Probably the hardest thing for an entrepreneur to do is nothing. Yea, some people will have to read that again. Others won’t believe it and say, “Who can not do nothing?”
After I sold Fat Atom in March of 2017, I was at a low. Again, a paradox I know. After working tirelessly since September of 1999, 18 years of 60+ hours weeks, countless headaches, employee issues, close to financial ruin not once, but twice and the ups and downs of getting, keeping and losing clients…and all of a sudden I thought had no meaning.
If you haven’t been in that situation before, let me describe it like this. It’s like you are a race car driver driving at 230 mph and you lock of the brakes and your car stops. You get out of the car and hand someone the keys. The next day you wake up, and you don’t have anything to drive. Sure you are still a race car driver, but without a car.
Back to my story.
So I get a check, they get a business to run. I wake up the day after the sale of my business and what do you think I do? I go to the office of course. I still own the building and still have an office there…seems logical right? Well that doesn’t last long. Employees still came to me with questions. What should we do about this client? Where are we at with that prospect? Why aren’t the new owners doing it the way you did it? I could tell very quickly I needed to not be close to the business….but it’s all I have known. Hence the problem.
So what transpires next? We decide to sell our house, move to NC, buy a much bigger house, sell our little boat, buy a much bigger boat and start 2 new businesses all within the first 6 months after selling our business. Damn it to hell if I could go back in time.
What advice would I give myself?
Easy. BE STILL.
Take a vacation. Relax. Focus on doing nothing. Clear your mind. Dream.
BUT DON’T ACT.
Selling a business is a lot like divorce. It is a major life changing event. You wouldn’t go out and buy a sports car, get a new girlfriend and buy a timeshare the day after the papers are signed…or at least you shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t do anything after you sell your business.
You need time to reflect.
I try to always look forward and live a life without regrets. I wish someone would have come along side me at the crucial time and hit me with a 2×4 over the head….saying now do nothing…you earned it.
I attended a seminar by Dr. Paul Schempp, where he explored the science behind making good decisions. I was reviewing my notes from this today, as I always like going back after having let the material digest a while, to extrapolate the main points. His work is based on a 20 year study… here you go.
“People who make good decisions avoid making bad ones.” Seems logical right? I mean if you don’t make bad decisions, then either you aren’t making them or you are making good ones. But how do you avoid making bad ones? I broke this down into two groups, one I call foundational and the other is emotional.
Then foundational areas that trip people up are: 1) Biases – Using things you know, that you favor in persuading you in a direction that if the bias was there, you would not otherwise go 2) Inexperience – This is a hard one! We all want to think we know a lot, but making a decision that you haven’t had to make before is difficult 3) Limited Info – Not having enough facts to make a good decision can lead to making a bad one 4) Over Confidence – Many of us feel like we know what’s best or that we are bold decision makers… which can also lead to bad decisions
Emotional areas that when experienced, you should avoid making decisions: 1) Anger – This is an easy one. Do any good decisions get made when you are truly angry? 2) Fear – Another easy one, but sometimes hard to detect until after the decision was made… the ol’ hindsight thing 3) Sadness – A hard one to recognize. Making decisions when your mental state is out of balance is never good… see a trend? 4) Disgust – This was a fun one for me to think about. Have I ever made a decision when I have been disgusted? 5) Guilt – Another hindsight emotion. In the moment, this maybe hard to detect… be vigilant.
Dr. Schempp’s overall premise is that we make logical, rational decisions when we are calm. He states, “When you are in a state of excitability, your brain does not allow “x” to flow to the frontal part of your brain. Sorry about the “x” thing, I literally could not write fast enough to keep up with him… it is some chemical though 🙂
Lastly, he concluded that “Fight or Flight” moments want you to make a fast decision… which seems logical. Who wants to ponder the many options when being chased by a lion? Recognizing the foundational and emotional areas where bad decisions are made and just eliminating making decisions when in those areas will definitely make you a better decision maker, without even making a decision.
Learn more about Dr. Schempp here – http://www.performancemattersinc.com/
Learn more about how I can help your organization make better marketing decisions here – https://www.think-b.com/c-liason/
I typically write a post the day after the big game, where I analyze the commercials that the ad gods deemed worthy to spend millions on. After some thought, I decided it wasn’t worth it. Yes, the biggest day of ad spend in one place, on one network, is not worthy of further review. Why? Because it’s my blog and I said so. Ok, the real reason is I wasn’t happy with the quality of content. I was tired after the first quarter of seeing the blathering commercials, all seeming to be the same… humorless, pandering and meh.
So in place of my post game commercial analysis, I thought it might be interesting to look at something else. I was wandering around the internet, sometimes a dangerous thing, but I ended up on a spam content website that had articles that you click to read, and then take you through a “next” workflow to read the article, all to increase page views on their website, so they can charge more money for advertising. ANYWAY, what caught my eye the most was the words this company used in its headlines. There were hundreds of articles and I started to see a pattern in the usage of words. Why should we care what they write? Well, they write to attract the attention of the people who have the shortest attention spans of all, web users without an agenda. Here are a list of the words that I saw used the most: Shady, Tragic, Strange, The Truth (or The Dark Truth), Nasty, Proof, Hilarious and Untold.
