Evan Carmichael is passionate about helping entrepreneurs. He built and sold a biotech software company at 19. He raised millions as a venture capitalist at 22. And then, he started EvanCarmichael.com as a website to help entrepreneurs. He is, by his own admission, “obsessed” with this passion.
His YouTube channel has millions of views and is the leading channel for entrepreneurs. You may have seen during one of his numerous media interviews or his many keynote speeches.
Recently, I caught up with Evan in Madrid, Spain. Having followed his career online, I wanted to learn more about the entrepreneurial mindset.
Even if we don’t own a business, what can we all learn from entrepreneurs? Here are a few lessons from Evan that inspired me. Since I am all about encouragement and empowerment, I wanted to share some of his most inspiring words.
6 Lessons from Entrepreneurs
All of us should:
Embrace the entrepreneurial mindset.
This is a mindset of dissatisfaction with the status quo, of solutions, of challenge, and of driving to a more sustainable, successful place.
“Entrepreneurs have a dissatisfaction of the world around us.” –Evan Carmichael
Some entrepreneurs bet everything, but you can be pragmatic. You can take measured bets. Evan’s take on risk was eye opening. He thinks it’s “crazy risky” to assume you will have your job for 25 years and that your company will still be around. “Why not bet on you?” is a challenge we should all learn from.
“Betting on yourself is one of the best bets you can make.” –Evan Carmichael
In all of the organizations I have had the privilege to lead, I am always thinking and focusing on culture. Culture, to me, is important both at home and at work. It is the engine that either limits potential or sustains success.
“Transforming culture is the real leadership work.” –John Mattone
John Mattone has been featured here before. He’s a leadership guru, a top-ranked CEO coach, and runs a top-ranked leadership blog. Whenever he contacts me, I know that I will learn something. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about his latest work.
“The culture you create and reinforce will determine your success.” –John Mattone
When you talk about cultural transformation, what are you referring to? Under what circumstances might a company look to transform its culture?
Always. The need to transform culture and ensure that you always have the culture in place to drive sustained operating success is a never-ending pursuit and business priority. A healthy, vibrant and mature culture will drive success and keep any organization “ahead of the curve.” So many factors are creating “disruption” in all sectors—digitization, globalization, and the need to operate at two-speeds (fast in emerging economies, slower in mature economies). Traditional differentiators like size, scope, legacy and market position are no longer differentiators. To stay ahead of the curve, CEO’s and senior teams must always be re-thinking, re-shaping, and reinventing their own purpose as well as the purpose of the enterprise. It is no longer about the company you want to create; it is now much more about the company that you must create.
Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission
“The need to transform culture is a never-ending pursuit and business priority.” –John Mattone
How do you define what is the right culture for your organization?
You have to be passionate and diligent about measuring everything. This is the 6th step of my Cultural Transformation Model. Measuring operating metrics is part of it. Measuring the effectiveness of your talent systems, your engagement levels, and getting views from your customers and suppliers, and actually measuring what’s working and not working in your culture are all critical. Ultimately, it’s about leveraging your strengths and gifts—the positive legacy aspects of your business (and culture) and addressing the “gaps” and having a laser-focus discipline is what’s required. Sometimes, the C-level team determines based on this “world of feedback” that the company must become more innovative. This will then lead to strategies on how to recruit and select talent who possess the capability to be agile, nimble and innovative. Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice in medicine. However, I would say the same principle applies in the world of corporate reinvention and renewal.
Copyright John Mattone and Nick Vaidya; Used by Permission
“A healthy, vibrant and mature culture will drive success.” –John Mattone
I was in Chicago for a conference. Early on my first morning there, I found myself exiting the elevator into the well-appointed lobby. Taking a few minutes to warm myself in front of a roaring fire, I braced myself for the cold wind outside. Leaving the hotel was essential to go a block or so to Starbucks where I could find a jolt of caffeine.
That’s when I saw him. As I got closer, I could see him panhandling. A well-dressed businessman silently crossed the street in order to avoid him. I discretely slipped a few bucks from my wallet before he saw me, depositing them into my front pocket. When he asked for some help, I responded with a smile and the money.
