Larry BraunerI’ll share one of my idiosyncrasies with you, but promise you won’t laugh: Most people go to the library to find books — not me. When I accompany my kids to the library, I take my own books with me to read while waiting for them to finish.

Think that’s peculiar? I can assure you that there’s a totally rational explanation: It’s rare to find the trendy business books I like to read at a library. I’m much more likely to find them at a bookstore.

Still, my kids like to tease me about this seemingly odd behavior.

Looking for Trendy Business Books at the LibraryImagine my surprise when on a recent library visit, I found both Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel in the new arrivals section. Finding these books was a fluke, but nevertheless, I do plan to check back in that section in the future. ;-)

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Crush It!. The words of @garyvee helped to reinforce and refine my personal approach to business and social media branding. (I’m still in the middle of Six Pixels of Separation and liking it so far.)

Business developers are starting to approach me to explore joint ventures. They tell me how successful they are and then talk to me about changing my path, building a giant email list and making videos.

Gary, on the other hand, talks about building your personal brand through social media by being authentic and “delivering your content by video, podcast, or blog.” Being authentic guarantees to “differentiate you from everybody else, including those who share your niche or business model.”

Gary’s whole book resonated with me. However, his emphasis on building a personal brand around one’s passion got me to stop and reflect for several days about my own passion.

I realized that while I love social media, the web, and data crunching, I have a greater passion for helping people solve difficult problems. Throughout my career, I’ve been happiest when solving business problems has been at the core of my work.

Gary Vaynerchuk writes that loving your family, working super hard and living your passion are the keys to success. What’s your passion, and are you building your personal brand and future around that passion?

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More Critical Success Factors

This time last year I posted on my blog 10 Simple Success Strategies for 2008. My strategies for 2009 are net very simple, or in any case, they’re not easy.

We were already aware that the mortgage crisis would badly hurt American home owners and the real estate industry, but few people realized that the crisis would quickly snowball into a major global recession.

While I stand by last years recommendations and believe that they are valid today, I feel that I need to add new critical success factors to the mix for 2009.

  1. Be flexible. What worked in the past may no longer work in the present economy. You may have to make some tough personal or business choices going forward.
  2. Focus on your finances. Spend less. Earn more, even if it’s difficult, and even if you have to compromise and do something that’s less than perfect for you. Pay down your credit cards, even if you have to sell some belongings. That’s the advice Dave Ramsey gives in his excellent book, The Total Money Makeover.
  3. Be cautious and use common sense. I hate to sound like a broken phonograph record, but while it is important to earn more, don’t fall prey to someone else’s hedge against recession. Before you invest substantial time or money, read Home Based Businesses Don’t Work and The Darker Side of Funded Proposals.
  4. Persevere. I noticed this year how many people failed to follow through on important plans and prematurely abandoned their blogs and social media projects they had started. Perhaps in some of the cases they should have done more soul searching beforehand, but on the whole I think people get frustrated and quit before their work has a chance to bear fruit. If you think you might lack motivation or need encouragement, create a support system for yourself or work closely with a mentor to whom you can be accountable.
  5. Reach out multiple ways. Network with people online and offline using online business and social networking sites and your local Small Business Association, Chamber of Commerce or BNI. Besides my new social networking site and other Ning social networking sites, I strongly recommend Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Connect to me at all these sites and let me know how I might be able to help you. It might be useful to you to visit Social Networking vs. Advertising, especially if you have never before seen that post.
  6. Develop expertise that will serve you now and in the future. In The 80/20 Rule I wrote, “Expertise is a valuable asset when it comes to personal branding. As an expert you can teach and mentor others and differentiate yourself from your competition.” I went on to explain that with a medium amount of reading, studying and experimentation, you can learn more about a subject than 80% of other people.
  7. Smile and laugh as much as you can. Laughter is good for you and for the people around you.
  8. Prepare not only for the recession, but also for afterward. These tough economic times won’t last forever. Think how you might be able to position yourself down the road to profit from the many new possibilities which will emerge in a couple of years.
  9. Keep the faith. No matter how hard life gets, don’t give up hope. Persist as best you can and be ready to start over. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities.
  10. Subscribe to my blog if you’re not yet a subscriber. I have a lot planned, and we can face 2009 together.

Now it’s your turn to share your ideas. Please feel free to comment.

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This post is somewhat longer than usual. Sorry for that, but I put a lot of work into it. I hope you like it.

Last Wednesday during my regular bi-weekly business mentoring tele-conference I revealed several powerful business success secrets.