Ever hear something and it just resonates with you? The way a song sounds? The voice of a loved one? Today in a meeting, a prospect recited a James Michener quote to me. I have never heard it before and to be honest, I haven’t heard of Michener. Well stupid me… the guy was a great American writer. He wrote 40+ books over his career, with his most popular being Tales of the South Pacific, which was later made into a movie. Michener is attributed with many quotes, but the one I love goes like this: “The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. ” Do you make a distinction between your work or play? Is your labor your leisure? Is love and your religion synonymous? Lastly, do you leave others to decide whether you are working or playing? As for me, I am doing both.
When I was in high school, I read the novel Dune. After reading it, I wrote down a quote from the book and carried it with me for the next 30+ years. It helps to me remember that I will always have fears and it gives me the strength to face them. The next time you have fear, I hope you can remember this quote, and that it helps.
“Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me, and when it has gone past me, I will turn to see fear’s path. Where fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Frank Herbert – Dune
Ask ten people, get ten different answers. So, what does make a great commercial? Glad I asked myself. Here are three things that you have to have to make a great commercial.
Number one, a great product. You can only hype up crap so much, and in the end, people will know it’s crap if it is. Point being, don’t try to drive your crappy product through a river and up a waterfall if it isn’t made for the task. Disclaimer, I don’t own a Jeep, don’t know if they suck, but I guaranty you wouldn’t want to take my wifes’ Honda in that water.
Number two, a great story. Jeep has long been branded as an off road vehicle. Again, never been in one of road, but suffice to say, if I was going to go off road, I would prefer a Jeep…or a Land Rover, but they didn’t buy a Superbowl spot. And after watching that commercial, I have no doubt that a Jeep would fail me.
Number three, a great producer. Even a great product with a great story, told badly is not so great. Talent (writing, shooting, editing) is plentiful in the world today, but a great producer will pick the best…and execute well. This commercial was short enough to keep my attention, and long enough to brand the ruggedness of their product in my mind. It wasn’t full of special effects or celebrity bravado…it showed their product, conquering the elements.
So take a great product, that has a great story and tell it well…not rocket science, but it isn’t easy. Jeep executed this commercial well and I would bet they are going to have spike in sales because of it. But it still wasn’t my favorite.
Mr. Romantic bought his wife a shower caddy for Christmas… yeah, yeah, I know. I thought this would be a great gift, as it brought organization and conservation all into a nice shiny plastic unit that attaches to your bathroom wall. I now know that women like jewelry, candy and flowers, almost anything else, better than shower caddies, so lesson learned.
While she may or may not like the device, I have to say, I do. When I take a shower, we have our sponge thingy that you put soap on. In the past, I just dump soap onto the bath loofah (I looked it up) in a random amount. I have no rhyme or reason, just squeeze and whatever soap comes out is what I use… and it is usually way to much. But not anymore. So I thought… how much soap do I really need? Experiment time!
December 25 – started with 10 pumps, lots of suds, good and clean! December 26 – 9 pumps today, hmmm, still good and clean. December 28 – (don’t judge) 8 pumps and still the same clean. December 29 – 7 pumps and suds galore, I could have washed twice! December 30 – 6 pumps and I am getting nervous, will I smell today? I feel clean. December 31 (am) – 5 pumps and this is getting crazy, still perfectly clean. December 31 (pm) – 4 pumps and if word of this testing leaks out, Dove stock will crash! January 1 – 3 pumps, ok, I notice less suds now but I am still 100% clean!
Wow, from 10 pumps to 3 pumps with the SAME RESULTS: 70% less product used to complete the task! I would have never known this if I was a sensitive husband and bought my wife the correct Christmas gift… thank God!
What is the take away? Well, take this test and overlay it into your business, marketing, budgeting, human resources, etc. Do you really know what is possible in all aspects of your business unless you test? Do you really know how long something takes to do or how much it takes to do it, unless you test? Do you know how much you are wasting or could be saving? The answer is, you probably haven’t thought about it… well, you can’t use that excuse any longer. Now go test it.
I may or may not own a pinball machine… well ok, I do. I played this particular machine a lot in the year 1988 at the local pizza shop in Franklin, Indiana. A favorite past time of mine was to spend lots of quarters on this machine and try to get the high score, or in other words, have my name immortalized in the thrones of electronic data. I went to great lengths (and quarters) to getting the high score, only to leave college and move on. What ever happened to that machine? To my score?
Today I was blowing off some steam, trying to get the jackpot back up to over 4M before I attempt another run at the board… and then it hit me. Pinball is a lot like business…here are three examples. You have to know the field/rules. So often I have people want to play me on my machine. They think they can win. While I am not the greatest (I do hold 3 of the 4 top scores, damn you SKO), I understand how to score. Just like so many entrepreneurs today, they get into the game and think it’s easy. Watch some Shark Tank, or a little of the TV show The Profit, help a friend “run” their business… easy! Wrong. If you don’t know exactly what to expect when you get into the game, either game, you will get crushed by your competition that has experience on their side. You have to practice. I didn’t get the high score on my first try. I didn’t call my shots on the machine until I knew I could make them, or at least look like I knew what I was doing. I often just play to hit the Comet 6 times in a row on a double score clock. In business it is much the same, you have to read. You have to network. You have to try harder and work more if you want to be the best… it doesn’t come naturally.
There is a score… keep it. This doesn’t necessarily mean profit, but that’s nice. As a matter of fact, profit lets you do a lot in business. Help others, expand, employ more people, do greater work, etc. Can you imagine playing pinball without keeping score? What would be the point? Understand what score is important in your business, and keep it. Not only that, but month after month, year after year, understanding more, practicing often, I believe you will beat your old score and become a Pinball Wizard.