A while back I was driving to work and listening to a Zig Ziglar CD (yes, I listen to motivational speakers in the car. Go ahead and laugh, my family always does ).
Anyways he told the audience to think about all of the tasks that they had to complete the next day at work. For many of them, he said, the list would be long and grueling. It might even run into the next day, or keep them at the office late. Everyone seems to be so busy these days.
Then he told the audience to imagine that they were at work the next day, plowing through their to-do list, trying to finish each oh-so-important task, and then that they received a call from a loved one or a friend. That friend would then inform them that they had won a trip to the Bahamas! An all expenses paid for, week long getaway of rest and relaxation.
The catch is, you have to leave that afternoon. Ziglar goes on to tell the audience, “I bet you’d finish that to-do list pretty quickly after that phone call.”
After this week, I can attest . . . Zig Ziglar was right.
Abel Foods, which was formally known as Skeebers, then McArthur Foods and now Abel Foods with the first product known as Skeebers (took some time but I think we’re done with the identity crisis), was recently presented with a great opportunity to sell its product and get some exposure. The ASU Homecoming Tailgate party would draw in thousands of people before the big game and seemed like a great first event for the new start-up.
The only problem was . . . The to-do list to get Abel Foods ready for an event on that scale was a mile long – literally (I sat in the car and said each thing I needed to do out loud and it took AT LEAST one mile to get it all out).
The company needed a logo, a website, marketing materials, tag-lines, and well I guess you could just say it needed an identity in general. It needed to:
- nail down the recipes they would use,
- make sure they even tasted good,
- decide on what types of sauces to make and actually figure out how to make them,
- buy all the equipment necessary in order to make and serve food for thousands of people,
- figure out how to take an old family recipe and multiply it by a hundred and then make all the finished product taste the same,
- figure out how to get all of that equipment to and from ASU
- AND follow all of the health codes required of vendors at the event.
Up until this last week Abel Foods only existed in the conference rooms of the Sky Song building- where young entrepreneurs made big plans and then walked out only to realize that they also had full-time jobs, full-time school, part-time student government, and a wedding to plan. Needless to say the big plans always seemed to go to the bottom of the list. Until there was a little motivation.
That motivation somehow caused every single task to get done. The identity issue was solved by contacting the right website and design company: iGravity Design. But that decision alone took some time. They did a great job of figuring out what we wanted and then making it happen quickly.
We had them create a great logo for Abel as well as product cards for Skeebers and a beautiful banner that we can now use for the many future events we will be doing. They also put together a simple website that we can use until we decide to do something more in depth.
Everything else got done as a result of my being surrounded by amazing people that can recognize when I have bitten off more than I can chew – partly because they see me do it so often – and then automatically come to the rescue.
My future in-laws are incredible and go out of their way to help anyone and by fiance is always there for me. Also my father and grandfather spent the whole event as our cooks and they did an amazing job. Practically everyone I know became consultants as I asked them about tag-lines, colors, fonts, and methods for cooking and serving the product.
In the end, the event was a great success. Half way through we found out we weren’t supposed to be selling out product there . . . oops. But you know what they say, it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. And when you ignore the guy who told you to stop selling the product in the first place, it may also be a good idea to give him some free Skeebers when you apologize the second time .
Zig Ziglar is definitely right, it is all about motivation. And when your trip to the Bahamas comes along – most of the time – you’ll find a way to get it all done.
I’d go into more detail on how all of the many, many hours of preparation went and perhaps even fill you in on some of the funny, and not so funny experiences we had along the way. But after building a brand in a week, even with all of the help I had . . . I’m just too dang tired. I’m just gonna go have some Skeebers and take a nap ha ha ya right . . . naps are for losers – I’m going to do some homework! (no joke, I am)
“The first rule of any technology used in business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
When we do something as a human being automatically we call it a habit. Often times we acquire a habit without even trying. And almost as often we acquire habits that are not necessarily “efficient” – a bad habit.
When we read a quote like the one above from Bill Gates, it is easy to see the words technology, business, and efficiency and quickly assume that if you don’t so business with technology in either an efficient or inefficient matter then it doesn’t apply to you.