While I was specifically addressing entrepreneurs, small business owners and sales professionals, these principles apply to all people and to all areas of our lives, not only business success.

Have you noticed? The year 2008 is half over.

Near the end of 2007 I posted Personal Development: 10 Simple Success Strategies to “help turbo charge your personal development in the New Year”. This may be worth re-reading if some of your goals and objectives have lost much of their earlier inertia.

Commitment

What are you committed to?

Mike Hernacki in The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want wrote:

“In order to accomplish something, you must know what you want and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.”

It sounds too simple, doesn’t it? However, it is your intention and commitment that set The Law of Attraction into motion on your behalf.

Want proof?

Reflect back on your most important accomplishments, such as raising a child, getting a college degree, running a marathon, starting a business, or developing an Internet presence, and you’ll agree that your commitment to your success was absolute.

It wasn’t that you felt obligated. Rather you felt that the goal was extremely important to you, and that you would deal with any obstacle that might arise — without knowing in advance exactly what would be demanded of you on your way to success.

Without total commitment The Law of Attraction would have probably delivered an obstacle that you would not have been willing to handle, and you would have failed.

This success secret is so important that I’ve read Mike Hernacki’s timeless book about a dozen times over the past decade.

Acquiring New Skills

I am commited to ongoing personal development and acquisition of new knowledge and skills. I read mind expanding books, blogs and e-books.

Your objective may require the mastery of new skills – or it may not. Your willingness to do what it takes is what really matters. If new skills are required, then you must be ready and willing to learn them.

Working Hard

You may be required to apply a great amount of effort. When I wanted to run the New York Marathon in 1984, strenuous preparation was absolutely necessary. In 1985 that was still true but to a lesser extent, since I had maintained a high level of fitness in the interim.

Tenacity and Persistence

Let’s bring this home.

You want to develop a presence at one of your favorite social networking sites – or you want to write a blog – or you want to build an Internet presence. These objectives usually require a high degree of tenacity.

So often people abandon online social networking, blogging or social media optimization without realizing their objectives. They weren’t willing to persist. Perhaps their belief system was weak.

I have been social networking online for many years. I have continuously posted to this blog for nearly eight months.

Why?

I know what I want, and I’m willing to persist until I achieve it.

Belief

As I stated in Personal Development: The Law of Belief, “Our motivation and how we act is determined by our underlying beliefs.

“If we don’t believe that something is possible, we won’t even try to make it happen. Please listen to a conference call I recorded on 8/22/07 that illustrates this concept.”

A healthy belief system is critical to success in business and life.

Treat Your Business Like a Business

Production

Showing up counts for something, but it doesn’t count for enough.

Success in business and life depends on producing value either directly or indirectly through people you influence.

If you have a job and don’t produce, you won’t get very far, and sooner or later you won’t have a job.

If you have a business and don’t produce, you won’t have money in the bank.

If you don’t come through for people, you won’t have their friendship.

You must make a positive contribution in order to be successful.

One way to ensure that you’re productive is to set daily or weekly goals or benchmarks.

For example, let’s suppose you’re in sales. You need to make six product sales per month to meet your business objectives. In order to make six sales, you need to make 15 presentations. To get 15 appointments, you’ll need to speak to 60 people.

You work about 20 days per month. On average you will have to speak to three people per day in order to speak to 60 per month.

Your benchmark or goal becomes three a day. If you focus on 3+ per day with consistency, you will likely make your six product sales per month.

You’ve succeeded at breaking down your abstract monthly goal into concrete daily actions.

Diversification

Big corporations employ a wide variety of media and messages to bring their product to market. They advertise on television, radio, in print and through direct mail. They experiment with many versions of their ad copy.

You cannot do everything a giant company can do, but why not learn from their example?

If you use half a dozen methods to reach out to your potential clients, you’ll enjoy these benefits:

  • You’ll achieve success with some approaches, even if others fail.
  • You’ll attract a wider variety of clients than using a single method.
  • You’ll be able to see which methods perform better relative to each other, so that you can refine your marketing plan.
  • You’ll lower your overall risk through diversification.

Here are some of my favorite marketing channels:

Over time you’ll develop your own favorite marketing channels if you haven’t already done so.

Tracking and Analysis

If you want to make informed business decisions, you must track your results and analyze your data. If you can’t do it yourself, then you must get an expert to do it for you or show you how to do it.

Tracking and analysis are not something optional.

