Entrepreneurial Self Care: Don’t Sacrifice Health for the Wealth

I think in the entrepreneur/business world, hustle is often promoted even at the expense of taking good care of health. As if you’re going to be more on your game when sleep deprived, eating fried greasy food, and out of shape? I don’t buy into this myth and I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we know we can’t be as productive when we neglect health.

In the case of someone like myself who has a lot of restless, creative energy, but is given to distraction, exercise and eating healthy isn’t a luxury I can worry about once I’ve “made it.” It directly correlates with my mood and my performance at work.

My mind and my ability to problem solve is infinitely better when I’m physically active. This is one reason that I recently built myself a standing desk. And I work increasingly more on my phone.

The old days of making excuses for sitting around because I work in digital are obsolete.

I sit here typing this post on the locker room bench in the gym inspired and fueled by endorphins after a workout which followed a busy morning of prospecting on LinkedIn DM, follow up calls, and closing a new client.

No doubt in mind, this will power me through the rest of the day. This is the BEST way to start the morning and the week! 💪

Be the Bigger Person

Being the bigger person doesn’t mean you’re letting others walk all over you.

Quite the contrary.

Being the bigger person, not getting even, settling the score, or playing tit for tat gives you the leverage.

You win when you don’t dwell and instead focus on the positive. You don’t gain by being petty even when others let you down or mistreat you.

Business and entrepreneurship is a rough game that has forced me to grow in so many different ways and push past my perceived limitations daily. It’s not always easy, but I’m grateful for the process and the opportunity.

Every day is a small step forward.

Don’t Wait for them to Pick You

pick yourself

In What to Do When it’s Your Turn (and It’s Always Your Turn) renowned marketing consultant, author, and blogger, Seth Godin urges us to stop waiting around for the higher ups to pick us.

We live in a world where many people are waiting for their defining moment. Their big break. They are an overnight success story that simply hasn’t happened yet. We all know people who are waiting to be discovered. Waiting to be given a raise. Waiting for their boss to give them the corner office. Waiting for the agents, the labels, and the talent scouts to approach them with a lucrative deal. Sadly, like the uncoordinated kid in gym class, many of them are picked last and made to sit on the bench. Most are never even picked at all.

But, waiting your turn was more suited to the previous generation. Back then, we needed the gatekeepers to pick us. The gatekeepers have lost their power. Now, we can choose ourselves. New communications technology, such as smartphones and dramatic behavioral shifts in how we communicate and consume information has given rise to an entire class of individuals who have chosen themselves. The teenage tech entrepreneur. The YouTube star. The Instagram and SnapChat influencers. The stay-at-home mom who starts a 6-figure online business. Or, even the manager, the engineer, or fitness trainer who utilize free publishing platforms, like Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, and Instagram to build a following and establish credibility that helps them get promotions, higher-paying clients, paid speaking engagements, or raise money for their causes.

There’s no longer any reason to wait in line or cozy up to the bigwigs who had long been the barriers to entry. When mediums of communication and creativity are democratized, the people decide. The opinions of the publishers, creative directors, the editors, the record label executives and TV producers don’t carry as much weight as they used to. One can succeed with no prior experience, family connections, or friends in the industry. Some decry this turn of events and there is certainly a great deal of hand-wringing in many of these industries. But, the floodgates of opportunity have been opened and anyone who is bold enough, talented enough, and hardworking enough will win if they take advantage.

To be sure, this also leaves room for “fake news,” fake influencers, wannabe artists and entrepreneurs, and self-proclaimed gurus or thought leaders to proliferate and crowd the Internet with their noise. Still, the benefits outweigh the negatives, because only the best and most deserving will be heard. In an age when no one waits to receive an invitation and everyone can grab sit at the table, only some will eat their fill. The bar has been raised and one can no longer succeed long-term with output that lacks substance, authenticity, or quality.

So, what are you waiting for? Don’t wait for anyone to pick you. Pick yourself and go do it.

Your Excuses Aren’t Helping

I’m sure you have excuses for why you’re not yet where you want to be in life.

We all have excuses.

But, excuses don’t move you further toward your goals. Excuses don’t pay your bills. Excuses won’t help you win. While it may feel good in the short term, making excuses is distracting you from making progress.

