When I was 21 years old, I believed in an idea that would change the world.
It was an idea that seemed too far-fetched, but still seemed possible if I was willing to work steadily toward it. This particular idea was simply about the teachings that were omitted from our educational system.
After reading as many books as I could find, I learned quickly that there were many subjects that schools didn’t teach. They included the following subjects: Time-management, earning money, making decisions, setting goals, building and maintaining relationships, etc.
Because I devoted myself to this simple idea, it made me a millionaire by age 24. In my personal life, I’ve found that there were ten strange secrets about millionaires. Once you see these common trends, you’ll be able to leverage all your current opportunities.
1Become a Student
In every spare moment I had, I studied these subjects voraciously, seeking precepts that aligned with the truth. When I commuted to work, gym, and school, I would listen to audio programs, absorbing as many ideas as I could about these subjects. I also attended 20 seminars in my first year.
My mind started to change as I looked at myself and those around me. I realised that I wasn’t satisfied with my position, but how would I change it? Even though I was in college, I wasn’t sure if school was the answer, especially since I wanted to start my own business.
2Decide to Do Something
I had to make a decision. Soon after, I quit my MBA programme and began giving hundreds of free speeches. I did whatever I could to get the word out. In my first two years, I spoke at more than 500 live events, most of which were unpaid engagements.
Even as I worked 18 hour days for 7 days a week, I was sick to my stomach about how I would be paid. At the time, I lived off of credit cards and peddled my book in speeches. In some instances, I sold my book door-to-door. I also became a master salesman when I sold everything in my house!
3Do Whatever it Takes
I thought success was for older people. Since I was in my early 20’s, I wasn’t sure if it could happen. The majority of audience members were twice or three-times my age.
I thought they knew much more than me, but I still showed up. Most of the time, I drove over two or three hours to get to my speeches, even dealing with snow or torrential rainfalls.
One time when I visited New York City, I gave a speech to one old man. When I came out of the speech, I found out that my car had been towed, which cost me R3 000. What’s more, I was deeply saddened to find a R5 000 parking infraction on my wiper blade for making in an illegal spot. Essentially, I waited all day and paid R8 000 to give a speech to this one old man.
4Paying the Price
Between my speeches, I would sweat in my used wool suit and tie as I knocked on doors to sell my book. The people at most homes would shut the door as I pitched my product, if they answered at all. I would sell five to ten books per hour, but it was brutal. At the time, I thought the task was never-ending, despite the decent profit.
Another time, I had to give five speeches on four different subjects. That day, I was awake from 4 am to 6 am – a 26 hour day. I had no money or food, but I had common sense. Since most hotels served hors d’oeuvre while they held their networking functions, I ate their “freebies” whenever I could find those meetings.
5Competence Breeds Confidence
Within a year, I went from stuttering, stammering, and stumbling with my words to giving a 20-minute speech without notes. As my competence grew after every speech, so did my confidence. In my second year, I was able to masterfully give all-day seminars to hundreds of people at a time.
Soon enough, my financial situation got better and I didn’t have to use credit cards anymore. However, I would still be late with my bills every once in a while, which drove me insane. How did I work all day, but not make ends meet? Why didn’t I have a surplus for my services?
6How to Increase Your Wealth
Because of this immense struggle to support myself, I began a side business, Dignify Designs, which took off faster than I would have expected. The idea came when I did a lady’s resume for free. After she secured her job, she only paid me R250, but told all of her friends about me, which brought me new clients.
As my company grew, I hired a dozen people in my first year. Between speaking and writing, we helped many people write and publish their books, create websites, and utilise social media. Since forming the company, my team has branded thousands of people who’ve been able to start and grow their businesses.
7The Legitimate Dilemma
During that time, I had a legitimate dilemma: Should I grow Dignify Designs to a multi-million-dollar business or should I pursue my purpose of spreading the message about true education?
The answer was BOTH. As I funded myself with Dignify Designs, my income exploded, making me a multi-millionaire in the process. Of course, as a byproduct of my success in business and my experiences, I was also highly sought out as a speaker, since people loved my speeches, articles, and videos.
