Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What I learned from Richard Branson...


I hope you're great! Just finished an event with Richard Branson in Bucharest (a city known as the "Paris of The East") and wanted to share my takeaways with you to help you take your career and life to its next level of wow.

Richard was polite and larger than life. A pleasure to share time with. And a man who clearly adores all he does. I encourage you to read his autobiography "Losing My Virginity" as well as his book "Business Stripped Bare" if you haven't gone through them yet. Uber-inspiring. For people who want to become Remarkable Entrepreneurs - and express their absolute best.

Anyway, I'll get right into some of my observations as well as the ideas we discussed. Please don't underestimate the power of these simple ideas - superbly executed, they yield brilliant results.

1. Politeness Matters. As mentioned, Richard Branson was unfailingly polite. He mentioned to me that when he was a kid, if he criticized someone, his mother would make him stand in front of the mirror at home and say, "what you're seeing in others is really what you're seeing in yourself. So look in the mirror." This educated him on the key leadership habit of looking for - and then encouraging - the gifts and talents within other people.

2. Be Massively Independent. When Richard was just four years old, his mother stopped her car and instructed him to find his own way home, over many miles. When he was about 12, she told him to cycle 100 miles to Bournemouth alone, to visit a relative. He expressed to me that these childhood experiences were his mother's way of growing his self-reliance. And building the invincible inner core that has served him so well as an entrepreneur.

3. Screw It - Just Do It.
What makes a great company (and great life) isn't so much the inspiring idea as the flawless execution around the big idea. As Edison once said: "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Richard shared that much of his success came from his philosophy to disregard the naysayers and those telling him his dream was impossible and just get the dream done. (Please remember: the impossible is generally just the untried). This is a man with a giant bias towards action.

4. Lavish Praise on People.
I know you know this: the bigger the dream, the more important the team. Having worked with many of the best entrepreneurs in the world, I've learned that every single one of them gets that you can't do it alone. Beautiful to have a brave vision. But the real key is finding the genius-level talent to get that vision delivered into reality. And if all you know how to surround yourself with is mediocre people, you're destined to experience mediocre results. Richard is brilliant at finding the right people that bring his targets of opportunity to life. And he confirmed that once they are on his team, "I lavish them with praise." Our takeaway: relentlessly celebrate+develop+inspire your people.

5. Be a Radical Innovator. When he was a young entrepreneur with nothing more than the little college newspaper THE STUDENT, he still showed a lust for disregarding all the rules. He challenged the status quo. And disrupted what was considered normal. An example: he somehow was able to get John Lennon to do an original piece of music for him. He then put the song on a special disc and packaged it into the newspaper, right next to the interview he'd done on the rock 'n roll legend. At Virgin Records, he recruited the Sex Pistols and reinvented a whole category of music. At Virgin Atlantic, he gave passengers massages on airplanes and dropped them home in limos. And with Virgin Galactic, he's taking people into space. Very cool. Fantastically bold.

At the Bucharest meeting, he told the 2500+ people in the concert hall that "sometime in your lifetime, every one of you will have visited other parts of the universe." And I believe it.

6. Build Your Brand. Richard Branson gets branding. He knows what he - and the Virgin name - stands for. Fun. Good Value. Strong customer service. And so at every possible opportunity, he evangelizes all it stands for. Oh, and he's also clearly a master of getting attention. From hot air balloon adventures that made global news to showing up at a press conference nearly naked to promote Virgin mobile, this Remarkable Entrepreneur gets the value of owning a share of our brain cells.

7. Find Your Necker Island. Get this: Branson paid roughly $300,000 for his beloved Necker Island. He and his then girlfriend Joan were visiting the Caribbean on a getaway. They fell in love with Necker - but it was about $4,000,000. But he wouldn't give up (let's never discount the power of a ridiculous amount of persistence around your most closely loved goals). A few months later, the owner needed cash. Branson made his deeply discounted offer. It has served as his retreat away from the world for many years. Here's the real point: in the world of so much noise and complexity, find your personal retreat (even if it's an aged wooded bench in a public garden) where you can withdraw to think+create+renew+rest.

