Earlier this month, I had a coaching call with a franchised business owner whom I had worked with many years ago. We delved into the importance of maintaining a robust mental mindset, sparking a recollection of a story from the early days of my career as a franchise coach.

Over two decades ago, at the onset of my journey as a franchise coach, I had a trainer whose name, regrettably, escapes me. Despite her brief tenure, she left an indelible mark through a conversation that still resonates with me today.

The Question

After a couple of months in the business, she asked about the number of people I was working with. I provided a figure. Then came a probing question, "How many of those people were genuinely committed? How many are real?" I chuckled, took a moment to reflect, and conceded that probably only half were truly serious. Surprisingly, she inquired about why I continued working with those who weren't serious. I explained, "being a new franchise coach, I need the experience. I am confident that I will navigate the learning curve faster with these additional interactions."

A New Approach

It was at this juncture that she imparted something invaluable, a piece of advice that has guided me for over two decades. She said, "Rick, every morning you wake up with a finite amount of positive energy. It's not unlimited; it's a precious resource that you spend throughout the day. If your initial interactions in the morning are with individuals who aren't serious and only drain your positive energy, you won't have the energy needed for those who truly deserve your time. My suggestion is to part ways with those who are not serious or exist solely to deplete your positive energy. It's a precious, finite resource—spend it wisely. Your business will flourish, and you'll find yourself happier and more energized at the day's end."

In essence, life is too short to waste time on individuals lacking work ethic, focus, or respect for your time. Allow these individuals to find happiness elsewhere and dedicate yourself to those where you can genuinely make a difference.

More than 20 years have passed since she shared this advice, and I continue to apply it to this day.

 

The question this month is whether you would rather have a baseball team full of home run sluggers or a team that is great at getting on base.  Which approach wins more games?  Well, the studies are clear.  Home runs are fun to watch but if you want to build a successful baseball team, you want a dugout full of players that can reliably get on base.  When you are on base, positive things can happen. When you swing for the fence and strike out, you are back on the bench.  (Ref: Study)

Let's take the metaphor one step further. Imagine you've never played baseball before. You are up to bat the very first time. What is the chance you're going to hit a home run? Not very good right?  Simply getting on base would be considered a success.

Connecting the Dots
Why am I talking about this?  Because often I work with first time business owners who are swinging for the fences.  When I asked them what their goals and objectives are, they provide a long list including paying off the first house, buying a second house on the beach, buying a boat they can go deep sea fishing with, buying their mother a house, buying their siblings cars, and a variety of other ‘must haves’. I then asked them how they are planning to achieve these goals. Their response normally includes opening a business for $150,000 that can eventually produce millions of dollars a year in revenue.  In addition, they want to keep their job while dedicating around 10 hours per week to the business. Has this ever been done.  Sure.  Is it likely to be a winning strategy?  Nope.  It is swinging for the fences when the goal should be to just get on base.

Better Approach
The better approach is to focus on getting on base. Your very first business does not have to solve every financial desire you have in life. Quite often it doesn't not. The first business needs to grow to the point where you can cover your living expenses.  This delivers freedom.  At the same time, the first business needs to teach you all the critical lessons necessary to be an independent business owner.  Once this is achieved, then you are on base, and, for a first-time hitter, you can consider that a success.

Just like swinging a bat, being a successful business owner is an acquired skill.  Through education and experience, we improve.  The goal over time is to grow a variety of income producing assets allowing you to have diversified income and become, as I mentioned in my August E-mail, ‘financially unbreakable’.

Swinging for the fences rarely works out.  Focus on reliable, predictable singles and before you know it, you will be standing on home plate.

Last month we lost an American icon. Jimmy Buffett, the leader of the Parrotheads and the mayor of the mythical paradise of Margaritaville. Jimmy passed away at the age of 76.

The Back Story
While everybody knows at least one of his songs and can visualize Jimmy Buffett sitting on a beach with a margarita in his hand, not everybody knows his back story.

