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Dominate Your Industry: How to Become the Best in Your Field

The notion of a miraculous genius being born smarter and more capable than the rest of us mere mortals charms our curiosity.

Catherine Clifford

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Business-Domination

Robert Greene, author of the popular The 48 Laws of Power (Penguin, 2000), would disagree. The fascination we have in prodigies, he says, is “bogus. It’s completely bogus.” Exceptional talent is about hard work, he says.

Greene studied the lives of exceptionally successful people for his latest book, Mastery (Viking/Penguin, 2012). He says that there is no such thing as being born into superior success. Rather, those politicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, athletes and artists who rise above the rest in their field, achieving what he calls a “high-level intuitive feel” for their specialty, have an unyielding focus and work ethic.

“It’s not a question of some natural talent or brilliance that you have, it’s that you have reached that level of experience or practice,” Greene said. “We have to get rid of that old-fashioned notion of genius and creativity.” He holds himself to the standard he preaches, having put in more 20 000 hours researching and writing his last five books.

In Mastery, Greene examines the cultural poster-children for natural-born genius: Mozart and Einstein. For example, by the time he was 9 years old, Mozart had already put in 10 000 to 20 000 hours of work, equalling the efforts of an average person in his or her 20s, says Greene. Einstein attributed his own success to persistence, he says.

Greene developed a near cult-following for his methodical and – some say – Machiavellian breakdown of power and the people who wield it in The 48 Laws of Power. Part of what makes Greene popular is that he studies powerful people and then breaks down their process such that others can emulate it.

Here are recommendations from Greene for entrepreneurs eager to be the next Steve Jobs.

1. Chose a topic to focus on that you are deeply in love with.

“Masters and highly successful people are emotionally and personally engaged in their work” on a level beyond intellectual curiosity, Greene says. It’s the personal commitment to a topic, problem or skill that is ultimately necessary for motivating and maintaining the long hours and fervent curiosity required to rise to the level of “mastery” in a field.

“Otherwise you are never going to have the energy, the patience, the persistence, the ability to put up with the criticism, you will give up too easily, you won’t push through all the crap the world is going to throw at you.”

2. Skip all the extra school. Learn by doing.

According to Greene, learning entrepreneurship in school is inane. “Being an entrepreneur is making something, it’s like Legos,” Greene says and the best way to become an entrepreneur is to try building businesses.

Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed miserably, notes Greene.

“You want to actually psychologically desire failure because it is how you are going to learn.” If you aren’t going to start your own business, at least work in as small a company as possible to learn as many skills as possible. Avoid large corporations and business school, Greene says. As an entrepreneur, “you are going to hire the people that have the MBAs. They are going to bring in that nuts-and-bolts knowledge.”

3. Don’t focus on making money in your 20s.

“Tune out the idea of making your first million. It’s about learning. You are there to accumulate as much experience building a business and you want to build several, if possible,” says Greene. In the first five to 10 years after college, pursue experience over money. You will learn more than you could earn in those years.

4. When you have some experience, select a mentor.

When selecting a mentor, look for somebody who is already doing what you see yourself doing in five to 10 years, says Greene. If you are going to try to approach a master to be your mentor, wait to do so until you have already started amassing a body of work.

A healthy mentorship relationship is like that between a parent and a child, says Greene. A good mentor should be older than you and at a point in his or her career that he or she is wants to give back. Personality is important, too. “You want somebody who matches your spirit. If you are a very rebellious type, you don’t want a stuffy conservative type mentor,” says Greene.

5. Be flexible and creative.

For the book, Greene interviewed Paul Graham, the computer programmer entrepreneur who started Viaweb, a company acquired by Yahoo in 1998 to become the Yahoo Store, and a partner of Y Combinator, an accelerator for start-up entrepreneurs.

In the highly competitive interview process for Y Combinator, Graham “can tell after one minute if he has the next Zuckerberg or this guy is useless, and it is because they are open-minded, they’re flexible and they love, they are excited, they have a childlike interest,” says Greene. Building a company will inevitably confront you with unexpected challenges, and your ability to adjust your path to deal with those surprises is critical.

Catherine Clifford is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Catherine attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. Email her at CClifford@entrepreneur.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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4 Tips To Become A Team Whisperer (And Improve Your Employee Engagement)

Engaged employees are motivated, innovative and willing to take on more responsibility.

Pieter Scholtz

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Your team needs to be nurtured on an ongoing basis if you want to attract and retain the best employees. You can hire people, you can fire people, and you can tell them what to do. But you can’t make them like what they do. Some business leaders are content with having an unhappy team; as long as they do what they are paid to do then the state of their mental health is seen as superfluous.