8. Lucky Wins. We make luck. Enough said.

9. Don't Do It If It's Not Fun. Branson wears a smile pretty much all the time. He laughs naturally. And radiates happiness. Zero doubt: he loves his life - and all that's in it (George Clooney said he'd swap his life for Richard Branson's - much to the delight of Richard's wife). The lesson for us: life's just too short to be doing work that destroys your soul. This is the best time in the history of the world to become an entrepreneur. Find work you adore. And get busy changing with world with it.

10. With Gifts Come Responsibilities. OK, so Richard Branson's one of the richest people on the planet. But he gets that being good trumps shiny toys. He mentioned to me that, "with great wealth comes great responsibility." And so he's spending a lot of his days evangelizing Virgin Unite, his foundation that helps kids in need. Reminds me of what my amazing father taught me - using the words of the great poet Tagore - growing up: "Robin, when you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Son, live your life in such a way that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice."

So there you go. What the iconic Richard Branson shared with me on a sunny Wednesday in Bucharest. I hope the lessons also serve you well.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Quid Pro Quo

You are probably wondering what the heck is Jesus on about with this "Quid Pro Quo."  Also, the concept of Quid Pro Quo was given to me by Jane Balderas after she read my last blog.  Thanks, Jane.  Well, I want to continue to discuss the power of giving.  I was reading the Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John  David Mann.  And, the principles that they share in this book are very powerful.

So today's blog post is about Quid Pro Quo.  What does this mean?  According to the dictionary, Quid pro quo (this for that in Latin) most often means a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services.  Another term I often hear in business, is win-win scenario.  What does this really mean, and I never thought of it this way until reading the Go-Giver.  It really is another way of keeping score in many instances.  I have a friend that we usually have lunch once a week together, and we alternate who pays for lunch.  Would I or he keep coming to lunch if only one of us paid every time.  Maybe, but probably not.  In business, I see people set up a referral arrangement between each other.  What they are really doing is testing the relationship.  They will give a referral to see if they get one in return.  And, after several referrals if they have not received a reciprocal referral, then they usually stop giving referrals, and they will look for a new relationship with someone in the same profession to test. How do I know this?  Because I've done it, and been on the other side of the equation of it.

I want to propose a new strategy.  Instead of thinking about whether you will receive referrals from a potential relationship, put your client first.  In other words seek out the best professionals and providers of service for your clients without thinking of your business.  Your focus is on who can provide the best products and services to your clients.  Then approach the business owner, and explain to them that you would like to provide referrals to them because your research says that they provide the best at what they do.  Then freely refer your clients to them.  I know some of you may think this sounds crazy, but think about it for a minute.  How would your clients feel about you if you always referred them the very best of everything?  Would they be happy?  Would they trust you?  How would the other business owners feel about you?  This strategy can explode your business in so many ways because you are doing business for the right reasons - to serve your clients!

This is just one example of how you can apply this powerful principle.  So what is this principle - give to others without the expectation of return.  On a personal front, focus on giving for the sake of giving, not giving to receive.  Give to your spouse to give her/him joy, a break, love, a laugh, etc.  Don't cook dinner to receive a massage.  If the massage comes then great, but if it doesn't you still gave your spouse a break and hopefully a smile from a wonderful meal (unless you can't cook).  I can't tell you how many times I have heard and maybe even said, if I do this for you, you will owe me.  No, they don't owe you.