8Big Breaks Will Come
Along the way, several big breaks came when I started writing, speaking, and consulting on bigger platforms. Instead of reaching hundreds or thousands each month, I was now reaching millions. It was a dream come true, especially after all the blood, sweat, and tears.
Eventually, the grind paid off as a multitude of people started coming to me. It was a great relief and I began to realise my value to society. Because of these expanded opportunities, it has given me to privilege, power, and platform to share my passion with as many people as I can.
9Money Follows Passion
I learned that when you do what you love, the money will follow. When you start reaching for people’s hearts, rather than their wallets, you’ll be more successful. Love has a very attractive force that magnetises people in your direction. Love and money go together. In fact, money is the highest expression of love.
Fortunately, I have the privilege to work at any time I want. I can afford to sleep in on most days and even take a year or two off. However, it came at a great price that only few people are willing to pay. When you do what you love and love what you do, you’ll have more freedom than what money can buy.
10My Biggest Secret
No one knows what is yet to come in the future. We can only go as far as we can see. However, you must have faith in yourself, your community, and everyone else. You must believe in yourself and know that everything that you want (and more) will happen in your favour, as long as you believe it.
How do you find the answers in life? I can tell you what my biggest secret is:
Trust in a power that is greater than yourself.
It’s a simple answer, but it is the truth. Once you do, you’ll never be afraid of pursuing the impossible because you know that everything will work out in the end.
If you believe in yourself, everyone will believe in you.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Six Fundamental Business Lessons Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney
His success is all the more amazing when you learn how many times Walt Disney failed.
Everyone knows Walt Disney. Almost everyone has been to a Disney park somewhere, seen a Disney movie (live action or a cartoon) or knows some Disney character. Some people even go on Disney cruises.
Disney the man
I think in some ways people know more about Disney, fewer people about Disney the man. Walt Disney, the man, has somewhat faded into the background for many people. It is understandable since he died fifty-one years ago, in 1966. Walt was a visionary, an entrepreneur and a creative genius. There are some invaluable lessons every entrepreneur can learn from what he was able to accomplish in his life.
1Never give up
Many people don’t know that Walt Disney was not an overnight success. He started several companies that went bankrupt. He started a commercial art studio, and it tanked. He tried to create advertisements, and they also failed due to lack of revenue. Instead of giving in or giving up, Walt always just tried the next thing.
As Walt said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
2Be a problem solver
Walt Disney was the consummate problem solver. He was very observant and was always looking for ways to solve a problem and how it could be an opportunity in the marketplace.
He took his daughter to a park to ride some rides, and he noticed the rides were dirty and in bad shape, and the people operating the rides were rude.
Walt thought about this problem – and it became Disneyland. He wanted a place that was safe and clean, where parents could take their kids.
As Jason Kilar once said, “When I was 10, we drove to Disney World. When we arrived, what impressed me most was the meticulous attention to detail; there wasn’t a gum wrapper anyplace.”
3Be willing to reinvent yourself
Many people don’t know that Disney’s first major cartoon star was not Mickey Mouse – it was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He had signed a contract with a distributor for the short cartoons and was thrilled with their success.
When he went to renew the contract, they fired Walt. The distributor said (unknown to Walt) that they legally owned Oswald, and that Walt Disney didn’t, as outlined in the contract.
Even worse, all of Walt’s animators left Walt and went to work for the other company.
Walt went home having lost his biggest success. He had to start over. As Walt said, “Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner.”
4Surround yourself with talent
Walt Disney admitted he was not the most talented at drawing or animation. As he once said, “I started, actually, to make my first animated cartoon in 1920. Of course, they were very crude things then and I used sort of little puppet things.” He was brilliant at knowing what he did best and was able to hire the best artists and animators in the world.
The person who animated Mickey in the early was not Walt but an animator named Ub Iwerks. Walt didn’t have to have the talent for drawing, but he had the vision. It’s like being an architect – you don’t have to be the general contractor. You just have to know what you want the project to look like when it is done.
Walt was an inquisitive soul and always wanted to learn new things. In animation, this led to some stunning developments in the early years.