The same thing happened the next day.
But, the third day, I thought that this wasn’t working. “Hey, I already gave him money,” I said to myself, “And it’s not like it does any good.” So, I smiled, but kept walking.
How utterly ridiculous. How self-centered. How insensitive.
A few bucks would have helped him a great deal and meant little to me. I regret not giving him those dollars and even more.
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” –Lucille Ball
It got me thinking about other regrets. Sure, some people can live with the “No Regrets” mindset. I, on the other, take time each year to think about what I do regret, what I should have done differently, what I could have done but did not do. And, painful as it is, and somewhat embarrassing, I am sharing the top 10 of this year’s list with you. I don’t do this as a way to provide an impossible penance or pay a debt. I do it because it acknowledges what I want to change. Hopefully, it sparks something in me to be a better, more caring person. And maybe you, too.
“To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity.” –Bodhidharma
When I do this each year, it reminds me that, if I listen to my inner voice early enough, I will live life to its full. I will look back and not think of regret, but smile with a joy of knowing I did exactly what I was supposed to do.
“Listen to your inner voice early enough to change and live life to its full.” -Skip Prichard
What you’ll notice is that my regrets go in both directions. That’s because too much of one thing equals not enough of another. You will also notice that they start with “I.” Normally, I frown on writing with “I” because it is self-centered; however, this list is all about personal responsibility. And that always starts with I. Anything less would place blame where it should not be.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Larry Light about his new work. Larry is the CEO of Arcature LLC. He was a senior executive and board member at BBDO and President of the international division of Ted Bates. He was Global CMO of McDonald’s from 2002 to 2005. More recently, Light was the Global Chief Brands Officer of IHG.
Would you share the bad habits that inhibit brand building? I found myself nodding and think readers would find these compelling.
We identified 15 bad habits that impede organizations from building brands, regardless of industry, category, and geography. These habits are not stand-alone forces: there are two underlying connections among these, and these are enterprise culture and leadership. First, culture matters. When there is a conflict between culture and strategy, culture wins. Culture fights change. Culture fights for the status quo. Culture nurtures complacency. Second, brand leadership is different from brand management. Brand management is taught in business schools. Effective brand leadership is different. Brand management is about the execution of specific brand-building actions. Brand leadership is different. It is about getting the right results through the efforts of others. It is about educating, inspiring, influencing and evaluating. Effective leaders create results by getting others to do the right things to produce the right results. Effective brand leadership is top down. For example, none of the work we did at McDonald’s could have happened without the leadership of Jim Cantalupo and Charlie Bell. Nissan needed Carlos Ghosn. IBM needed Lou Gerstner. Popeye’s needs Cheryl Bachelder.
“Brand leadership is different from brand management.” -Larry Light
Focusing on Customers You Do Not Have at the Expense of Customers You Do Have
Failing to Keep the Brand Relevant
Price Segmentation Instead of Market Segmentation
Thinking the Lowest Price Is the Same as the Best Value
Failing to Instill a Quality Mind-Set
Focusing on the Short-Term Rather Than Creating a Short-Term/Long-Term Strategy
Not Sharing Across Functions, Geographies, and Brands
Believing the Regions Are Not as Sophisticated as the Center
Believing That Brand Management Is All About Marketing Communication
Allowing Data to Decide
The Most Insidious Bad Brand Building Habit
What’s the most common bad habit you have witnessed?
One that is becoming increasingly visible and insidious is the desire to satisfy the demands of Wall Street over satisfying the demands of customers. Ultimately, the sustainable source of cash flow comes from customers exchanging money for your offer. Financial engineering is not the basis for enduring profitable growth. Managing money is not the same as managing brands. Stock buybacks and increased dividends indicate that a company believes that investing in product and service development, innovations and brand-building will not yield satisfactory returns to shareholders. So, they just give cash back to shareholders and let them decide where to invest.
There are many articles about how to get people to sign up for email updates. Aimed at marketers, they cover topics ranging from pop-ups to providing incentives to a call to action.
