This is not a paid endorsement and I have never spoken to anyone at the Passion Planner company. I like their product and wanted to share with our subscribers.
Planners, journals, and organization tools are highly personal. I found this planner in late 2014 while browsing around Kickstarter. What grabbed my attention was the name “Passion Planner.” And the fact that this was a softcover, lay-flat,2-week-at-a-glance, bound 8.5″ x 11″ book.
I have tried all kinds of paper planners over the past 40 years: spiral, looseleaf, and bound; soft and hard cover, as well as 3-ring and 7-ring binder; small, medium and large; Daytimers, Dayrunners, Franklin Planners, blank notebooks, Moleskine, and other long-forgotten brands. It wasn’t until 2014 that I found what I believe is planner that best fits my work style.
For me, it has just the right amount of flexibility and just the right amount of structure. I hope you’ll check it out.
NOTE: A few times in the past, I tried planner software like Lotus Organizer (remember that from the 1990s?) and a couple of other long-forgotten programs, but never for more than a few weeks at a time. Inevitably I would revert back to paper. For me, I like the actual effort of writing stuff down on paper. With paper, I seem to remember things better, plus I like the tactile feel of highlighting things, and crossing things off, and being able to draw diagrams and charts in a free form manner.
What’s great about the Passion Planner:
They use top notch materials; the binding is high quality, the paper is perfect, and the cover is ideal; soft, slightly padded, and durable
2-page per week layout – I personally prefer the “week at a glance” layout rather than the 1 or 2 page per day
For each month, they provide a “month at a glance” view (granted, most planners have this view also)
Stirtched and bound – Yes, looseleaf is more flexible/customizable by allowing you to add pages, but NOT being able to add pages keeps things more simple for me. I keep folders and binders for loose sheets, but these days pretty much everything can be digitized.
The right amount of structure and the right amount of flexibility
This is a Guest blog post from CONNECTpreneur partner and Coach Ines LeBow, CEO of Enterprise transformation Solutions, which specializes in helping early stage companies raise capital.
Company Culture Sustainable in Any Market
Herodotus, the ancient Greek intellectual who became known as “The Father of History” coined the phrase “Culture is King”. Companies rise and fall based on their culture, and challenging situations like we’ve faced here in 2020 test company culture to determine if it’s real or just a façade. In a recent article, I gave advice on how to “Pandemic-Proof Your Funding Pitch Deck”, but as an entrepreneur, are you really able to pandemic-proof your company culture? The answer is a resounding “yes”! In fact, you can create a culture that thrives in any market situation, including Covid and beyond.
How you, the entrepreneur, and the executive team lead at the outset of your business and through “normal” times sets the tone for your culture that will carry you through times that are trying. As Frances Hesselbein so succinctly put it, “Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.”
For the leadership team that truly prioritizes the culture of their organization, there are a few core values that will be emphasized down the management ranks to the front-line employees and a call to have the actions of all personnel align with these values. The top core values include:
Two-Way Communication – Consistent and ongoing opportunities for the executive team to interact with staff (both speaking and listening) and for all team members to interact with customers (again, both speaking and listening)
Engagement – Fostering a sense of ownership and a common purpose throughout the organization to energize all employees and get them working toward a uniting vision
Organization Model – What is the composition of your workforce? Do you require staff to be on premises? Are you dependent on contractors or outsourced partners?
Wellness and Balance – Setting policies that value employees’ work-life balance, mental and physical health, and general wellness
Programs and Tools – Enacting programs and implementing tools that allow employees to thrive in personal and professional development, workplace collaboration, idea innovation, mobile and remote work setups, knowledge sharing, and more
The combination of forced and voluntary business shutdowns that occurred nearly overnight as a result of the Coronavirus response quickly led to 88% of companies that either required or encouraged their employees to work from home, according to a Gartner survey. Some companies were ill-prepared for this rapid shift. Many of the companies with the technical capabilities for hosting a truly remote workforce, however, lacked the type of culture that would keep employees engaged, communicating, and thriving when not in an in-person environment.
Having a great framework in place is essential and must include employees who come to a physical office location as well as employees who work from home, in the field, or from a remote office. As companies return to work, executives and board members are going to re-imaging how the company operates. The old approach of leasing large office spaces may alter significantly, causing companies to adopt a more aggressive mobile and remote work model. Re-thinking how these core values that contribute to the corporate culture can be dealt with is just as important to strategize over.
To learn more about creating an engaging culture or how to create an epic fundraising story for digital presentations to investors, contact me for a complimentary consultation by phone at 314-578-0958 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ines LeBow is the CEO, Transformation Executive for ETS. She is a known catalyst for business operations, bringing 30+ years of hands-on experience. Ines has a long history of being recruited into senior executive roles to improve the execution of business operations and to drive revenue growth. You can see her LinkedIn Profile at www.linkedin.com/in/ineslebow, view the ETS website at www.transformationsolutions.pro, or email her directly at email@example.com.
This is a Guest Blog Post from Sales and Sales Management guru Chris Tully.
In recent blogs I’ve been writing a lot about the evolving market because it’s especially important in these conditions to have robust processes that lend confidence and set you up for success. When designed and operated properly, your Sales Pipeline is another key tool to serve in this purpose; a proxy to identify what’s going well and what’s not going well with your business. Your organization’s ability to scale is largely dependent on your ability to reliably forecast revenue, which really boils down to the quality and volume of data within your Pipeline. Setting up, leveraging, and monitoring this resource properly enables you to see performance against key metrics and accurately show where your business is headed.