He is famous for making the first sound cartoon, the first live action and animation mix film, the first full-length cartoon movie. Until then, Walt’s cartoons were fluffy, short, mindless entertainment people watched that came on before the main feature.
Here is the point and don’t miss it – he didn’t know how to do any of those things. His curiosity led him to investigate how to do these things and figure out how to get it all done. Walt said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt was smart enough after building a successful animation studio to get into live action movies, documentaries, television, amusement parks and tons of products. He could have just been an animation studio, but that would not have created the kind of success his company had.
I think Walt said it best: “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”
Every business needs to keep looking at ways to grow and diversify.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
20 Crazy Things We’ve Learned About Alibaba Billionaire Jack Ma
From getting kidnapped to dressing up as Michael Jackson, the Alibaba founder has a lot of wacky stories to tell.
As someone who rose from being rejected from Harvard 10 times to becoming the second-richest man in China, Jack Ma’s rags to riches story is inspiringJack Ma
Through persistence and experimentation, Ma built one of the most successful, record-breaking companies to date, the ecommerce giant Alibaba.
Of course, his success didn’t happen overnight, and his story is full of lessons in failure. Growing up, Ma struggled in school, constantly failing tests. When he finally got accepted to college, after he failed the college entrance exam twice and was rejected from Harvard 10 times, Ma eventually became an English teacher. However, once he was introduced to the internet during a work assignment in 1995, the rest was history.
Motivated to help the internet catch on in China, Ma launched Alibaba, an ecommerce site for small- to medium-sized businesses, in 1999. From there, it took years to build the site into the massive online wholesaler it is today, powered by Ma’s motivation and passion. Today, Ma is worth a whopping $39 billion, and since he stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO in 2013, he’s devoted much of his time and money to social causes.
There’s much to learn about the Chinese billionaire. Here are 20 interesting facts about Ma you probably didn’t know.
He wasn’t a great student
While one might assume Ma was a straight-A student, quite the opposite was true. Ma admits that he actually failed multiple times in school: “I failed a key primary school test two times, I failed the middle school test three times, I failed the college entrance exam two times.”
He began learning English when he was 12
At 12 years old, Ma was committed to learning English. Every morning for eight years, he would ride his bike 40 minutes to a hotel in Hangzhou, where he would volunteer as a tourist guide for visitors just to practice the language.
He was rejected from Harvard University 10 times
It usually takes only one rejection for someone to give up on getting into an Ivy League, but this wasn’t the case for Ma. During an interview at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in 2015, Ma admitted to being rejected from Harvard 10 times.
He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life after college
After graduating from Hangzhou Normal University, Ma applied for 30 different jobs, and he got rejected from each one. During the process of applying for these jobs, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, so he submitted his resume for a variety of unique positions, one even being a police officer.
He was rejected from KFC
One of the 30 jobs Ma applied for after he graduated from college was a position at the fast food chain KFC. Out of a pool of 24 applicants, KFC hired 23 – and the one person who didn’t get a job was Ma.
He loves “Forrest Gump”
Jack Ma’s fictional idol is Forrest Gump. Like Gump, Ma also struggled in school, then went on to achieve success. “I’ve been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I’m frustrated I watch the movie,” he shared with CNBC in an interview. “I watched the movie before I came to New York.”
He became a teacher and made $12 to $15 a month
After graduating from Hangzhou Teachers University, Ma’s luck – and career – turned around. Ma was the only student of 500 to be chosen to teach at a university. Teaching English, Ma said he made what was then the equivalent of $12 to $15.
He was first introduced to the internet in 1995
In 1995, while on assignment as an interpreter in Seattle, a friend showed Ma the internet for the first time. His first search was on Yahoo for “beer.” However, it was through this search that Ma discovered there was no data about China, so he decided to launch a website called China Pages.
He was kidnapped and threatened with a handgun
During that same trip, which was his first time in the U.S., Ma also was assigned to go to Malibu, Calif., to collect debt from an American businessman on behalf of a friend. The businessman ended up locking Ma in his home and threatening him with a handgun. After a few days, the man brought Ma to Las Vegas with him when he was due to meet with a group of Chinese businessmen. Still without the money at this point, Ma won $600 on the slot machines in Vegas, bought a plane ticket to Seattle and left the scene.