This line of thinking is not only wrong, but it is entirely counterproductive to the continued survival of a business. Gallup has run some excellent pieces that demonstrate the difference between engaged and disengaged employees. In particular, they list several additional things that engaged employees bring to the table: Motivation, innovation, and a willingness to take on more responsibility within the company. So how can you keep your team engaged?

That level of motivation contrasts greatly with employees who don’t even want to be there. They do their jobs, but they never put in more than the bare minimum of effort. Don’t expect them to ever go beyond what their job description requires, and if there is a chance for them to duck out of work without getting fired, they’ll take it. Obviously, you don’t want to have a team that consists of these people. But without the right knowledge of how to motivate a team, you’ll find yourself unable to inspire your employees to go above and beyond what is required of them.

Related: How You Can Make Leadership Excellence An Effortless Effort

A great company cannot exist without great employees, and there are steps you can take to mould them into the people you want to have working for you. These tips are proven methods of getting your employees to be engaged in what they do, and anybody can learn to apply them.

1. Be a team, not a dictatorship

Every ship needs a strong captain, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend every second reminding your employees who’s the boss. Your employees look to you for guidance, but they also want to feel as though you are in tune with everything that is going on. Some managers come off as though they are giving mandates from heaven, or worse, they rattle off long lists of orders because they don’t want to do the work themselves.

If you give the directive and then pitch in to reach the goal, you’ll show your employees that they are all part of a team, and they sink or swim together.

2. Give them a chance to shine

It’s true that some people are placidly content with being a cog in the wheel. I’m sure you know of at least one person who is sitting in a job they are relatively indifferent to just so they can collect a pension in twenty years. Those that fit that mould will gravitate towards jobs that give few chances to stand out and plenty of job security. For those who want to achieve more, they will never settle for a job pushing pencils all day.

Related: Effective leadership – Serving Your Team To Serve Your Clients

These restless employees are always looking for a way to prove to you that they are capable of so much more than low-level work. Denying them this opportunity will either push them to greener pastures, or if they can’t/won’t quit, cause them to become disillusioned with what they do.

If you find somebody who wants to prove themselves, let them. An employee who shows the initiative and drive to better themselves is a person who will bring your business an incredible amount of value. Don’t waste this potential.

3. Don’t take them for granted — show your gratitude

This goes beyond a simple “thank you,” although those two words can have quite a bit of power in themselves. If your employees feel like their contributions are not recognised or rewarded, they will feel little incentive to go above and beyond in what they do. How you show this gratitude is as important as the action itself, because a perceived token gesture is even more insulting than a lack of a reward. Put another way, if somebody comes up with a million-dollar idea and you give them a monogrammed lanyard as a gift, don’t expect that person to stick around. Rewarding achievement is the flip side to punishing failure, and a balance between both is necessary to craft the ideal team.

As intuitive as these three traits seem, you probably know from personal experience that a lot of managers don’t quite know how to implement these strategies effectively.

Related: Leadership Hustle: A Modern View On Leadership

4. Share the bigger picture with them

A really important element of keeping your team engaged is to share the bigger picture with them. This involves amongst others:

  • Constantly communicate the Vision and Mission of your business to your team. If your team can buy into why the business was started, where it is headed and why you exist as a business, they will be able to be as passionate as you are.
  • Provide a monthly update on how the business is tracking against its plan and this will empower them to focus on the areas that matter most to the business at that time. This includes sharing financials with the team — here one needs to take into account any legislation that might be applicable — but the more you share, the more you show your team that they are trusted with the information as well as being able to make better decisions that affect the business.
  • Keeping your team engaged, excited and energised is a pre-requisite to developing a high performing team that is able to take the business to the next level. It takes a team of dedicated people to build a successful business. Without this team, your ability to expand at the rate you had planned to will be severely hampered.

IN YOUR TOOLKIT

Become a leader that inspires greatness

multipliers-how-the-best-leaders-make-everyone-smarter-by-liz-wisemanREAD THIS: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, By Liz Wiseman.

Multipliers is profound. It’s been lifechanging for me and everyone that works with me. Leadership is not about having the best answers. You need to ask the best questions, and what happens is that you are turning people into productive engines. Micro-managing stops people from thinking for themselves as they wait for answers from you. The principle is that micro-management on that level means you are paying people 100% salary for 50% productivity. The multipliers effect allows you to pay 100% salary for 200% productivity.” — Robin Olivier, co-founder and MD of Digicape, a R240-million business based in Cape Town. Go to multipliersbooks.com for additional tips, tricks and surveys.

 


WATCH THIS

Radical Candor means challenging employees directly and showing you care personally at the same time. It will help you and your team do the best work of your lives.