In my line of work, I’m used to hearing people talk about wanting to grow their business or personal brand. They want more people to know about them. They want their phone to be ringing off the hook and the orders to be coming in. They want more customers or clients or more ideal customers or clients. They want to become more well-known or take their business to the next level. But, when they find out how much work is involved and how much time, money, and effort is needed to build a brand and grow an online presence, they’re not always up for it.

How do I get more customers? How do I get more awareness for my brand or company? How do I become the ‘go-to’ person for X, Y, or Z?

The answer is always the same. Put in the work.

It’s going to take a lot more work on top of whatever you’re already doing. The good news is that if you have a smartphone, it’s easier (and cheaper) than it was before to talk to the world, connect with others, and gain a following. The bad news is that there is more competing for our attention than ever before. The only way to be relevant and get on the radar screen of the people you’re trying to reach is by putting out content for social media and mobile devices that gets attention and provides value. Yes, it takes work to churn out blog posts, shoot vlogs, podcast, and connect with people on social media, especially if you can’t afford to hire a team that will do it for you. But, who said achieving success comes easily?

And because there is so much competing for our attention, it takes more effort to rise above the noise. It’s harder than ever to get people to pay attention to your ads and your content truly has to be quality as well as relevant and well-timed. Yes, it’s all hard, but it’s the only way. The only alternative is making excuses and wondering why nothing is happening.

If giving up is not an option, then stop making excuses and start taking action. Start doing. Start now.

Authenticity: What Does it Really Mean Anyway?

There’s a lot of talk about authenticity these days.

Every brand strives for it, especially on social media. We’re told millennials, in particular value it and expect it from the companies they do business with.

Aside from being a popular buzzword, what does ‘authenticity’ really mean? And what does it mean to be authentic?

Be genuine and up front.

Being authentic means not disguising or hiding your agenda. If you’re in it to make money, then don’t hide it. Be honest about your intentions. For example, don’t claim to be a conscious company like Tom’s Shoes if you’re only going to jack up the price above market value so that you can keep profit margins high. Don’t pretend to care about causes (or worse, tragedies) only in order to curry favor with your audience and make a buck. Authenticity means your brand only aligns itself with products, people, and causes that embody your values. Corporate responsibility is great, but please don’t pretend to give a f*#% if you don’t. Trying to put one over on your prospects and customers will only backfire. Everyone knows companies need to turn a profit so don’t hide it. Be real about your purpose and direction.

Give sincerely.

Unfortunately, one of the most common blunders in business (and other areas of life) is to give insincerely, or only in order to get something in return. Aside from being dishonest, this tactic is particularly ineffective, because people can often smell the insincerity and it turns them off from working with you. If you’re only helping others with a “what’s in it for me” mentality, people will notice right away or you will eventually be exposed.

The good news is brands who do a great deal more sincere helping than asking often win a great deal more sales than companies who don’t. We live in a word that is over-saturated with mediocre content and often tunes out ads mentally or with technologies such as Ad Block and fast-forwarding on DVR. Therefore, sharing engaging content that is relevant and educates, inspires, or entertains is the best way for a brand to stand out, grab attention, and stand head and shoulders above the competition.

It’s not “fake it till you make it.” 

We’ve all heard the expression, ‘fake it till you make it,’ but it’s not really the best strategy. Now, I’m not talking about trace amounts of imposter syndrome, which we all feel at times, particularly when we are at the start of our careers. I’m talking about posing as an expert before you are one. Today, becoming known and developing a brand is not only easier than ever before; it’s almost a necessity. Establishing thought leadership and credibility is valuable currency, but if you talk about things you don’t yet understand or fail to deliver on your big promises, you will later end up looking foolish and compromise your reputation.

So, stay in your lane and tell the true story of you or your brand. If you do one thing particularly well or have a great deal of knowledge about a subject, stick to creating content about that and don’t try to swim in waters that are above your head. And, if you don’t yet have an area of expertise, find ways to inspire or entertain others as a means to break through to the market.

Above all, be passionate and real and people will feel it. I’m not just espousing the cliche “be yourself.” Obviously, this is not the best idea in every case. What I am saying is be up front about your intentions, provide value in a sincere manner, and stick to what you know and care about, and you will come across as authentic and believable and people will want what you have to offer.