Jimmy Buffett was born in 1946 in Mississippi and was raised in Alabama. He began his career in an acid rock band but evolved over time towards country music.  In the early 70s he moved to Nashville but unfortunately his style of singing didn't fit any of the pre-established genres. He paid his bills by waiting tables and working as a music critic.

After failing in Nashville and going through a divorce, he moved to Key West. He spent his days working on fishing boats and his evenings singing in the local bars.  He began to truly study the Key West bar clientele.  Over time, his singing and song writing began to reflect both his life and the escapism that the clientele wanted. His breakout hit was Margaritaville in 1977.  It was 37 years until his next big hit.

During those 37 years, touring small venues across the country, Jimmy Buffett catered to what his followers wanted.  Jimmy was protective of his brand and diligent in watching the bottom line.  He was careful to curate, but not over, expose his brand.

Overnight Success
In the 2003 hit, It's 5 O’Clock Somewhere, Alan Jackson laments about his job and asks ‘What would Jimmy Buffett do?’  Jimmy Buffett suggested Alan pour a hurricane and spend some time in Margaritaville.  That was Jimmy Buffett’s break out moment.  Eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart and the Country Music Award for Vocal Event of the Year.  This was the very first award that Jimmy Buffett had ever received for any song.

From that point forward Jimmy Buffett we know today was born. Selling out stadiums and becoming a folk icon.  Restaurants, movies, books, retail stores and websites evolved and grew.   However, what's important to remember is the 37 years that he spent earning the opportunity to become a folk icon.

The Secret to Success
When interviewing Jimmy Buffett, 60 Minutes asked him what his secret to success was.  Jimmy Buffett began by saying that his is mostly a businessman. Creating the mythical paradise of Margaritaville took decades. He also admitted that he is not a great musician. He dreams of playing the guitar like Eric Clapton and he still takes singing lessons.  According to Jimmy Buffett, the secret to success in life comes down to three simple things.

  1. You must have a little bit of talent. You don't have to be the most talented, you just need to figure out what talent you do have and leverage that talent.
  2. You must have a little bit of luck.  And when luck knocks on your door you need to be able to recognize it and take advantage of it.  As Senica said – ‘Luck is where preparation meets opportunity’.
  3. Most important, you must have an ample serving of work ethic.  Get up early in the morning, work hard each day, and always keep your eye on the ball.

Discussing his raving fans, the Parrotheads, Jimmy said something very interesting.  ‘(paraphrased) At my concerts I see the craziest things and sometimes I wonder who are these people? They're having a great time at the concert, but my guess is that every one of them shows up for work on Monday morning.  They love the escapism of Margaritaville, but they also understand what it means to get up and work hard each day.  In many ways they're just like me’

Take a moment this weekend to drink a margarita and listen to a Jimmy Buffet song.  And, when you are done, get back to work because … that is what Jimmy Buffet would do.

I don't know about you but I am constantly reading. I am normally reading a few books at the same time and, with the weather being as hot as it is, I've been spending more time than normal in my reading chair. Currently I'm reading a book on Bayes Law, a second book is on Real Estate Syndications, and the third book is The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. It's this third book that I'd like to highlight this month.

Over the years one of the things I learned is that saving money isn't that difficult.  Saving is all about maintaining a lifestyle that costs less than your earnings.  With discipline and time, you will save money.  The challenge is making good investment decisions once you have saved money.  Chapter five outlines three financial survival characteristics of highly successful individuals.  These characteristics apply not only to investing but also to business ownership.

Financially Unbreakable.
The goal is to become financially unbreakable.  Most individuals place all their chips on one roll of the dice. All their income comes from one source.  All their investments are in one place. If anything happens to either the income source or the investment, they have a serious financial issue.  I know you're saying that's not you but how many people reading this newsletter have one job (one source of income) and invest all their money in the stock market (one place). The point of this first item is that being one-dimensional is highly risky.  Life happens.  The larger your diversity of income sources and the larger the diversity of your investment vehicles, the more unbreakable you will be.

