VLOG: Episode 6, The Heart of An Entrepreneur


Driving in to the office the other day I started thinking about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how much mad respect I have for entrepreneurs and what they do.  Here’s the video I recorded about it.

Once again sorry about the audio, I need to both speak up and get a better microphone  I think.  And for some reason I thought sitting in front of a window on a sunny day would be a good idea, won’t make that mistake again, I promise.

I’ll get these technical issues figured about eventually, bear with me okay…  For now enjoy the video.

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You’re doing it wrong!


Living Life and Growing Your Business on Your Terms

Have you ever received unsolicited advice?

You know the kind I’m talking about. One of your “friends” takes it upon themselves to tell you how you’re screwing up your life. And if you would just make one or two “minor” changes you would be so much better off.

This advice is usually sincere. Your friends are probably genuinely worried about you. When they look at your life they likely see the struggles you go through, how hard you work for seemingly little return, the heartache, the sleepless nights, you name it. Your friends see all the stress and they are genuinely worried about you.

If you’d just give up on your dream and take a job with a steady paycheque. Or maybe just slow it down a bit and relegate your business aspirations to weekends and evenings, maybe you’d be better off. You’d have more money, less stress and live longer.

Or so they think.

But make no mistake it’s never really about you.

It’s about how they feel when they are around you. Maybe they feel sorry for you – but that’s not about you, it’s about them. Maybe they feel guilty for their own success in the face of your seeming failure – but that’s not about you either, it’s still all about them. And maybe they feel envy and jealousy because they see the huge potential for your success and wish they had what it takes to be an entrepreneur. But you guessed it, that’s not about you either.

The fact is, no one can give you advice on what you need to do to be successful. Sure there are some general principles but they are ultimately the same whether you work for a boss or not. At the end of the day nobody knows better than you what it will take for you to be successful. Nobody knows your business better than you. Nobody works harder than you. Nobody cares more than you.

So stop listening to everyone else. That’s what you’re doing wrong.

Entrepreneurship is lonely. And for the most part the pay sucks. Work your ass off for 5, maybe 10 years or even more and maybe, just maybe you’ll become so successful you’ll forget about the years of struggle that led up it.

Maybe not.

You have to be prepared to live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else.

That’s my best unsolicited advice.  Take it or leave it.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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Persistence


Persistence isn’t very glamorous. If genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, then as a culture we tend to lionize the one percent. We love its flash and dazzle. But great power lies in the other ninety-nine percent. – Susan Cain; Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

If there is one thing an Entrepreneur needs its persistence.

People use different ways to describe the quality of persistence. They call it heart, drive or gumption but what they really mean is persistence.

The history of the world is full or stories of persistence, people who had a big idea or a big vision and worked at it, day and night until they became an “overnight” success. But we all know there is no such thing as an overnight success, unless by overnight you mean people who work while the rest of the world sleeps.  Entrepreneurs, ministry leaders and just everyday folks who want to be successful in their endeavors know that persistence is the key to success.

goldminer2

 

Three Feet From Gold

There is a piece of American history that has often come to mind for me whenever I think about persistence. It’s one of those stories that is hard to verify but as a result has taken on the qualities of folklore.

Apparently there was a man who went into the mountains in search of gold. He found a small vein a decided that he would need a lot more help in the form of capital investment in order to make his mine profitable so he covered up the vein and went back to the city to raise the needed money. When he returned, deeply in debt, and started digging it turned out the vein was not nearly as profitable as he had originally hoped. He was eventually forced to sell his claim and all of his equipment to satisfy his debts. Years later the new owner of the mine began digging in the same spot and just three feet from where the original owner quit, hit a mother-load of gold worth millions.

People have used this story to explain and further a variety of agendas. I most often hear it as an inspirational tale of persistence but it can also be given as a cautionary tale about the toll of too much debt. Had the original owner built out his business more slowly he could have purchased equipment with cash and not have had to worry so much about making payments on the debt before the vein paid off. But at the end of the day the idea remains the same.

Persistence pays.

I tend to write with a double emphasis on entrepreneurship and Christ-following. The story of the miner who quit just three feet from gold has applications and implications in both worlds. The call of the entrepreneur and the Christ-follower are similar in that both have a vision for the “now and the not yet”. Persistence is required in both cases to see the vision come to fruition. So the next time you are tempted to loss heart, remember the story of the miner who was three feet from gold.

Pray and dig a little deeper. The reward could be great.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:14]

Work of Art


So my annual Christmas vacation is coming to an end.

Every year I tend to loosely follow the School year calendar when it comes to Christmas vacation. We’ve been programmed to do this since childhood and unless you work in retail it’s really a great time to slow down, spend time with family and get a few things done around the house. This year, because my wife is working in the school system I decided to follow it exactly, I left my office on Friday December 19 not to return until this coming Monday.  It’s the first full two week vacation I’ve taken in about 8 years!

But I’m an entrepreneur at heart. So regardless of whether or not I’m physically in the office, my work is never very far from my mind. Over the break I have continued to maintain my social media presence, as evidenced by this blog post, did a slight redesign of this web site, (ain’t it pretty?) and read 3 and half books.