F*ck Being a Starving Artist: How Creatives Can Help Themselves

Recently, I was invited to speak on a panel about ways patrons of the arts could better support creatives (artists, musicians, writers etc.) in their communities. It was my first time public speaking and I was the youngest person on the panel, so I was understandably a bit nervous.

The questions from the moderator focused on what creatives would find helpful in terms of support as well as how their fans could best promote them and distribute their work.

Many wonderful ideas and suggestions were shared by my fellow panelists as well as by the very vocal crowd that evening. But, my answer was ridiculously simple, and — luckily — well-received by everyone present.

My message was this:

“Creatives need to learn how to help themselves.”

May not sound like such a novel idea, but unfortunately, many are not doing much to put themselves get out there. I think there are a couple reasons why this is the case.

 

Not sure how

For one thing, a super talented creative is not always entrepreneurial or business-minded just as an entrepreneur is not always so gifted in the arts. A person may have a great deal of skills and creative talent, but not may not be so educated or interested in the business side of things.

However, if a creative wants to have any hope of monetizing their art, they need to approach it like a business. No doubt, a great creative spends a lot of time making great art and honing their craft. But, a financially successful creative who makes a good living from their work also has to learn how to be their own best advocate.

 

Not comfortable with promoting themselves

The problem is many artists don’t feel comfortable selling themselves. They prefer to be “discovered.” They hope their work will speak for itself. I totally understand this, because I once thought the same way. Promoting myself seemed fake and kind of sleazy to me.

If you’re a creative struggling to get noticed, please listen to me. Advocating for yourself will not cheapen your art. It will not compromise your creativity. The patrons, talent scouts, and recording labels are not going to come knocking on your door. They aren’t coming to you. They don’t even know who you are and they don’t care. You need to give them reason to care or, better yet, just bypass them!

The traditional gatekeepers — radio stations, art galleries, television stations, magazines, book publishers etc. — no longer have a monopoly over deciding what creative gets out to the masses. Today, digital platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Medium, and Instagram allow you to easily connect to those who would appreciate your art and build a following.

The best part is you don’t even have to do much “self-promoting.” In fact, that’s not always a good idea, especially on social media where content that doesn’t provide value gets lost in the feed. Instead, share your genuine passion for what you do and authentically engage with your audience, no matter how big or small. And share regularly!

 

Fear of rejection

Perhaps, you create art for its own sake and you don’t care what other people think so long as you’re proud of it. If so, mazel tov! Good for you. You don’t have to show your art to the world or try to get it out there.

However, if you do want to earn some recognition and/or profit from your art, then you will have to just get over this one. There’s not much I can say other than don’t be afraid to face the market. If you’re paralyzed by fear, there’s no hope of getting off the ground.

 

Save your creativity for your art

First of all, you need to be on social media and you need to post content regularly. If you have any hang-ups or bugaboos about it, please try your best to get over them. Because, if you don’t have a presence on the major online platforms and channels where most consumer attention is directed (YouTube, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram etc.) and you don’t put out content that is mobile friendly, you essentially don’t exist. Time consuming? Yes. Worth it? Hell yes. So, make the time.

But, here’s the good news. You don’t have to be super creative in your branding and marketing. Save that for your art. And you don’t have to spend so much time trying to figure out what to create, share, or talk about. Simply document your creative process or your journey of trying to get your art out there and make your dreams come true. Don’t overthink it. Share your story. Share your work, show people how you do it, and engage, engage, engage!

Talk to your fans and interact with them even if you only have a handful. Directly message or tweet at those who might be interested in your stuff or who might be able to help you and offer them something of value in exchange. Don’t wait for people to come to you. Be proactive, go on the offense, and boldly seek others out. I’ve been doing this for about a year now and I promise you that it really works! In fact, I know that I’d be further along if I only did it more often.

 

F*ck being a starving artist

The stereotype of the “starving artist” is a harmful one and it needs to be done away with for good. Be your own best advocate. Go get what you want, actively pursue meaningful relationships, don’t be afraid to talk to people who can help you, engage with your followers, and share your stuff with the world! Enough sitting around waiting for the phone to ring or waiting to hear back from the publisher. Take matters into your own hands. This is the only way you’re going to get your stuff out there and find a market for your art, which will support you and enable you to spend more of your time creating and less time waiting.