Success Quote of the Week 044

“Important people have the ability to turn off their phones because the world can wait for them.” — Jason Calacanis

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Richard Branson: Business Stripped Bare Notes & Quotes

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Notes/Quotes:
Richard Branson is someone who has always fascinated me. I love his story. I love what he’s done, how he’s done it and how he continues to do it. Following are some of the notes I took while reading one of his books, Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur.
There’s a lot of great stuff in this book. Highly recommend reading it and then reading it again. Make your own notes and occasionally refer back to them or come back here and read these notes again. There are a number of great things that you’ll be reminded of and will help spark new ideas to grow yourself and your business.
People
  • Avoid taking on someone else’s legacy
  • If you are in the mood to buy a new business – wait.  It can take a long time to change a business culture.  Are you sure you wouldn’t be better off starting one from scratch?
  • In business, someone who can stay cool and calm under pressure is an asset.
  • There’s no rule book.  the past is the past.  We can’t preserve it
  • small, compact companies are, generally better run
  • Put people together in a way that will have them bouncing ideas off each other, befriending each other, and taking care of each other, and suddenly they are coming to you, not with gripes and problems, but with solutions and great ideas.
  • Given the right conditions, exceptional people will reveal themselves
  • There’s another thing about teams: they don’t last forever
  • When the business lets you, shake things up a little
  • The best manager is someone who cares about people and who is genuinely interested and wants to bring out the best in them
  • A manager should basically be a considerate person who is as interested in the switchboard operator and the person who cleans the lavatories as he or she is in the fellow managers
  • A self-disciplined employee will have the patience to conduct routine business routinely, the talent to respond exceptionally to exceptional circumstances, and the wisdom to know the difference between the two
  • you can’t dictate attitudes from on high.  All you can do is hire the right people and empower them to sort things out as they happen.
  • If someone has paid you for something, and it goes wrong, being cagey or defensive will kill you stone dead
  • If someone has a lousy experience at your hands, they will warn people
  • If you are able to sort out your customers’ problems better than they expected, then they will be your loyal friend for life
Brand
  • Befriending one’s enemy is a good rule for business – and life
  • A brand always means something, and ultimately you can control the meaning of your brand only through what you deliver to customers
  • Turnover can be huge, but it is the profit margin that matters
  • I learned another key fact about running a business: try to have a plan B
  • Publicity is absolutely critical.  You have to get your brand out and about
  • A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a full-page ad, and a damn sight cheaper
  • it is sometimes better to follow a pioneer than be a pioneer
  • Maintaining a consistent tone in the face of rapid growth was a key requirement
  • You can’t restructure culture.  If you’ve burnt people, if you’ve killed their enthusiasm or commitment, then changing office space or putting a few more dollars in their pocket will not unduly affect the culture that exists
  • Whatever your brand stands for, you have to deliver on the promise.  Don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and deliver everything you promise.  That’s the only way you’ll ever control your brand.  And beware: brands always mean something.  If you don’t define what the brand means, a competitor will.
Delivery
  • Don’t waste your precious time.  Phone calls and emails can eat your day.  Don’t let them.  No one will think less of you for getting to the point.
  • I advise every owner of a company to keep a notebook and jot down the things that need doing
  • You must never forget that every change ushers in unforeseen consequences
  • Success one day does not give you a free lunch every day thereafter
  • We’ve started, so we’ll finish
  • Never imagine that you are immune from big events.  Make your small decisions in the light of the bigger picture, and you are at least pointing your craft in the right direction to ride out any storm
  • One business mantra remains embedded in my brain – protect the downside
  • Remember to communicate, and pay attention to detail
  • Don’t be afraid of changing your bank if they are unreasonable.  Banks are not for life.  But don’t put it off till the last minute
  • Out of recession, new ideas and new business often grow
  • If you are a late entrant to the market, you need to be radically different to win over customers.
  • If you rip off the customer, then you will destroy the integrity of the brand
  • When you’re first thinking through an idea, it’s important not to get bogged down in complexity
  • You can never go too far wrong by thinking like a customer who’s new to the business
  • It’s easy – too easy, in fact – to relinquish your responsibility for your idea to experts.  This is almost always a mistake, because experts are only experts in their field.  They’re not experts in your idea.  At this stage, the only person qualified to assess your idea is you
  • You need to flesh out your own ideas.  You need to do your own research.  You need to take responsibility for how you plan to turn an idea into action
  • Keep a cool head.  You’re in business to deliver change, and if you succeed, the chances that  no one will get hurt are virtually zero.  This is the rough and tumble of business.  Be sportsmanlike, play to win, and stay friends with people wherever possible.  If you do fall out with someone, ring them a year later and take them out to dinner. Befriend your enemies.
  • Being a well funded company puts you at a tremendous advantage
 