His first entrepreneurial venture ended in failure
After borrowing $2,000 from friends to launch China Pages in an attempt to popularise the internet in China, Ma’s venture didn’t quite go as planned. It ran on a server with a dial-up connection in his small apartment, which made pages take more than three hours to load. At the time, his direct competitor was China Telecom, from whom Ma accepted an investment of $185,000 for a joint venture. In the end, however, Ma found he did not have much say in the business. Eventually, he left and took a job with China’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.
He announced Alibaba in a videotaped meeting from his small apartment
By 1999, Ma was on to his next business idea for bringing the internet to China, and he had raised $60,000 from 18 friends to launch his ecommerce platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. Through a videotaped meeting that took place in his small apartment in Hangzhou, Ma introduced Alibaba.
The name “Alibaba” came from a children’s story
Ma got the name Alibaba from the folktale series One Thousand and One Nights. He was inspired by the story of the poor carpenter Ali Baba, who came across an abundant treasure.
While growing Alibaba, Ma and his team made mistakes along the way
Ma’s journey wouldn’t make for a true entrepreneurial story if mistakes and hardship weren’t involved. He attributes three somewhat counterintuitive factors to the success of Alibaba: having no money, no technology and no plan. He’s said that having limited resources made his team more diligent – especially when it came to money, because they had to use their limited funds carefully.
Even as Alibaba grew, Ma admits the company tried to expand too fast, was stretched too thin and had to lay off a lot of people. By the end of 2002, Ma said the company had made just $1 in profits.
Alibaba holds the record for most money raised in an IPO
When Alibaba went public in 2014, its $25 billion IPO broke records for the largest IPO in history – beating both Facebook and Visa.
But Ma wishes Alibaba never went public
In 2015, Ma admitted that if he could do it again, he would keep Alibaba private. “Now, after the IPO, it’s much worse,” he said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. “If I had another life, I would keep my company private.” After Alibaba went public, it entered the spotlight and faced some scrutiny from investors, regulators and the media. Ma was playing on a bigger stage. “It’s not only our people that watch us,” he said, “the globe watches us.”
He says he doesn’t know much about technology
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ma admitted that he actually doesn’t know much about technology, despite owning one of the most successful tech companies in the world. “I know nothing about technology,” he said. “The only thing I can use my computer [for] is [to] send [and] receive email and browse.”
He loves to perform
Ma loves to put on a show. In 2009, during Alibaba’s 10th anniversary party, Ma threw on a blonde wig and performed The Lion King onstage. At the 2017 anniversary party, Ma went all out and dressed up as Michael Jackson from the Dangerous World Tour. With a group of hired backup dancers, he performed “Billie Jean” and Beyoncé’s “Formation.”
He’s the second-richest person in China
As of September 14, 2017, Ma is the second-richest man in China, according to Forbes. He has a net worth of $39 billion.
He stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO because he felt he was too old
In 2013, Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO, saying, “I’m 48. I’m no longer young enough to run such a fast-growing business. When I was 35, I was so energetic and fresh-thinking.”
After stepping down as CEO, Ma refocused his efforts on social issues
In an interview with the Financial Times, Ma shared what he planned to do after leaving his executive position. “In China, because of problems in water, air and food safety, in 10 or 20 years, we will face a lot of health problems, like increased cancer. So that is one area where I will invest my money and time.”
Alibaba bought a stake in Citic 21CN in 2014, changing its name to Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd. Since then, Ma has spent much of his time and money attempting to bring hospitals and pharmacies online.
That same year, Ma launched the JackMaFoundation, which focuses on education, the environment and public health. In 2015, Ma was recognised as China’s biggest philanthropist, having donated a total of $2.4 billion (after share options) to his foundation.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Build A Top-Class Reputation In The Competitive World Of Media And Agencies
Darren McKinon’s clients and colleagues love him, as evidenced by his winning the Media Owner Rising Star Award at this year’s MOST Awards. Entrepreneur chatted to him about putting clients first, focusing on achieving your goals, and always staying positive.