Most don’t seem to cover the question why. Why should you sign up for an email of recent posts? If you have a favorite blogger, why would you choose to opt-in and receive email as well?
I thought about that recently and about this Leadership Insights blog. I decided to ask people why they subscribed and why they didn’t. I learned more from those who said they did not subscribe than from those who did.
Here are the top 7 reasons I was told people do NOT subscribe and my responses:
1. I get too much email.
Sure, you get too much email. We all do. But most email that is in this category is spam. If I opt-in, I want to get periodic emails that will encourage, inspire or teach me something. When someone has spent time reading, researching and writing, and I am interested, I am happy to get those emails.
Key Question: Do I get too much positive email?
Whatever your favorite hobby or topic, you can find an exceptional blogger writing about it and providing free updates.
“Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” -Elbert Hubbard
This is a flavor of too much email. In today’s world, so much is coming at us from social networks, phone calls, emails, texts, and everything else. One way to deal with it is tune out. I get that, and I do that.
Key Question: Are you more likely to achieve your goals with regular reminders?
Regular updates connect you to ideas in a powerful way. You are fueling your subconscious, revving up opportunities.
“Positive communication fuels your subconscious, readying you for opportunity.” -Skip Prichard
Sure, you do. It’s not even close to the same. You miss too much. Jim Rohn once said, “The book you don’t read won’t help.” That’s exactly right. The blog post you miss won’t help either. And, it is far more efficient and much easier to have an email sent to you than trying to remember what you viewed on your last visit and where you left off.
Even a single idea that makes you more effective, saves you time, increases your earning potential is invaluable.
Key Question: Do you want to miss the one idea that could change your year?
Find a blog and subscribe for a period of time. If you don’t find one thought, fact, or idea that you can use or refer to after two months, then drop the subscription.
4. Some of the topics don’t interest me.
Two things come to mind. First, it takes a second to delete it if you are not interested. Second, I have seen extraordinary benefits to reading widely. Someone once told me to make sure you are exposed to different ideas, different points of view. That will strengthen your arguments, challenge your thinking, and make you more empathetic. You will understand what someone else is thinking. And, if nothing else, you will never be at a loss at a party. Read as much and as widely as you can, and you will never be at a loss for good conversation.
Key Question: Do I want to miss everything because I don’t like something?
“The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinions.” –James Russell Lowell
I would be surprised if anyone did. Most people don’t realize that I don’t agree with all of the opinions expressed here either. That’s the point. When I was growing up, I learned a powerful lesson. If I agreed with a teacher, I did not learn because the conversation ended. But, if I disagreed and argued, I learned more than I ever thought possible. Adults would become animated, passionately defending a position. And, for me, that’s where I learned best. Here’s the other benefit. Often, it made me change my opinion. What if you are stuck in a mindset and changing that opinion is the key to your success?
Key Question: If I only listen to people who agree with me, am I any better off?
“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” –Leonardo daVinci
Now this one, I definitely understand! I am constantly worried about spam and receiving unwanted offers. Know that Leadership Insightsdoes not share your email with anyone. Another concern I have heard is that you may want to opt out later. The email from this blog includes an easy link at the bottom of each post so that you can unsubscribe, at any time, for any reason. It’s easy.
Key Question: Are you allowing a possible fear rob you of a definite benefit?
“Always do what you are afraid to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve heard this in various forms, and it stops me because I think, “No one really can feel that way!” Apathy is insidious. When I hear this, I am passionate in my response. I believe that everyone has the opportunity to improve, to do something great, and to serve a greater purpose. Of course, not many people tell me directly, “I cannot change.” Yet, that’s the feeling they are telling me.
Key Question: Are you more or less likely to get what you want with your current habits?
If you are not currently subscribing to blog email updates, I am asking you to change. Try it for 60 days. Not only do you have nothing to lose, but you will also be able to download my free ebook on Servant Leadership: Leading With Others in Mind. Making this small change in your weekly routine may give you just a bit more of an edge. And winning often happens right at the edge, where you are distinguished from the competition.