One last example, find a way this week to give to someone that can't possibly pay you back.  Give to a stranger, a child, a single parent, or the elderly.  Recently a friend of mine met a single mom that was struggling to make ends even come close to meeting.  He quietly talked to several of his friends that were successful in their own businesses. After talking, they decided to go shopping for her, and they bought her about $500 worth of groceries and household needs.  When they gave it to her and her 3 teenage daughters, they just broke down crying (all of them).  The first thing out of the mom's mouth was "but I can't repay you."  The husband and wife said "we know, and we don't want you to."  The families that contributed to her family were so moved by it, they decided to give this to her every month because $150 a month wasn't a challenge for them to commit to.  This is giving freely, and you know what no one even knows that they are helping.

Let's abolish the principle of "Quid pro quo."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Give more value than you ever expect in payment

The title of this blog  is a statement that we hear from time to time, but is rarely seen in business.  What does this even mean?  What kind of value can I offer?  How do I measure the value?  All kinds of questions can run through one's head.

The essence of this message first starts with freely giving to your clients and those that you come in contact with, without expectation of return.  I've witnessed this first hand in relationships.  So often the approach is I'll meet you halfway.  Let's make sure this is win/win.  In theory this sounds good, but it doesn't always work out that way.  It's a nice way of saying, I'll give and then you are expected to give back; and if you don't give back then I'll stop giving.  The fundamental principle here is that you give freely to those that need you.  Here are things that you can give to add value:

  • Kindness
  • a helping hand
  • an idea
  • encouragement
  • a smile
  • great customer service
  • a compliment
  • a speedy response
  • actively listen.
I think you get the idea.  These are all great things that everyone of us possess that we can give to our prospects, clients and random people that we cross paths with.

Now, when it comes to your service or product, make sure you package the above things into the offering of your already great service/product.  There are many people who can deliver the same quality that you can, but rarely do they add the extra touch.  This is what creates a great company.

I'm going to spend time over the next several blogs, but I want to challenge you to think about how you can increase the value of what you give to your clients.  Ask yourself if the culture of company is centered around giving and adding value at every opportunity.  And, if you aren't how can we get there.

Until next time,
Jesus Balderas
"The Coach"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Give Me Your Very Best...

I wanted to share a story with you about the power of the words, "Give me your very best."  My 6 year old son, Alex, and I were watching Facing the Giants one night about 3 months ago.  Alex loved it so much that he watched it several times over the next couple of days.  We talked about giving your very best a little bit, and then I got this idea that I would challenge him to give me his very best.  I created it as an affirmation for him.

I would ask him each morning when I dropped him off at school, "Alex, will you give me your very best today." He replied, "Yes."  And, then I would respond, "You promise me, you will give me your very best today."  He always says, "Yes."

I did this before his Tae Kwon Do class, soccer practice, soccer game, homework, reading, etc.  I think you get the picture.  At first, I didn't notice a difference, but I kept doing it with him.  But, after repeating it to him daily for a couple of months, he began to take it very serious.  Even if he was exhausted from a long week, he made sure he gave his very best.

As a proud dad and coach, in soccer he became known as "The Wall" by other coaches.  When he wasn't in goal, he was scoring goals.  I noticed he began to take his practices more serious.  He was practicing at home without being asked.  He was reading extra books to get the practice in.  It was amazing to see the results.  I also noticed the results in myself by simply asking him this question.  I also raised my game in areas that I wasn't as focused on.  I started a 90 Day Fitness/Weight loss challenge.

So, what does all this mean to you and your business?  Very simply, are you giving your best to your staff, clients, vendors and YOURSELF?  Are you prepared to put in the hard work to become a master.  Very few people ever become a master at anything because it requires such hard work.  Nothing can replace the hours and practice that are put in behind the scenes.  You know the ones, the ones that no one sees.  If you live in the US and follow the NBA, you have seen this first hand.  Many players that we are used to seeing perform at a high level, didn't do so this year because of the shortened training camps due to the lock out.  They didn't condition their bodies and take the massive number of shots that they usually take in training camp.  Excellence is not something you can just turn on.

I challenge you to ask yourself to give your very best daily for the next 90 days.  I'd love to hear your success stories because if you do this, you will take your game to a whole 'nother level.

To your success,