You Plan, God Laughs.
The second point relates to planning. ‘Planning is important, but the most important part of every plan is to plan on the plan not going according to plan.'  Remember Mike Tyson quote, ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.’  Well, things never go according to plan.  For a plan to be useful, it must be able to survive the vagaries of reality.  In other words, it must have a significant ‘margin of safety’. Margin of safety is different from being conservative. Conservative is avoiding risk. Margin of safety is raising the odds of success at a given level of risk by increasing your chances of survival. The magic is that the higher your margin of safety, the greater your chance for a favorable outcome. Margin of Safety drives risk reduction.

Barbelled Personality
A ‘barbelled personality’ is a personality that is both optimistic about the future but also paranoid about what can go wrong. Successful individuals believe the future is bright and that everything is moving upwards and to the right, while also understanding lots of things will go wrong and you need to be vigilant, prepared and even paranoid.  Individuals who are solely optimistic tend to take foolhardy risks leading to loss. Individuals who are solely paranoid believe that everyone is out to get them and never take any risks. Neither path works. The only path to success is both optimism and paranoia.

Hopefully these three thoughts give you a little something to chew on as you sit out by the pool trying to stay cool this summer. Wishing you and yours the very best.

First, an most importantly, Happy 4th of July!.  I hope you have time set aside with family and friends. Enjoy and stay safe.

At it's core, the 4th of July is about freedom and self-determination.  It is about the willingness to bet on ourselves.  Over a decade ago I published a blog summarizing a talk by Tom Shay.  Today, his message is even more relevant so I am republishing this poignant essay.
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Last week I had the distinct honor to hear Tom Shay, CEO of Right Management, Florida/Caribbean speak on the topic of job transition and career management.  What an interesting discussion.  Mr. Shay has held this position for 31 years and during his tenure Mr. Shay has seen exceptional change in the employer/employee relationship.

Mr. Shay began by sharing a very simple statistic. During his father’s generation (presumably 40 years ago), the average tenure for a manager or higher, was 27 years.  Losing a job was considered taboo.  As a matter of fact, it was hard to lose a job.  You really had to do something wrong.  Today the average tenure for that same employee is 3.7 years (update - 3.1 years in 2022).  Doing a good job does not mean you will keep your job.  Job transition is commonplace and expected.  Does that surprise you?  From 27 years to an average of 3.7 (3.1)years. Wow.

Mr Shay went on to state that what used to be ‘one job for life’ has disappeared.  Today it is one boss for life – yourself.  You need to look at yourself as a company and intelligently apply your personal brand to the marketplace.   Mr. Shay’s point is that we are all ‘free agents’ or ‘businesses’.  Companies may contract with you if they think you can solve their problem.  Once the problem is fixed, you will need to find another application for your skills.

Finally, Mr. Shay spoke about the important of investing in yourself.  Going to conferences, staying current and learning new things is what allows us to remain relevant.  Don’t expect someone else to pay for you to improve yourself.  We are all ‘free agents’ or ‘businesses’ and as such, we need to focus on doing those things that allow us to best achieve our personal goals

As you know, I spend most of my time discussing business ownership, but Mr. Shay’s points are well stated.  The world is a different place.  Business ownership may or may not be the right path for you but regardless, you need to think of yourself as a business.
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This message from Tom Shay goes to the heart of what freedom and self-determination is all about.  A great message for each and everyone one of us on this 4th of July holiday.

Today, we are inundated with videos, blogs, posts and yes, even newsletters discussing the path to success.  Most of the time there is limited real value in the content.  However, every so often, we run into something significant.  And often, it is the simple, short messages that have the largest impact.

The video message I would like to share is from Steve Jobs.  The video is less than two minutes.  During this video, Steve Jobs discusses lessons he learned when he was 12 years old and how he tries to pay it forward.

Short, powerful, and cutting to the core of what it takes to grow, evolve and succeed.

