As I continue to celebrate my 12th year of being an entrepreneur, here are the Top 12 Lessons I’ve Learned.
1. You Can Learn Anything
None of us come to the table knowing everything we think we need to know to be successful, and the not knowing some things can spook us from even trying. But we humans can learn most everything, or we can bring in the right people to collaborate. And sometimes, ignorance can actually be an asset if you let it. You won’t be mired in the way things are always done or understand how much work you’re really going to have to do.
2. Focus On What You Can Control
In business, like the rest of life, there’s so much we have no control over including what people will or won’t do. The trick is to focus solely on those things we can control (which includes preparing for alternate scenarios if they are likely and not the result of worst-case-scenario-wormholes you’re spiraling through). We do have complete control over what we do: how we spend our time, how we react, how we recharge ourselves, just to name a few. So spend your time and energy focused on what you’re going to do to serve the people you’re trying to serve.
3. Don’t Be Attached to the Outcome of Any One Conversation
No matter what kind of work you do, you’re going to have lots of conversations in which you’ll want a particular outcome. And often that desired outcome won’t happen. But when you approach each convo with a mindset filled with “What can I learn?” and “Do I have something of value for them?”, it changes your posture and will make your conversation more authentic.
4. You Can’t Say the Wrong Thing to the Right Person
Don’t underestimate the power of unbridled enthusiasm and good timing. The woman who leads the biggest revenue of my entire organization joined me in business first, when I was pathetically bad at this. But it turns out that Nicole Cormany’s employer was having cash-flow issues and she was looking for a flexible, part-time gig that she could work around her two daughters. She wasn’t finding it, and then I called with a monologue that makes me laugh/shudder now. That conversation changed the trajectory of my life and hers.
5. Less Is More
Whether it’s a pitch, marketing materials, an incentive program or a conversation, go for less wordy, less complicated, less elaborate. It’s easy to confuse and overwhelm people. And if you’ve got to use so many bells and whistles and words, then you probably should keep iterating the idea.
6. Listening Is More Important Than Speaking
Really listening to the person you’re talking with is essential to effective communication. If you’re not actively listening and instead focusing on what you’re going to say and getting your point across, you’re going to miss valuable clues about what’s most important to the other person. It makes it harder to connect what you’re offering to meet their needs and alleviate their pain points. Don't monopolize the dialog and don't let thoughts of you monopolize your thoughts. Most humans can tell if you really don’t give a damn about what they’re saying. And if you don't, you don't deserve for the convo to go the way you want.
7. Always Tell the Truth
Our integrity is everything, and people can smell bullshit a mile away. If you have to embellish, then something’s wrong. As a young girl I learned from my entrepreneurial dad that long-term meaningful relationships are built on mutual trust. That’s why I’ve always told the truth to my customers and the members of my team. That’s how we’ve survived downturns, mistakes and other not-so-lovely times—because I proved time and again that they can trust me.
8. Learn How To Take the No
If you allow the No’s you get to disappoint you or if you take them personally, it’s going to slow you down or derail you completely. Whether I was a PR pro trying to place media coverage for my clients or a direct sales biz owner looking for customers and team members, I’ve actually worked to the No’s. I knew that for every 10 No’s I got, I’d find an editor that liked my pitch or a customer who wanted my eye cream. If you’re reading this, challenge yourself to go get 100 No’s, whatever that means in your work.
9. Learn How To Say No
If you want to build a big business, something’s gonna have to give. A wise and oh so fabulous woman once wrote, you can have it all, but there’s no way you can do it all. The more we decline, delegate and delete, the more time and energy we have for those things that only we can do. And that makes all the difference.
10. “No” Really Means “Not Right Now”
If you keep following up with people, a significant number of them will eventually say Yes. You’re not being pushy if you continue to reach out with relevancy. A progress update, a new product or service launch, an event in their city, media coverage or an article that applies to them, to connect them with someone who might be helpful to them personally or professionally, to congratulate them and anytime you see, hear, or watch something that makes you think of them and why. Failure comes not from getting No, but from failing to keep following up with the No.
11. Know What Your Time Is Worth
Once I realized the monetary value of every hour of my time, I got the mathematical proof I needed to make it a no-brainer to stop doing some things and delegate others. The equation I came up with has proven so powerful for me and thousands of others, it made it into both of my books, along with how to make business and life decisions based on that number. Calculate your number and live by it. It won’t just change your business; it will change your life.
12. FEAR Is the Reason You’re Limiting Your Success
The #1 reason people settle for mediocre instead of going after what they really want—in business and in all of life—is because they’re scared shitless. I wish I had the magic elixir that could help all of us silence our fears talking to us through the negative voices in our heads. But I can’t. For us humans, there’s no getting rid of fear. Our job is to act in spite of it. I write about a process I’ve used for years to recognize and separate the emotion from facts to muster courage. Because the facts are never as bad and scary as the BS story we’re making up in our heads. Adopt my process or find your own because you’re too capable and your dreams are too valuable to let fear win.
And because it's a family tradition to always have another candle on the cake to grow on, here's a bonus lesson:
13. Success Is Better When Shared
This is the sweetest lesson my direct sales business has taught me. My personal achievements have given me a great sense of accomplishment. But it’s been the achievements of my team that have given me the most joy. I’ve had a front-row seat to the personal growth and triumphs of thousands of others, and treasure that I’ve been able to play a small part of it—whether through mentoring or collaboration. As Zig Ziglar said, you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want. Twelve years in, I know helping others get what they want has been the professional privilege of my life.