and he calmed down.

Isn’t so much of leadership and teamwork just like this?

It took me all of 20 seconds to calm down, reorient myself to his perspective, see and acknowledge that he was right, and fix the problem. From his perspective he physically could not see the screen, and that’s exactly what he told me. When I didn’t try to understand from his perspective he got upset. When I took the time to not just listen, but to experience the world from his perspective, it all made sense and we were back in sync.

True effectiveness requires the leader to stand in the shoes of the team.

This morning when we walked out to get in the car for school I saw a huge spider web covered with water droplets that I wanted to show the boys. I pointed it out and Will couldn’t see it. I lowered my head to his level and looked and sure enough the spider web was lost to my view against the light of the sky. I lifted him up two steps and he saw it against the darker background of the trees in our neighbor’s yard. We all enjoyed the view and went on our way, having an instructive discussion about how spiders might be scary, but they eat the “bad bugs.” I would have missed all of that if not for taking his perspective and learning from it.

Leadership Ability Starts In Childhood


“Standing on the shoulders of giants” is one of my favorite quotes of all time.

While it was originally referencing scientific advancement, it also applies to personal success being impacted by the examples of those around us as children.

It concerns me greatly that so much attention to our children is being turned over to people other than the parents. We have become so consumed with material things as a society we are neglecting the future…Our children.

Where Is Our Time Going?

Does it not bother you that the average parent spends less than 8 hours per week with their children?

Does it not bother you that the average adult somehow finds time to watch 2.8 hours of TVeach week?

As a society have we become so enthralled by the here and now that we refuse to prepare for the future! Without examples they can respect, learn from and ultimately surpass in adulthood, how can we possible expect to make a better life for our children possible?

The Need Of Leadership Examples

Whether we want to accept it or not, our children learn from what they experience. If we are not around, then they are searching for someone to emulate. It’s just a hard truth.

Unfortunately the examples being projected by our media proclaim that everything will be handed to you. That you have nothing to fear and that everyone is a winner. I don’t know about you but I have won many times, but have also had many hard defeats.

Those moments of defeat are what forced me to become stronger, learn to adapt and prepare to face the unknown. How can we as parents not remember this reality and help our children become ready for the days when we are no longer there to defend them?

We Must Prepare

From a purely selfish perspective, when we are old, we will rely on our children to take care of us. Providing examples for our children should be endeavored just for self-preservation.

This however demands that overcome our obsessions with short term gratification and actually think about what we want to help our children become. We can either be the strong shoulders our children can stand upon, or be Atlas, so weighed down by debt, stress and impatience we are never able to be the leaders our children can emulate and ultimately, surpass.

I challenge us all, on both a personal and professional level, to make the right decisions and be the next “great generation” providing the ladder to a new era of enlightenment and success.

What do you think? Comments below on how you think we can overcome these challenges would be greatly appreciated!

Stop Wasting Time on Decisions


Stop wasting so much time on decisions.

I know this immediately seems like I’m telling you to fly by the seat of your pants and put no planning into your decisions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As an innovator, business leader, entrepreneur, parent or friend. The truth is you have to make quick decisions, and ultimately the responsibility falls on your shoulders.

The goal of this article is to pose a simple question. Do we waste time and therefore opportunity by over-analyzing possibilities, and not just pulling the trigger?

For those of you who read my article Business Innovation Requires Patience this again may seem like a counter-intuitive statement, but hang on, there is logic behind it.

So Many Decisions. So Little Time

Just think about the number of decisions you make everyday. Not big decisions. The number you have to make each day. Where to get coffee. Where to eat. What clothes to wear. What to do after work. The list goes on and on.

Now think about how many of those decisions you make in the blink of an eye.

99% of decisions are made with very little conscious thought. We react instinctively based on our past experiences. If every decision made was thought out, we would never get anything done.

As a decision maker in business, because of the responsibilities and ramifications of the choices we make, often we find ourselves over-thinking and wasting both time and opportunities. This could be a hiring decision, closing a deal, making a pivot in the business model.

Stop Over-thinking

So often, in the same blink of an eye as choosing where to get coffee, you know what the right choice is, but spend hours, days or even weeks trying to find reasons your gut instinct is wrong.

As a society, we are conditioned to search for all the reasons we are WRONG first, not why it’s the RIGHT option. By default, we immediately lengthen the time needed to make a decision, because everything being researched, discussed and/or keeping you up at night is negative. If everything you’re contemplating is a negative, it’s only natural to doubt your judgement.

I say look for the positives first. Very often, the supporting evidence to it being the right decision become readily apparent. If this is the case, then pull the trigger and go for it. Don’t waste time and energy, and more importantly, don’t miss opportunities.

Justification Of Quick Decisions

As experts in our relative fields, we know the right answer very quickly as our subconscious is analyzing and predicting outcome much more rapidly than our conscious mind. Our body even gives us physical instructions that we refer to as “gut feelings”.

When you learn to “go with your gut” rather than ignore it, you will be amazed at how much stress will fall away and the speed of which you can make correct decisions.

Studies going on for almost a century have consistently shown that our “gut reaction” is generally correct 90% of the time. Since these reactions are happening literally in the blink of an eye, the time spent looking for reasons you’re wrong becomes harder to justify. This is NOT to say you should never ask second opinions. For major decisions always look for additional validations to your initial thoughts.