Thoughts From Steve Jobs

Wishing you and yours the very best.

It was the summer of 2019 when ‘D’ and I had lunch together.  We had met a few years earlier and he immediately impressed me as a young man with a vision and, potentially, the fortitude to see it through.  During our lunch together ‘D’ peppered me with questions.  I could see he was hungry to learn and to grow.  ‘D’ told me that he was going to change the trajectory of his life.  Instead of working for others, he was going to be a business owner.   Little did he know the tests that life was going to throw his direction.  Amazingly, he never took his eye off the ball and, five years later, he is a business owner.  If you want a wonderful story of stick-with-it-ness, read 'D’s' post, below.

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After a five-year journey, I am officially a small business owner!! When I first learned about entrepreneurship through acquisition, it lite a fire within me I cannot explain. I began obsessively consuming books and podcasts, befriending business owners and investors, attending seminars and retreats. All to build the knowledge, skills, and monetary means to execute my dream.

Through my journey, I experienced a painful divorce, unexpected employment changes, loss of friendships, relationships, and financial setbacks. Enduring this with an attitude of radical acceptance, I slowly built the mental and emotional strength needed to change my life.

Over the past few months, I sold my home, investment properties, and possessions. I moved across the country, quit my corporate job, and liquidated my retirement in preparation for this moment. This is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done; but today, I have acquired my first business!

On February 24th, the day before my 39th birthday, five years of hard work have paid off in the form of more hard work; but for my own business, employees, and community in which I serve. I am dedicated to earning more to give more, to mentor and be mentored, to accept what is. The love and support of the many people in my life is both motivating and inspiring. Thank you all for sharing this journey with me and I wish you the best in yours.

Words that got me through it all:

  1. “Sometimes, when we are in a dark place, we think we have been buried. In reality, we have been planted in a perfect place for us to grow.”
  2. “If you want something you’ve never had, then you must do something you’ve never done.”
  3. “The purpose of a goal is not to get the goal. It’s who we become in the process of achieving it. What you get will never make you happy, who you become will define your life.”
  4. “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
  5. “There are two pains in life, the pain of discipline or the pain of regret

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Please join me in congratulating 'D'.  He had everything thrown at him but never took his eye off the ball. Not only did he gain the 'mental and emotional strength needed to change his life', he developed the strength required to achieve new levels of success.  Congrats 'D!

Several weeks ago, as the Outgoing Chairman, I was honored to speak at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner.  During my remarks, I shared a story that resonated with many folks in the audience.   At their suggestion, I am sharing an abbreviated summary of my comments in this month's newsletter.
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....As part of my remarks, I'd like to share a story with you. A story that dates back over 20 years when I first joined the chamber.  In the year 2000 my wife and I moved to Manatee County.  At that time, I was employed. I didn't know anybody in the community – In truth, I barely knew my neighbors.  I was traveling a lot and didn’t spend much time at home.

In 2002 Ella was born. We made a family decision stay here and to begin building businesses.  The first thing I did was join the Chamber of Commerce.

At the first event I attended, I met Bob Bartz, Neil Spiritus and Marie Pender.  They each took the time to speak with me.  Bob quickly learned that I had spent a good number of years kayaking and invited me kayaking with the Chamber that weekend in Robinson Preserve long before it opened to the public.

There were about fifteen of us kayaking through the preserve that Saturday and it was an august group.  Included was a President of a local bank, President of the local newspaper, a leading attorney, the President of the Chamber and a variety of other community leaders.   I was amazed at the beauty of the preserve, but mostly, I was amazed at how open, inviting and humble the group was.

Over the past 20 years I have been honored to get to know many of our community leaders, some of which are still with us and some who are not.   There's a common theme among those leaders who we universally respect and admire.  I would like to list 5 common personality characteristics.

Humility.
Although everyone has an ego, these leaders consistently focus on Humility.  They don't need to be in the limelight.  They actively look for ways to elevate others.  They know that by empowering others, they are securing the future.  They are securing legacy.