The MOST awards are voted for by the media industry. What does it mean to you to be voted Rising Star?
This was a goal I set for myself three years ago. To achieve this accolade is confirmation for myself that if you set your mind on something, anything is possible. It’s particularly important to me that my clients voted for me, because it means I’m consistently delivering on my promises and commitments.
I’ve built up long-standing client relationships over many years and at all levels. I believe you need to be willing to put your client’s challenges ahead of your own agenda, and to understand what really matters to their business. This is the key to building partnerships and trust.
What is your business ethos, and how has this impacted the way you operate, and how your industry, clients and colleagues view you?
Teamwork, humility, perseverance, and a whole lot of fun along the way. Whether I’m in a client meeting or at the office with my team, I’m the same guy. Being real is crucial. In business and life, people see through the BS.
I’ve always believed that you can get absolutely anything you want by going about it the right way.
Winning should never be at the expense of something or someone else. You should always have a sense of humour. This has worked well for me – if you’re having fun, not only does your best work come out, but people relate to you that much more.
If there’s one key lesson I’ve learnt, it’s that making people feel at ease is an important part of any negotiation and a crucial start to building a real relationship.
But the real magic lies with your team – surround yourself with the most dynamic people you possibly can, give them the tools to do what they do best, and then get out of their way. I have the best team in the industry, and I’m privileged to work with them on a daily basis.
What is your productivity mindset, and how does it promote effective and efficient work?
Make time for yourself and be selfish about it. This comes at a price as it means unplugging, switching off or tuning out. Work never ends, so manage yourself and your time in order to commit 100% of your focus to the task at hand.
Being connected has massive advantages, as everyone has access to information. This greatly benefits productivity as long as it’s used responsibly.
In general, my mindset is extremely positive – even on bad days. Having a great attitude is a fundamental force in driving productivity and achieving positive results. It’s also infectious. I surround myself with positive people. Time is too precious for negativity.
How important is a personal brand?
It’s a double-edged sword. Your personal brand is everything, but should never be the driver or reason for why you are doing something. It’s the by-product of doing something meaningful and being honest and real.
Building your personal brand takes time, and time means consistency. If I could sum it up in one word, your personal brand is trust. And be humble in your wins – it’s almost never a solo effort.
What does success mean to you?
Balance. It’s not a destination. You’ll never arrive at ‘success’. Instead, I focus on being resent in everything I do, and enjoying the ride.
If I’m at work, I’m committed, driven and focused. When I’m with my family, they get all of me. Put everything you have into what you’re currently doing and you won’t go wrong.
What’s the most exciting thing currently happening in the advertising and media world?
The fact that everyone has a voice. Consumers have taken the lead and brands are being forced to listen, change and adapt. I get to be an important part of that for a variety of different brands. Every day is new, challenging and unpredictable. I love it.
Out of Home (especially Digital OOH) is changing the media landscape, and allowing synchronisation and synergy between all other media types to take place. It’s forcing everyone out of their media bubble, to understand what clients are needing in the bigger media picture, and ultimately connecting with consumers on a more meaningful level.
I’ve witnessed huge innovation in the OOH space during my time in the media industry, from classic to digital OOH, mass reach to activations and experiential marketing. OOH has become both a mass reach, high impact media platform, as well as an interactive, experience-building opportunity for all audiences.
What big changes do you see on the horizon that you believe your industry peers should be keeping an eye on?
The answer has to be digital, but it’s in the way it’s applied. Digital allows for a more relevant, in-the-moment interaction that should lead to more meaningful connections, but I don’t yet see enough brands using digital for these reasons.
Some brands are getting it right, and understand the synergy between platforms in order to engage with their consumers at various times throughout the day and in the right way. They understand consumer mindsets and plan their campaigns and communications accordingly.
Digital has played a big role in the fragmentation of media, which is often used as a negative term.
Instead, this fragmentation, or niche opportunities as I’d prefer to call them, has allowed for far more meaningful and personal connections.
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