Let me ask you, would you even consider driving your car with your eyes shut?

You can’t afford to run your business with your eyes shut or even partially covered.

Cost per Acquisition

One of the most basic marketing measurements is cost per acquisition, the amount that you’re spending on average to complete a sale using each marketing method. Simply put, it’s the total spend divided by the total number of sales.

It is important to consider your staff costs including your own time, not just the out-of-pocket expenditures for design and media.

Cost per acquisition is an excellent way to compare marketing channels, but there is one very important caveat. Customers from one marketing channel may be more valuable than from another. Therefore marketers must take into account customer long term value, the other side of the equation.

Customer Long Term Value

Customer long term value can be difficult to calculate, but it is generally approximated as the income you expect to earn from a customer over a 12 to 24 month period. If your business is on the risky side, lean towards 12 months. If it is very stable, then 24 months may be appropriate.

To be successful, cost per acquisition cannot exceed customer long term value. It ought to be less.

Trend Data

You can also track your performance or the performance of your staff. Trending performance data and marketing data over time will help you see the bigger picture.

Masterminding and Mentoring

As stated in my post Even Mentors Need Mentors, “I learn from reading many books, e-books and blogs, and from speaking frequently with friends and mentors. Having mentors has greatly shortened my learning curve.”

Masterminding with your peers and seeking out mentors will help you as much or more than any other single strategy mentioned in this article.

Please feel free to comment and share those strategies that have made the biggest difference in your business and personal endeavors.

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I promised in my recent post on The Law of Belief that you would hear more from me on the subject of changing beliefs. I said that I would discuss replacing disempowering beliefs with empowering ones.

I’m not ready for a broad treatment of the subject. However, after Robin’s touching comment I feel compelled to write something more without delay.

Robin’s words inspired me to pick up and re-read one of my favorite books, The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want, written by Mike Hernacki in 1982.

What is “the ultimate secret”?

Know what you want and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

This is called intention. It is tied in with commitment and is one of the critical success factors.

Please, don’t say “duh” or tell me it’s merely a matter of semantics.

Most people have difficulty with either the “know what you want” part or the “be willing to do whatever it takes” part of the principle, and Hernacki’s book addresses this difficulty. The book also explains how the Law of Attraction comes into play.

The Ultimate Secret has been in and out of print a number of times since its publication in 1982. I suggest you buy it now while it’s available. Over the years I have repeatedly bought and given away copies of this book to my friends. I read it myself over and over again and grow from it each time I do so.

In connection with Robin’s remarks, I want to focus on the “willing” part of the formula.

Mick Hernacki says that we must have a sense or a belief from the outset that we will be able to handle anything that comes our way — “whatever it takes”. All accomplishment stems from this particular form of belief even if we’re not consciously aware of it.

Here’s the good news as I see it.

We don’t have to line up all our beliefs like ducks in a row to be successful. the only belief we need to succeed at something is the belief that we can handle whatever challenge that might arise with respect to that one objective. One empowering belief can bring enormous success even if our overall belief system is far from perfect in other respects.

When I prepared to run the New York City Marathon in 1984 and 1985, I knew precisely what I wanted — to complete the marathon.

I assure you that I didn’t have my act together at all. However, I did have confidence that I’d be able to overcome all obstacles — discouragement from friends, athletic injuries, rain, snow, cold weather, hot weather, lack of sleep, and whatever would come my way.

I did just that.

I even dealt with severe leg cramps both years towards the end of the race.

What a wonderful accomplishment this was! I even have a picture from 1985 which I may very well scan some day and post online for my readers to gawk at.

So my advice to you is to know what you want. Be passionate about it. Be open-minded too. And believe that you will handle whatever challenges lie in your path. Your eventual success is assured.

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We both know that consistency is important. We’ve heard it over and over since we were kids. But just how important is it?

Obviously if we take no action we go nowhere.

But what if we have a bias for action? How much do we benefit?

We benefit in two ways:

  1. Multiplication of Effort. Can you learn a foreign language or a difficult subject in 30 minutes? You can if it’s 30 minutes per day. That’s 15 hours per month or 180 hours per year. Over the course of the year you gradually master the language or the concepts that you’re studying.
  2. Compounding of Results. If you’re a social networker, here’s where you get a big payoff. Every person you meet knows other people. The bigger your network grows, the more people who you don’t know will reach out to you to connect. You apply the same constant effort, yet your results increase exponentially.