Personal Defense Of Rapid Decision Making

The logic outlined has been the way I have operated my entire life. For years, I often questioned myself because so many people viewed my actions a “flying by the seat of my pants” and not thinking things through. More than a few times it was viewed as arrogance.

However, as time and again my gut instinct turned out to be the correct path, I made the conscious decision to let the chips fall where they may. This has led to being able to grow successful companies, make great hiring decisions, connect with amazing mentors and overcome adversity.

As the demand for quick pivots, instant gratification, and evolving limits of time continues to expand, my closing argument is this:

Nobody is perfect and there will always be times we make the wrong decision. The faster we know whether it was the right or wrong choice, the quicker we can either enjoy the rewards or recover from the mistake.

Learn More About The Science

Many of you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking where he dives into the concept of “thin-slicing” and using our adaptive unconscious; mental processes that work rapidly and automatically from relatively little information, to make the correct decision very rapidly.

For anyone who hasn’t, I strongly recommend you take the time to read it. For those of you who already use this process but don’t understand the scientific justification, it will be extremely encouraging. For others, it will radically change your life.

The Truth About Startup Failure

man being punched

The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.

–Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things

In the Silicon Valley-inspired startup culture, we glamourize failure. We wear our failures like badges of honor, write post-mortems with all the gory details, and duck our heads in mock humility when discussing them in person.

“Shoot for the stars,” we say.

“Fail fast,” we say.

Unfortunately, the message that is often missed in this go big or go home mentality is that failure really sucks.

Failing Looks Like…

Failure is not glamourous. It’s not even pretty.

Failure looks like losing 30 pounds in 3 months because the stress is so much you can’t eat.

Failure looks like not closing that funding round 6 months after you graduate from the accelerator, despite following every step they outlined.

Failure looks like going 6 months, a year, 2 years without a paycheck and seeing your bank account so drained you need to get a “job.” Except the only thing on your resume is a failed business, so…

Failure looks like pulling together the best team you could, selling them on your vision, and then not making payroll.

Failure looks like looking friends and family in the eye and telling them you–you, personally–lost every dime of the money they invested.

Failure looks like no longer speaking to the person you once trusted enough to call a business partner.

Failure looks like wrapping yourself so much into your business that it becomes your identity. And when it fails, you don’t know who are anymore.

Failure sucks. There’s no easy way around that.

Success is falling nine times and getting up ten.

–Jon Bon Jovi

One More Round

You know what else failure looks like?

It looks like getting up and going one more round.

Because even though I just told you (and myself, again) what failure looks like, if you’re an entrepreneur you don’t really care. You (like me) are thinking, “Yeah, yeah, but this time I won’t fail.”

Personally, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is like life on steroids. Life is hard, with ups and downs and lots of chances to make mistakes. Entrepreneurship is the same, at a speed and intensity that will take your breath away.

Entrepreneurs will do well to be honest with themselves about the harsh reality and extreme pain of failure. We can’t glamourize or make it seem like anything but the soul crushing defeat it is.

But, you know you’re a born entrepreneur when you can’t help but go for it anyway.


Serial Entrepreneurs: Short Term Failure Doesn’t Matter in the Context of Forever

cropped image of a stopwatch on white

Since 1996 I’ve been a contributor to several teen leadership development organizations, my favorite of which are the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA). I’ve designed and run RYLA programs for more than 2,000 teens in New Jersey and Tennessee.

I credit most of my early managerial skills to these programs. I had to figure out how to build and scale real teams, none of whom got paid a dime, and all of whom were rabidly passionate about what we were doing, namely, changing the lives of teens who came from some of the richest and poorest zip codes in the country (together in the same room).

Credit: RYLA Maui. What’s cool about this, and really any other RYLA photo is it could be from any of our programs across the world. All of the pictures are the same awesomeness.

Having been immersed in experiential learning programs for some 17 years now, there’s one major lesson I’ve gathered. It happens to be an important lesson for serial entrepreneurs as well.

As soon as you decide your timeline is forever then there’s really no way you can screw up that badly.

At RYLA that meant the other organizers and I looking at each other and committing to be in it indefinitely. As soon as we decided we were going to do these programs for the rest of our lives then making incremental changes each year, even if they seemed major, allowed us to test and review, debrief and change again.

Over time we iterated the program and it got better. Sometimes we came full circle. We got excellent by testing out things that might be not excellent. Some of them were amazing. Some of them were abject disasters. Looking back it had lean startup all over it, except the distance between iterations was a year.

The key was always asking, “How can we do it better?” We even had t-shirts printed with this acronym: HCWDIB?

Imagine then the amazing position of a serial entrepreneur who right now commits to lean startup principles AND at the same time commits to being an entrepreneur forever. If no startup is your first, middle or final AND you iterate quickly using all the amazing technology tools available today, how can you possibly go wrong? You will make it. To do so you will have to keep these points in mind:

  • Don’t bet too much on any one iteration.
  • Take a break when you need it (maybe make some consulting money or *gasp* get a job).
  • Take care of yourself. Work out, eat right, do walking meetings.
  • Nurture your network above all else. It’s the only thing you take with you between iterations.
  • Learn, learn, learn. Read, read, read.
  • Keep notes about each effort and laugh at how crappy you were last year.
That’s what’s worked for me through several disgusting failures and several more break-even hobby-like projects. I have not “exited” nor have I “made it.” I don’t care because I’m in it forever and I will at some point.