Thursday, July 11, 2019

Business Unusual: Follow the Rabbit Hole

In this month's Ask Uncle Marty™ column in MBC Today, instead of answering readers’ letters I decided to share some of my own personal sources for business coaching and inspiration—the people and places I go to myself to shake up my own thinking. Hopefully some of these will strike a chord with you too, as they have with me, and inspire you onward and upward.

The first, easiest way to get a shot of fresh thinking is to tune into podcasts. They’re free, available through a bunch of different apps (I use Apple’s Podcast app since it’s built right into my phone), and available on every imaginable topic under the sun.

I subscribe to a lot of podcasts. I used to listen to even more, as for many years I commuted to my office an hour each way, six days a week, and needed the entertainment to make the drive go faster. Some of the shows in my queue are business related, some are personal growth, and many are just for fun.

For years now, one of my go-to, can’t-miss favorite podcasts has been Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness (complementing, but not to be confused with, his best-seller book, The School of Greatness). Every week, Lewis interviews someone new, from big-time celebrities and influencers to business owners and wellness experts; he has a way of interviewing that breaks down barriers and brings out something genuine. Sometimes the guests I’ve not heard of in advance are the ones from whom I get the most value.

A few months ago, Lewis interviewed Barbara Corcoran, whom many of you likely know from Shark Tank. In that incredible episode—one I could listen to over and over again and gain fresh thought nuggets from each time—I learned about Barbara’s own podcast, Business Unusual. Of course, I subscribed to it right away … and downloaded all her past episodes.

Business Unusual has been an incredible listen, and I highly recommend you check it out. It’s very different from other business coaching podcasts—unusual, as the apt title suggests. The episodes are short, so you can easily bang out one or two on your way to the bank, at the gym, or while you’re getting ready in the morning.

In each episode, Barbara shares little stories—snippets—about lessons she’s learned over the years, experiences she’s had, and people she’s encountered. In one of the first episodes, she talks about how to brand yourself as an expert in your field, even if you don’t feel like an expert. Public perception is everything! She tells of how, when she was building her real estate business (which became an empire) in New York, she was able to brand herself a real estate broker to the stars, even though she hadn’t yet had any celebrity clientele, all because she proclaimed herself as an expert. And soon after, celebrity clients came knocking at her door … and the wild success that followed—one door leading to another, opportunity after opportunity opening up, chances to invent and reinvent herself over and over—is history. Her story reminds me of the old adage, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” If we believe and put in the effort required, we can be most anyone we declare ourselves to be.

Barbara also talks in her first few episodes about making a list. She says to take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, and on one side write everything you feel you are really good at and (here’s the key) enjoy doing. On the other side, write what you don’t think you’re good at and don’t enjoy doing. Then create a career, business, persona, or whatever based on your strengths. It’s so basic, yet so brilliant!

Another gem I’ve recently gleaned from listening to Business Unusual is the importance of creating a team. And not just any team, but a powerful, diverse, fun-infused team. Create a fun work environment by surprising your team with unexpected, fun activities from time to time, whether it’s a group trip, a company party, a night out at their favorite restaurant, or a game night.

Barbara talks about toxic people with bad attitudes and how imperative it is to get rid of them right away. One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch if it’s allowed to fester and spread its negativity. It’s so important to hire and retain good, positive, genuine people. Skills are important, of course, but attitude is so much more important.

I ordered one of Barbara’s books. It’s still on my read-me shelf, alongside Lewis’ two books and countless others I’ve been galvanized to read from business experts, barrier breakers, movers, shakers, and even some bakers. Some I’ve read cover to cover, some I’ve just started, and others are still waiting to be broken in. Reading is something I absolutely need to make more of a priority—a struggle I know some of you share.

One book that I’m currently absorbed in, am reading through backwards and forwards and trying to gain everything I can from, is Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. I’m sure you’ve heard of Simon, his book, or have watched his still-incredibly-popular TED talk, “How great leaders inspire action,” which still holds the record as the third most popular TED talk of all time. (If you haven’t watched that talk, please do so right away!) Start with Why will make you rethink your business from the ground up, and you, your clients, and your community will all benefit tremendously from the shake-up. I promise!

Outside of podcasts and books, if you want to go a little deeper into the inspire-me-verse, consider attending a seminar or summit. I’m not talking about the industry conferences, expos, and workshops you already go to. Yes, those are extremely important and events that I’ve personally been very involved with for years. But consider going to something outside of your normal schtick.

My dear friends Seema and Fahim and I attended the Archangel Summit in Toronto a couple of years ago (and together are planning to attend again this fall), and what an eye opener that was! It was there that we and about 3,000 other entrepreneurs got to see Simon Sinek speak in person, as well as Danielle LaPorte, Daymond John, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Jim Kwik, Nicole Arbour, Marc Kielburger, Angel Lauria, Nicholas Kusmich, Dr. Stephanie Estima, and my personal favorite, Lewis Howes. I was privileged to spend some time with both Lewis and Jim at an after-hours event, and those connections, along with others made that weekend, have become part of my circle of inspiration to keep me both in check and pushing forward.

Summits are great, but you do need to use your noggin when planning for them. There are some that I’m sure are pure shams—charging you lots of money to spend a weekend listening to marketing pitches to get you to spend more money. But there are lot of great ones too, intended not to suck you in, but to uplift you, bring new ideas, and break the mold that you may feel stuck in.

From podcasts to books to summits, there’s a level of inspiration out there for everyone. No matter where we currently stand or what limitations we think are holding us still, sometimes all it takes is willingness, coupled with an open mind, to take in a new perspective; to break our tunnel-vision. Listening to, reading, or experiencing a new point of view is so important to make us realize that there’s a lot more out there.

Where do you start? I’d recommend you download the first episode of Business Unusual. It’s only six minutes long. From there, follow the rabbit hole and see what you can discover.

#LewisHowes #SchoolofGreatness #BarbaraCorcoran #BusinessUnusual #ArchangelSummit #SimonSinek #StartwithWhy #Inspiration #BreaktheMold #MoveForward

Marty Johnson is an entrepreneur, writer, and business coach. He serves as ex officio Director of Communication for AMBC, Editor of MBC Today, and is the owner of Uncle Marty's Shipping Office in Ithaca, NY, where he's also Co-Founder of the Collegetown Small Business Alliance. Please visit him at #AskUncleMarty

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