When I first joined the LinkedIn community, I spent time each day seeking out and adding new contacts. Today I have more than 2,000 direct contacts and a LinkedIn network of nearly eight million people. Do you think I still need to look for people to invite?

Perhaps I should, but I get a half a dozen requests per day sitting back and doing nothing. People are easily finding me through my existing contacts, because I took the time to build a large network.

No matter what you’re looking to accomplish, why not break it down into small daily actions as I suggest in Critical Success Factors?

Establish daily benchmarks for yourself. Meet one person per day. Walk a mile or two. Save a few dollars. Give something to charity. You get the idea.

Multiply your daily effort by the number of days in a month or in a year, and you’ll be astonished at your potential for achievement. Add compounding of results or compounding of interest, and your consistent effort will have a profound effect on your life, as well as the lives of the people who matter the most to you.

Get started now, and please remember, as Mike Litman says, You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going!”

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More Critical Success Factors

In my previous post, The Go-Giver, I discussed a new book, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, which introduces The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success. These laws pertain primarily to the relationships essential to business and life success.

In another favorite post, 10 Simple Success Strategies, I suggested techniques for coping with day-to-day challenges.

In this post I want to present four laws of success that are psychological, spiritual and metaphysical in nature.

  1. The Law of Belief. Our motivation and how we act is determined by our underlying beliefs. If we don’t believe that something is possible, we won’t even try to make it happen. Please listen to a conference call I recorded on 8/22/07 that illustrates this concept.
  2. The Law of Expectation. This is briefly mentioned in the second chapter of The Go-Giver. Our subconscious minds manifest that which we focus on.
  3. The Law of Attraction. This is the essence of The Secret book and video. The universe manifests that which we focus on. This is the spiritual or metaphysical counterpart of the Law of Expectation.
  4. The Law of Appreciation. By recognizing the good in our lives, we show the universe that we’re ready to attract and receive more good. Appreciation accelerates the re-ordering of things and events in the universe, so that good comes to us easily and swiftly.

It’s The Law of Belief that determines how we think, what we focus on, how we act. It determines everything!

Belief is the missing ingredient without which all great ideas, books and courses change nothing. And that’s why all the fantastic personal development books have little or no effect on our lives. Our belief systems are strongly entrenched, and we are unable to assimilate and integrate what we learn.

There is hope, however, as I’ll explain soon in a future post. I promise.

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Critical Success Factors

With 2008 right around the corner let me share some simple strategies that can help turbo charge your personal development in the New Year.

Each idea stands alone. Use one or use them all. Add your comments to this post to share your own personal insights and success tips.

  1. Power down your computer. Take a break. Stop e-mailing and messaging. Tackle the important things waiting for you offline. Meet with people. Make important phone calls. Get some exercise.
  2. Prioritize. Before you go to bed ask yourself, “What can I do tomorrow that will take my business or personal life forward?” Write six or more things you can accomplish the next day on an index card and rank them in order of importance. The following day get the top six things done in the order of importance. Follow this formula for 30 days, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
  3. Acquire mentors. The most successful people know better than to go it alone. Be willing to accept advice, to stretch and to change. Your mentors might coach you one-on-one, in a group, or through their speaking or writing. Like a computer you need good programming and input to produce good output. I have several mentors and advisors including more than one close friend and a senior manager at the corporation where I work.
  4. Meet new people online and offline and really get to know them.
  5. Profit in the margins. Supposing you earn $60,000 per year which is $5,000 per month. If you can increase your earnings or cut your expenses by $250 per month that would reflect 5% of your income. However if your current savings or disposable income is $500 per month, the additional $250 would give you 50% more to work with. You can save it, pay down credit cards, or buy a new outfit.
  6. Start a home business, a sensible one, to increase your income. Choose a mentor to guide you and help you. You can only work so many jobs, so you need a way to leverage your time. As your business grows, so will the leverage it affords you. But beware. Before you start a home business you ought to read Home Based Businesses Don’t Work and The Darker Side of Funded Proposals.
  7. Exercise moderately almost every day. It is so easy to get busy and push it off. I’m adding walking to my daily list of priorities effective immediately.
  8. Be grateful for all the good in your life. Don’t let unfulfilled desires negate all the good. If you are reading this post, be grateful that you can. Take a deep breath right now and appreciate that you are alive. I appreciate you!
  9. Praise the people in your life. They need it. They crave it. Don’t criticize. Spread around more of your love, and it will come back to you with interest.
  10. Give to charity, a little or a lot according to your means. It will help you as much as it helps the receiver.

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