I left the office two Friday’s ago with an empty inbox and a clean desk but I will return with a to-do list the length of my arm and a renewed sense of purpose and vigor that I haven’t felt in years! In short, I can’t wait to get back to work!

Why?

Because I’m an artist and the work I do is the canvas I paint on.

is it art

One of the books I read over the break was “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber. For lack of a better term, Gerber is a business coach, his organization, E-Myth Worldwide, is dedicated to helping small business owners develop businesses that work even when they don’t want to.

The E-Myth, according to Gerber is that small business owners are entrepreneurs with big visions about what I means to run their own show when in fact most are merely technicians who got sick of working for someone else and figure that because they can do the work they could run their own shop.

But running your own shop requires a skill set that most technicians don’t have, it requires the ability to step outside of yourself and view the business as an entity in and of itself. Running your own shop is more about developing and over seeing a system and a set of tasks than it is about doing those tasks. Once you reduce your business to a system that anybody can run you are free to step away and work on other things, expand into to new markets and new product lines or retire while the business continues to churn away and make you a whole bunch of money.

If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic! – Michael E. Gerber; The E-Myth Revisited

As I read through this book I started to notice that I’ve been doing this kind of thing all my life. I have always been a systems oriented kind of guy. Just about every task I have in my business has been reduced to a set of check lists in my mind.  Here is what the first hour or so of my day generally looks like;

  • Read Social Media Feeds – Check

  • Write blog post – Check

  • Get Dressed – Check

  • Go to Office – Check

  • Listen to Voicemail, Read E-Mail, Review Calendar for the day – Check

And that little list only takes me to about 9:15 am on most days. To get me through the rest of the day I’ve written a series of daily tasks down on a set of yellow post-it notes that are stuck on the edge of my desk.  When in doubt, I return to the list.

I’m a systems guy because I’ve found that if I don’t follow a system I tend to get bogged down in the mundane busy work that is required of me and I never get a chance to develop or produce anything of lasting value.

The most menial work can be a piece of art when done by an artist. So the job here is not outside of ourselves, but inside of ourselves. How we do our work becomes a mirror of how we are inside. – Michael E. Gerber; The E-Myth Revisited

I love my systems. They keep me focused and they allow my creative mind to wander. I’ve even built time into my system to experiment with the things my creative mind comes up with while I’m physically going through the list of tasks that the system dictates. One day, when the business has grown large enough to support more staff I’ll be able hand off a portion of the system to someone else with little or no training because the system itself is what drives the business not me.  This will then free me up to develop more systems and do even more interesting and creative things.

I can hardly wait. Running a business is like creating a work of art. Like all art forms the value and the beauty is in the appreciation it receives from others. If people appreciate the business I have built it will be profitable and it will also be copy able, I’ll be able to do it over and over again, because of the system.

Is your business a work of art?

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and the art we help create for our clients write to themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

Banishing the Spirit of Eeyore


I used to think Eeyore was funny. Now I just think he’s sad and should be on Prozac.

eeyoretigger

Ever since I started out in business my favorite character in the Winnie-the-pooh stories has been Tigger. Why? Because Tiggers are confident, “that’s what Tiggers to best!”

I self-identify very strongly as an entrepreneur. That means among other things that I’m a self-starter, self-motivated and generally optimistic person. I don’t expect a hand-out, or a hand-up.  I eat what I kill and kill what I eat. I work hard and I play hard and to be honest some days I have trouble telling the difference.

If there is one thing I cannot stand to be around it is negativity. When I am about to embark on a task, whether it is meeting with a dream client, developing a seminar or writing a book, I first must banish all negativity from my life. In short I channel Tigger and dive in.  In the process I end up banishing Eeyore.

When I was first starting out in business I volunteered as a sound designer on a community theater production of the play “Lend Me a Tenor”. That experience was a bit of mixed bag. The director was crazy, I mean certifiably insane but I had the opportunity to work with some great people and I learned a lot. One line from the play has stuck with me to this day. At one point fictional opera star Tito Mirelli turns to his young fan Max and says,

“When you sing, you got to have the confidence. You got to say ‘I’m Max, I’m a da best, I Sing Good!’”

Some people say that entrepreneurs tend to be arrogant and over confident, even a bit delusional. That may be. Tigger does tend to get himself into trouble when he’s not careful but he sure has a lot of fun and most importantly he learns from his mistakes. Eeyore never learns anything. He never takes any chances and he never grows. Eeyore is nothing but doom and gloom from start to finish.

Of course there are other characters in these stories too. Winnie, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga & Roo, Owl and of course Christopher Robin and each has their own psychological profile.  The point here is not to go into a long and drawn out examination of arch types or the “Tao of Pooh”, as one pop psychology book of the 1980s attempted. The point is that the spirit of Eeyore has no place in business. You need to find the Eeyore’s in your life and either get them some help or get them out. Otherwise they will kill your entrepreneurial spirit and bring the whole organization down.

What Winnie-the-Pooh character do you most identify with?

Can you identify the Eeyore’s in your life?

How do you keep them from bringing you down?