Learning from Mistakes and Setbacks
  • Never do anything that means you can’t sleep at night
  • You can’t protect yourself against the unexpected, so you need to keep your house in as good an order as you can.  If disaster strikes, you don’t want to find yourself doing twelve things at once and misprioritising them in public.  It’s vital, therefore, that you take control of your internal business risks – the ones you can influence.
  • I think it is counterproductive to be ruthless.  You’ve got to treat people as you would yourself, or better
  • You definitely should get the best people around you when confronted with a serious problem.  Don’t try to deal with it all by yourself.  Don’t be afraid to seek help and advice.
  • If you drive down the retail price fast enough when you are the dominant player, you never allow anyone else to catch up because they can’t make enough money.  It requires the dominant player to be brave, because it can mean cannibalizing your existing sales by dropping the retail price.  (i.e. Apple and the iPod)
  • Protect your reputation.  Don’t be afraid of making mistakes
  • If you’re hurt, lick your wounds and get up again.  If you’ve given it your absolute best, it’s time to move forward.
Innovation
  • The best, most solid way out of a crisis in a changing market is through experiment and adaption.
  • Innovation is what you get wen you capitalize on luck, when you get up from behind your desk and go and see where ideas and people lead you.
Entrepreneurs and Leadership
  • True leadership must include the ability to distinguish between real and apparent danger.
  • You need to understand the challenges to your enterprise and face up to them.  Equally, you have to resist the temptation to overreact at the first sign of trouble.
  • Every business plan should include: “This company will have lots and lots of parties and social get-togethers.”
  • The creator’s job is to find someone with expertise who understands the vision and is prepared to follow the path.
  • If you can keep the business relatively small, people will know each other within the organisation and feel like part of the team.
  • Decent leadership is about explaining clearly and unemotionally why a decision has been taken.
  • Failure is not giving things a go in the first place.
  • Only a fool never changes his mind.
  • DON’T BRING ME YOUR PROBLEMS – BRING ME THE SOLUTIONS
Social Responsibility
  • It is possible to turn a profit while making the world a better place.
  • What can you do to make a difference?
  • One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it.  If you do that, you will double the danger.  But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.  Never run away from anything.  Never! – Sir Winston Churchill
  • Don’t forget to listen
Epilogue
  • It is important to look for one’s strengths – to try to excel at what you’re good at.
  • What you’re bad at actually doesn’t interest people, and it certainly shouldn’t interest you.
  • So don’t let your limits knock your self-confidence
  • Success for me is whether you have created something that you can be really proud of.

Get this book and others from Richard Branson HERE, or Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks and listen to his first two books for free!

The Most Gifted and Recommended Books from Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris

This list is at the end of a previous post, Review Notes from Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss, but I wanted to add it here to keep it separate for reference.

Many of these top 17 books are some that I have already read. But for those that I have not, they are next on my list. If you’re interested in any of them click on their title or join Audible and listen to them. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

In addition to this list, there are a number of other great books listed in Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss. Check it out, it’s a great book.

The Most-Gifted And Recommended Books of All Guests
  1. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
  2. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  3. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harai
  4. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  5. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferriss
  6. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
  7. Dune by Frank Herbert
  8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Robert Cialdini
  9. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
  10. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom
  11. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard P Feynman
  12. The 4 Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat Loss, Incredible Sex and Becoming Superhuman by Tim Ferriss
  13. The Bible
  14. The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  15. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
  16. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  17. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel with Black Masters.

Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

As I have been spending some time studying new books and reviewing others that we have previously used in our Kodiak Mountain Stone Education Plan I have enjoyed learning new things and refreshing my mind with things I have been taught in the past. Tonight I was reviewing my notes from a book that I loved and we had used in one of our education meetings in the past, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Thou Shall Prosper is a well written book giving a practical approach to making money and creating wealth based on the principles of ancient Jewish wisdom. Lapin outlines his ten commandments of making money that Jews have used for centuries to be successful in business and finance. Whatever your faith or background, you will be able to benefit from the thoughts and ideas outlined in this book. He teaches that a person’s quest for profit and wealth is inherently moral. In our world today there’s often a negative view toward people who are trying to get ahead and make money. Just try telling someone that you’re learning what it takes to be rich, to be a multi-millionaire and watch how they react. Some will be positive and supportive but many, if not most, will look at you as greedy, selfish and maybe crazy. But the fact is that you cannot make money without benefiting other people. He says, “the only real way to achieve wealth is to attend diligently to the needs of others and to conduct oneself in an honourable and trustworthy fashion.”

The Second Commandment
Extend the Network of Your Connectedness to Many People

Today I’m going to focus on The Second Commandment where Lapin teaches the importance of networking and our replationships with people. He teaches that you need to meet a lot of people from all different areas of life. He also explains that cities offer the most opportunity for making wealth. It makes sense that you have a better chance of succeeding in business or with wealth if you go to where people are. You can have the best business in town with 100% of market share, but if there are only 500 people in your town and they are your entire market, well, you see your limitations.