The truth is the quote above, and many others on a diverse range of subjects can apply to every facet of your existence.
In realizing that if you apply automation, or a habit, to something that is inefficient, or “bad” in general, you will only magnify that inefficiency or “bad action;” one can then be sure to consciously avoid bad habits, and inefficient automation.
Each and every sliver of wisdom, no matter the subject it relates to can offer each of us something valuable.
True principles can be applied to all situations, and they always (usually) work..
I recently received an email from one of my mentors from the Edson Initiative commenting on Steve Jobs’ life. It mentioned something that I found to be especially important- that Jobs “was a sponge” and learned something from everything he came into contact with- and that, I think, is one of the main factors in personal and professional success for any person.
The ability to learn from everything that one comes into contact with may not seem like that hard of a task. We inevitably learn some type of lesson when we experience a challenge or get lucky and succeed.
However the real value lies in learning from each and every experience – good or bad- and then compounding the knowledge you learned in the past with what you learn with each new experience.
With money, compounding interest means that when interest is added to the principle, from that time on, the interest that has been added can then also gain interest itself. When repeated over a long period of time the results of compounding can be astonishing.
For example if you were to ask a child whether they would prefer to receive $10,000 per day for 30 days OR one penny per day, that doubles in value every day, for 30 days, what do you think they would choose?
A child would most likely jump at the $10,000 per day, however, one who understands compounding interest would choose the doubling penny. The reason being the $10,000 a day would end up being $300,000 at the end of the month while the doubling penny ends at
Compounded learning works in the same way. You take what you’ve learned from each new experience and add it to your principle knowledge, thus building on the new, more intelligent foundation every day and with every new experience. The results of compounded learning can be quite astonishing as well.
Every job, homework assignment, new acquaintance, business meeting, boring class, etc., presents an opportunity to learn something new.
The secret is . . . actually caring enough to realize the lessons you are learning. Then adding them to the principle, and building upon the whole thing.
It’s a simple concept that -like most simple things in life- is complicated and difficult to put into practice.
Steve Jobs had it figured out, and I’d say compounded learning served him well. I think it’s a concept we should all try and put into practice.
Tell me about experiences you’ve had that you have been able to learn something from, and even continue building on after learning it. Do you think compounded learning is good description of how we can learn from everyday and experiences? If not, whats a better way to describe it?
Does God want you to be rich?
That’s a question – like most related to religion – that doesn’t come with a simple answer. So what about the question, does God bless entrepreneurs? Does having a religious background and faith in God aid the budding entrepreneur?
Most of the time the main goal of an entrepreneur is to in the end, strike it rich. Of course they may also want to change the world for the better, solve some of the world’s most trying problems, and make a difference in people’s lives, but let’s face it . . . they want to make money in the process.
Quotes from the Bible can lead the seeker of an answer to this trying question in multiple directions. Jesus Christ said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt 19:24). And, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt 6:19-20).
Those statements may lead one to believe that being rich shouldn’t be the goal of one who claims to have an ernest desire to please God. However there are others that may relay quite the opposite.
In Deuteronomy, believers are commanded to, “remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth”(Deut 8:18). The Old Testament is full of references like this, praising God for providing a good life. If one chooses to place more emphasis on these references, and to understand Christ’s statements not as a condemnation of being wealthy but as a warning as to the possible consequences of having wealth, then it is quite possible that God would bless the faithful entrepreneur.
There are many that prescribe to the belief that God wants his people to be prosperous. It has been deemed the “Prosperity” belief in the U.S. and mega-churches like famous preacher Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church in Houston, Texas preach it each and every Sunday to large audiences. The idea that doing good will in turn bring goodness into your life, even monetarily, is one that seems to be attractive to many Americans.
However there are other pastors like Rick Warren, author of, The Purpose Driven Life, that don’t agree with the idea that God rewards his followers with wealth and prosperity.
In a Time Magazine article in 2006 Warren said, “You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”
There seems to be a hint of irony in the fact that the pastors that are arguing about whether God rewards his followers in a way that can be measured on this earth have both sold millions of books and are wealthy entrepreneurs themselves.