Bridge Building
For these leaders, the first step is always ‘Bridge Building’.  These leaders understand sustainable progress cannot be achieved without the assistance of others.  They actively work to engage as many people as possible building bridges, building trust and building the type of respect that withstands the test of time.

Strength.
Once clarity and consensus is reached, once the bridges are built, they are comfortable leaning in on the project, providing leadership and strength.

Attention to Detail.
These leaders know that details matter. Little things make a big difference.

These details are the things that often determine long term success.

Approachability.

These are some of the most approachable people you will ever meet.  Most importantly, when you do speak with them, they are 100% present.  They are great listeners, and they listen with an intention to understand, not simply to respond.

These 5 characteristics have consistently been the cornerstone of great leadership here in Manatee County and beyond.  We continue to embrace these 5 characteristics because we know that community involvement, empowering others, building bridges and staying humble is critical to our mission.

….In closing I'd like to share a few ‘Thank Yous’

I'd like to thank the many mentors I have had over the years.  Some of whom are in the room this evening.  You have been my guide, my example, and my strength.  You saw more in me than I saw in myself and for that I am eternally grateful.  What you did for me made a difference and my mission in life is to pay it forward

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The above comments are abbreviated from an 18-minute speech, but they get to the heart of the message.  I hope you find value in these five characteristics as I have.

Yesterday was an interesting day and it reinforced what I call 'power in doing'.

Yesterday afternoon I was involved in an e-mail exchange with a fellow franchise coach. We were discussing a franchise system and their ability to create successful franchisees.  He shared the fact that is most polished, seasoned, professionals often over thought the process and, as a result, they often struggled during the startup phase.  He then compared this to his candidates who were scrappy, focused and action oriented.   Even though their resumes are not as impressive, these folks seemed often found success faster and more reliably.  It was interesting food for thought.

As the day ended, I headed over to my local Pilates studio and, in the parking lot, one of the ladies who works out at the same facility walked over to me and said, ‘Rick, you were SO right. All the stuff I was worrying about when it came to starting my business didn't matter. Most important thing was to simply get started’.  She continued by saying, ‘There were so many things I didn't know that I didn't know. I  would have never started if I tried to sort all of that. However, now that I've been in business for six months, I can see myself learning and improving.  Doing is the most important thing!’   She was genuinely excited to see her business grow, and I could see that she was also growing as a person.  Maybe Nike had something when they said, ‘Just Do It’.

Same day, same message, from two different places. Maybe 2023 is trying to tell me something.   If 2022 was your year of planning, make sure that 2023 is your year of doing.

I think I'm going to go out and buy myself a pair of Nikes. 

Last week I had the opportunity to hear a leadership specialist share her ideas on personal growth and leadership.  During her talk she discussed the importance of using VUCA as the starting point for all strategic leadership and planning activities.

What is VUCA?
VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity.  First used in the late 1990s by the US Army War College, VUCA is the assumed starting place for most war game activities.  Over the last 10 years VUCA has been increasingly applied to strategic leadership in the corporate and nonprofit world.

The speaker's point is that we must each, individually, apply VUCA to our personal planning activities.  As you are building your personal plan, it's no longer adequate, or even safe, to say ‘I like the status quo’.  In most scenarios, the status quo is not a realistic long-term assumption.  Our world is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. As a result, our personal visioning and strategic planning activities must presume change. The term ‘What If’ must be included in every planning activity and your personal vision needs to be flexible enough to adapt to a wide range of future environments.

Pressure Testing Against VUCA
If you don't have a personal vision statement or a strategic plan for your future, I would encourage you to begin working on this. If you already have a personal vision statement, you need to begin pressure testing it.  Ask tough questions. If your vision statement isn't sufficiently resilient or flexible, evolve your vision to encompass more eventualities.

None of us know the future because the future is VUCA.  We cannot control what comes next, we can only control our reaction. The more carefully you've thought about the alternatives the more likely you will make the right decision at the right time.

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