Developed by Kim Scott — who led AdSense, YouTube, and Doubleclick Online Sales and Operations at Google and then joined Apple to develop and teach a leadership seminar — Radical Candor is all about becoming a leader who is both respected and followed, without being falsely ‘nice’.

There are two great YouTube videos that will give you her tips and lessons in under 20 minutes:

And if you’re interested in really unpacking the lessons behind radical candor, read the book: Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity.

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5 Signs A Business Is Being Poorly Managed

Are you considering investing in a new company? Evaluate its leadership with these five factors first.

Phil Town

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business-management

Ideally, every business’s success would be so simple that anyone could run it – even an untalented person. Unfortunately, though, many businesses cannot withstand the leadership of an unqualified or untalented person, and, if a business is lucky enough to achieve longevity, odds are that someone unqualified or untalented will run it eventually.

But, how can you, as an investor, identify when a business is being run by one of those untalented people? More importantly, how can you spot when a business is being run by an untrustworthy person?

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Phil Town breaks down five signs of bad leadership you need to consider before investing in a new company.

Click play to learn more.

Related: How To Help Your Team Shift Their Mindset To Embracing Technology For Business Management

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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4 Essential Steps To Take To Successfully Sell Your Business

Here are 4 essential steps that will help you avoid potential setbacks and increase the chances of a fair and satisfying transaction while you are selling your business.

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Successfully Sell Your Business

Many startup founders and small businesses dream of receiving an offer to becoming the next billion dollar business. Whether its because they are ready to move onto another project, or they are ready to expand and are looking to leverage the financial power of a bigger partner, selling a business is a big move for any business. For many business owners, getting an offer from a buyer is certainly exciting, but before you jump into anything, remember that are important steps to take before you sign the paperwork that will move a successful transaction forward.

From making sure you have a functioning and potentially lucrative business model, to working with an expert to establish goals and expectations on both ends to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Here are 4 essential steps that will help you avoid potential setbacks and increase the chances of a fair and satisfying transaction while you are selling your business.

1. Preparation is everything

Since you’re already a business owner, you most likely already know the importance of preparation. When it comes to selling your business it’s always wise to conjure up all that you have learned along the way and apply that to the process of making a sale.

Related: The 6 Most Common Questions Business Owners Ask Before Selling Their Business

Some of the key documents that buyers expect to see are:

  • Corporate records
  • Records of any important contracts
  • Information concerning stocks and investments that would affect the relationship with the buyer.

Preparation also entails that you are forward about any setbacks or issues you had in the past that currently affect company operations. Being open about what failed in your business model will help buyers feel confident in their decision working with you, in addition to understanding what to potentially avoid in the future.

2. Setting up the right environment for buyers

Your business may have received endless praise from the press and has made the “most up and coming list” time and time again that doesn’t mean you are ready to sell. Good press will very likely attract buyers, but if you haven’t created the right environment to continue along with a merger and acquisition, those investors and businesses that were one so eager to scoop you up may not stick around that long. To ensure a productive environment for selling your business  it pays to be open to new ideas, while also maintaining a professional setting from which trust can build.

3. Make sure your finances are in order

Financial records are vital when making a sale. Not only to they provide a clear outline of your businesses progress in numbers, they are also key to making sure you get what you want out of the final sale in the end; investments and any and all financial commitments. Ensuring that both parties are satisfied.

4. Hire a merger and acquisitions advisor

Even the most experienced business owners can benefit from the expertise of a mergers and acquisitions advisor. Trained specifically to help owners assess their the value of the business by reviewing it’s strengths and weaknesses on both a macro and micro economic level.

Some of the key ways that an M&A consultant can help you streamline the selling process are as follows:

  • Professional who specialise in mergers and acquisitions are highly skilled at preparing for due diligence, helping you to navigate and organise the necessary documents and information that is needed by all prospective buyers
  • If you are in the unique situation that you have more than one buyer interested in acquiring your business, an M&A consultant can help you assess which one will be the right relationship for you, especially if you will still be activity participating in daily business operations.

Related: How to Position your Business Now So You Can Sell It Later

Again, experienced business owners may know everything there is to know about running a company, but that doesn’t mean they know how to appeal to buyers. Not only do you have to be in tune with your own company’s needs, but it’s essential that you understand what buyers and investors expect from a sale.

At the end of the day, even if you think you’ve found the perfect buyer, taking a few extra steps to ensure that a potential buyout will meet both parties needs and is overall good for the business can be done by being fully prepared and and working alongside an expert that will help to point you in the right direction. Successfully taking your business won’t happen overnight, in fact most transactions take about six to twelve months to complete, so it pays to be prepared every step of the way.

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