In reality, entrepreneurship isn’t all that different from evangelism. It occurs when somebody is totally committed to bringing a vision into reality, even if their vision doesn’t reflect the norms of society. The entrepreneur and the evangelist believe that they have something that everyone else needs, even if everyone else doesn’t know they need it yet.
In an essay on self-reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To believe in your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction and it shall be the universal sense, for always the inmost becomes the outmost, and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the last judgements.”
So, does God bless entrepreneurs? Does God want you to be rich?
That’s one thing you’re going to have to decide for yourself. However, if entrepreneurship and evangelism go hand in hand, this entrepreneur may just pick up his Bible a little more often . . . It can’t hurt, right?
This moring I was driving to work while talking to my boss on my blackberry, while emailing the co-founder from my start-up on my iPhone when the president of ASU (my other boss) called to tell me that there was a conference call for the Arizona Students’ Association (I’m on the board) tonight at 5 pm.
My other boss, the chief of staff for a U.S. Congressman called back to let me know he’d meet me at 2 pm to drive to Tucson for a meeting at which our boss would address over a thousand people. I kinda have to be there. when I got to work there were 20 alerts on the software that organizes my casework and 15 voicemails that I needed to respond to, not-to-mention the 22 emails that I had been ignoring all weekend and the other 6 emails on my school email address, and 5 on my personal email.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. In life there is a lot of stuff to do. Sometimes you can’t do it all, but most of time – You Can. Here’s how:
Step One: Get Organized. It may seem like the most obvious step, but it really is the most important. Knowing what you have to do and when you have to do it by is some of the most valuable information there is. It doesn’t matter what you use to do it just make sure you always have it with you and you update it constantly. Try Evernote.
Step Two: Get Specific. Complete specific tasks in specific time frames. Sit down and tell youself you will finish responding to all your emails in 30 minutes. Or finish that research paper for school in 2 hours. Make the time frame realistic, but push yourself. Try Stay Focused.
Step Three: Eliminate. Realize that sometimes, not everything will get done. Find the tasks that you know aren’t truly important and eliminate them. This may entail cancelling meetings, getting a bad grade on one assignment, or delegating a task to someone else that you would really rather do youself. But if you don’t do this, other more important things will be left undone at the end of the day.
So back to my morning. I immediately made a note in evernote outlining all of the “to do’s” I had for today.
Then I made a few reminders on my iPhone calender that gave me a specific amount of time to finish responding to my emails, calling people back, working on my casework, doing 5 or 6 quick assignments for school, and of course going to Tucson.
Lastly, I had to eliminate a few tasks. I called the president back and told him I couldn’t make the conference call or the executive board meeting that night and although he didn’t sound happy, he understood. I told my co-founder I couldn’t make the mixer for the Edson Initiative but asked that he attend in my place. And finally I decided that quite a few of those emails could wait until the next day.
So there you have it. When you are juggling a million things to do and a million places to be, remember to stop and go through these three steps. If you do, you may just avoid dropping the ball.
With the failure of green energy poster child Solyndra – even after the California-based company received a $528 million taxpayer investment — the question being asked in many circles is whether the green industry is a smart investment for either the public or private sector.
Scottsdale-based ReNature, which recently received a grant from Arizona State University’s Edson Entrepreneurship Initiative, believes its venture and green industry as a whole is a worthy investment for multiple reasons.
Like many in the new “green industry” Metoyer and his team at reNature want to take something traditionally seen as a liability – like trash – and through natural processes turn it into an asset.
“We want to work with nature’s systems and add value to something that is usually worthless,” said Metoyer. “We want to commercialize nature.”
In recent years there have been many companies that have had a similar creed to that of Scottsdale based reNature. However, like Solyndra, many of them have not been able to make it through many of the hurdles that every start-up business faces.
At a hearing last week, Jonathan Silver, director of the Department of Energy’s energy loan office said that factors such as China flooding the market with cheap solar panels and a tough European market has cause solar-cell prices to drop sharply, significantly hurting companies like Solyndra.