Our company, Kodiak Mountain Stone, is a perfect example of this for me. We started Kodiak Mountain Stone in Cardston, Alberta, Canada and continue to have our head office located there. The support we have had from the community for our business has exceeded my expectations and I’m grateful for such tremendous support. But Cardston is a community with a population under 4,000 people. To grow our company we had to extend our reach far beyond the boundaries of Cardston. When you look at some of the cities we sell in now, if we have a very small market share of that community it could be much larger than 100% market share of Cardston. You have to be where your customers are.

As you look to expand your network you will be successful if you focus more on building genuine relationships rather than looking for people that can do something for you.

“On the face of it, this book’s Second Commandment advises you to build genuine and sincere relationships with as many people as possible with no thought of reward. Beneath the surface, it informs you that, paradoxically, reward will follow in proportion to the lack of self-interest you projected while forming the relationships in the first place.”

At Kodiak Mountain Stone I’ve stressed to my team that people want to do business with other people who they like and trust. In Thou Shall Prosper we are taught that if we succeed in business it will be because people like us. Everyone has a choice who they deal with and it’s through your actions that people will decide if they want to deal with you, and your business, or not.

Thou Shall Prosper shares a great perspective on building wealth and money. Daniel Lapin shares some excellent insight on the topic. This is a great book that I would recommend reading but I would also recommend re-reading it, making notes and reviewing them often. The ideas shared in this book will help you in your business and professional lives.

You can listen to this book free Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Prompt: Trust Millions

Defensive Strategy

I recently watched an interview Tony Robbins did with a high powered investor for Tony’s new book, MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom It was interesting to listen to how much emphasis was placed on defence. This has had me thinking about defence over the past few days since listening to the interview.

When I think of the importance of defence, my first reaction is to think of my sporting experiences. From playing to coaching defence is always stressed. Defence can win or lose a game and all good players and coaches recognize this. But how does it impact us in business?

Competition in business forces companies to constantly engage in both offensive and defensive strategies. To grow a business a company either has to take market share from a competitor or create a new market. In the case of taking market share from competitors, companies have to have their defensive strategies in place to maintain that share of the market and fight off competition.

This topic could head in so many different directions when you are talking about defensive strategies. We could continue talking about defensive strategies to protect market share from existing competitors, new competitors, big box stores coming to market, etc., etc., etc. But what has had me thinking about defensive strategies recently is market conditions.

Our company, Kodiak Mountain Stone, operates in both Canada and the US. Our head office and main business run in Alberta where we have a store in Lethbridge and one in Calgary in addition to multiple dealers in our network. Last week the Bank of Canada spoke about the economy. They addressed the low price of oil that has a big impact on Alberta. There are a lot of jobs in Alberta that are dependent on oil and low prices have a huge impact on those jobs. They also addressed the impact that the low interest rates that we have seen for a number of years have had on consumer debt levels. Then they addressed housing prices and indicated that they could be overvalued as much as 10% to 30%. There’s a lot of information there that when you analyze it, consider the potential impact they have on each other and consider the impact that they could have on the economy and directly on the industry we are involved in, it could be scary.

I like to believe that I’m an optimist and trust that things will just work out if you do your part. I also try not to spend much time watching or listening to news because the reality is that I can’t do anything about the price of oil or the fact that homes are overvalued. But in business, while we need to be optimistic, we need to be realists as well so we can prepare both our offensive and defensive strategies. And though I think that we should avoid watching or listening to as much of the news as possible, we need to be aware of what has a personal impact on us or our companies.

So what is the defensive strategy here?

Good, Better, Best
First of all I think you need to have a good handle on projections. For me, that means working close with my CFO. Having a great numbers person to work with is vital in business and I’m fortunate to have one of the best. I’m not a big believer in long term projections. When I first started in business I had to have my 1, 3, 5 and 10 year projections figured out each year. But I soon learned that the further out our projections got, the more time we were wasting. Now that I have some more business experience behind me, I know that I cannot predict accurately where we are going to be ten years from now. We can project three to five years from now but with my experience even in that time frame our company could take a complete 180. But I’m still a believer in projections and personally feel that you should be figuring out your projections for at least the next 3-5 years.
Figuring out your projections should include three scenarios. You need to figure out your good, better and best projections.
Best is where your company will be if things really go your way and your company does even better than expected.
Better refers to the scenario of what you actually think will happen.
Good could be labeled worst by a pessimist because this is the scenario when nothing goes as planned and the wheels fall off.

From a defence point of view, the Good Scenario is the most important scenario to consider. This is the scenario when nothing goes right. Sales are down, expenses are up, problems are mounting. None of us want this scenario to happen, but what if it does. This is the scenario that you must spend time analyzing. If this happens, what will you do? What will your defensive strategy be? How will you survive?

Defence wins games. Being prepared for the worse case scenario and knowing what you will do it you are faced with it is your number one defensive strategy. Once you know what that strategy will be, get out there and work as hard as you can to achieve the Better or Best scenario results.