When Solyndra filed for bankruptcy earlier this month the company was forced to lay off over 1,000 employees.
So, the question that remains to be answered is, how can green companies stay out of the red?
Metoyer and his team at reNature believe that they have a green model that is truly sustainable, economically and environmentally.
First of all, reNature is “going for the low hanging fruits now,” Metoyer said.
In other words, the venture is entering the industry carefully, fully aware that there are some “green” business models that can survive now, and some that cannot.
“We need to make sure that any new green company makes business sense,” said Will Heasley, director of business development for reNature.
“It has to be economically viable – you have to find a method that makes sense financially,” said Metoyer.
This type of cautious entry into the market is something that other companies should mimic, said Metoyer. He believes that the American consumer may not be ready for all of the green products that are being introduced.
“They (consumers) say, ‘as much as I want to be environmentally conscious, I have to make sure I have enough money to simply keep living’,” said Metoyer.
And as for companies that “go green” as a way to look good in the public eye, Metoyer says, “It has to be more than doing something green to get good press – It has to be more than PR.”
Another question that green ventures need to ask themselves is “the technology may exist, but does it exist at the right scale?” said Metoyer. “Many times the answer is no, it doesn’t.”
The failure of Solyndra and other green companies goes to show that even with massive help from the federal government, being green does not guarantee profitability.
Nevertheless, many believe there is a market for clean and sustainable industry, but like any other market it’s one that must be entered cautiously, said Metoyer.
“Every new company has to look at the triple bottom line,” said Metoyer. “What effects it will have economically, socially, and environmentally.”
Solar-Panel Photo: http://www.solyndra.com/
Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung own Sweet Republic, an ice-cream shop in Scottsdale. But they weren’t always entrepreneurs in the Arizona Desert, in another life; they worked for Citi Group as investment bankers in New York City.
Like many Americans, the tragedy of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 prompted them both to take a good hard look at where their lives were headed.
“9/11 was one of those events that affected everyone,” said Wichayanuparp. “It made me re-evaluate and think, is this really what I want to do?”
Wichayanuparp was in 7 World Trade Center when five hijackers crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the north tower of the World Trade Center and shortly after, United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower.
She was evacuated from her building and later that afternoon, it collapsed from the weight of the debris.
Being so close to the towers that were hit and inside the third tower to collapse was an experience she’ll never forget, said Wichayanuparp.
“You have to take advantage of every moment and every opportunity you’re given in life. Because you never know when it all ends for you.”
In all, 2,977 people lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. It was an event that affected all Americans in some way, causing everyone to stop and look at where they were headed and why they were going in that direction.
After witnessing the attacks on the World Trade Centers first hand, Wichayanuparp and Yung decided that it was time for them to change direction, and do so in a big way.
In 2002 Yung left her job as a banker to attend Le Cordon Bleu culinary arts school in Sydney, Australia. She then worked in a restaurant in Berkley, Calif. and began developing her own unique culinary style that included incorporating local ingredients into her food.
Wichayanuparp continued to work as a banker until the pair met up again in Hong Kong and decided to move to Scottsdale, where Wichayanuparp had family, in order to start their ice-cream shop.
“I have always been passionate about food, and I think that is where this stems from,” said Wichayanuparp.
Sweet Republic opened its doors in 2008, seven years after the events of 9/11. Now, the story of how the two ended up selling ice cream in Scottsdale is well known to employees and regular customers at Sweet Republic.
“9/11 was the catalyst for the owners to leave banking,” said Benita Sebastian, an employee at the shop. “They were so close to the World Trade Center when it happened. It still gives me chills when I think about their story.”
They have been holding the “first responder appreciation day” every year since the shop opened.
“I heard about it the first time four years ago when they started doing it,” said a paramedic enjoying his free scoop of ice cream on Sunday. “It’s just nice that they recognize some of the sacrifices that people make as we all recognize the sacrifices that were made that day ten years ago.”
Wichayanuparp and Yung have a special appreciation for the men and women that risk their lives for others every day.
“We got evacuated from the tower, and these were the guys going in when we were running out,” said Wichayanuparp.