However, there are stumbling blocks that many Owners and Sales Leaders face when they look to formalize their Sales Pipeline methodology. The primary misunderstanding I see is the belief that a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system on its own will provide the on-target visibility desired. This, coupled with too many bells and whistles, makes it easy to lose sight of the primary role of a CRM, to support a well-thought-out Sales Strategy in the simplest method possible. Getting caught up in the technology can lead to a misstep where companies invest in a system without completing the fundamental steps of defining the underlying strategy and associated processes first.
When designed correctly, process discipline will be reflected in Pipeline performance, but only if the right technology is being utilized and if the salespeople are engaging with the system properly. So, take a moment and ask yourself if you’re operating a solid Pipeline that gives you confidence, or a “PipeDREAM” that frustrates you because of missed forecast projections.
Over the years, when it comes to the Sales Pipeline, the key question I commonly hear Owners ask about is, “what’s the accuracy of the data and how do we know if we can rely on it?” The interplay between people, process, technology, and continual inspection is the secret recipe that creates Pipeline data integrity (valuable, actionable data). Let’s take a closer look at these main components that feed Pipeline data integrity, “the 4-legged stool” that should support every business.
1. PEOPLE – Training to foster understanding, adoption, and accountability. Even the best process, procedure and technology will fail without user adoption. The starting point is investing in well-rounded training to help the Salespeople understand how the infrastructure will help them achieve their individual goals; the technology or CRM being just one component. From there, creating advocacy within the team after having the right level of executive sponsorship from the start is the way to achieve essential adoption. This is especially important to motivate potentially stubborn Salespeople who tend to be resistant to change. Once you are assured that your Salespeople understand how to engage with your Pipeline methodology and see value in it, then it is practical to expect compliance. This will open the door to your Pipeline becoming a powerful diagnostic tool that will allow you to pinpoint underperformance problems that need correction.
2. PROCESS – Solidifying repeatable and scalable process/procedure. As leaders, we need to equip our sales teams with tools to guide their success. It is not reasonable to expect Sales Pipeline data integrity until we provide a proven Sales Process and guiding data procedures. When designed properly, these approaches will fuel confidence in new Salespeople and tenured veterans alike. This will naturally occur as they experience or see their colleagues experience that investing in the model generates predictable results. To learn more about developing a robust Sales Process, read my previous blog:“How’s Your Sales Process Confidence Measuring Up to the Results It’s Generating?” Guiding data procedures will address data quality around things like sales activity, customer information collection, opportunities that feed into the Sales Pipeline, etc. All these moving pieces work together to provide the Salespeople and Sales Leaders a powerful view into real-time performance indicators that can be leveraged to optimize results. This level of visibility will also prevent the undesirable but common problem in CRM systems of “garbage in, garbage out.”
3. TECHNOLOGY – It’s not about more, it’s about simplicity. Your technology should make everyone’s lives simpler and more efficient. If you’re an Owner or Sales Leader, ask yourself, “do I have a simple and easy-to-understand dashboard at my fingertips that allows me visibility to see where my business is going?” The most important thing to note is that the best Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is the one that gets used, helps your Salespeople succeed, and assists your leadership team in monitoring progress. I come across companies that are still using Excel spreadsheets and notepads, and those that have fully integrated and advanced CRMs. In all cases, the first step is to define Sales Strategy and Metric Objectives so the technology can be aligned to the business requirements. Done properly, the technology isn’t the driver, it’s merely a vehicle to deliver on the business strategy. I often recommend scaling technology back to optimize adoption, a key contributor to data integrity. To get and keep users engaged, you will want to have the lightest possible technology structure that can deliver on key metrics.
CRM Adoption Calls for LESS Bells & Whistles 1. Choose a technology that allows your Salespeople to see their productivity improve with its use so that you can avoid resistance to adoption. 2. Align technology to your requirements to create a user-friendly experience, as well as insightful data (clarity on your key measurements/metrics). 3. Make sure that you have only the technology that you need and nothing more. 4. INSPECTION – Tweaking and tuning to optimize data integrity. The fourth leg of the stool, Inspection, is the glue that makes Pipeline performance possible through the application of experienced Sales Leadership. It’s critical that the Owner or Sales Leader holding this seat monitors strategy execution and data integrity through routine Pipeline inspections. This, followed by targeted coaching with salespeople on an individual level, will fine tune sales skills and data entry compliance.
As more data is available in your CRM system, your organization will benefit from the ability to consider history and trends; identify what’s working and what’s not. This will allow more runway to repair performance breakdowns before Sales Goal achievement becomes hindered. When Training, Process/Procedure, and Technology are all effectively designed and implemented, problem areas become easily identified through the Sales Pipeline. Diving in to inspect problem areas within a solid sales infrastructure will enable the Sales Leader to quickly diagnose root cause problems and apply the appropriate solution. Sales Performance will not be sustainable without ongoing Sales Leadership attention that embodies the full breadth of skills and activities needed to generate high-performance results.
In closing, let’s recap – you want your Salespeople only working on prospects with the highest probability of closure. Your properly designed Sales Pipeline will serve as a diagnostic tool to identify sales performance problems if it’s built as the “4-legged stool” I outlined. Just remember, even the best process and system won’t be sustainable without ongoing, effective Sales Leadership.
THOUGHT PROVOKING TRIVIA ANSWER 70% of CRM projects fail. * The management of customers and potential customers is critical. However, a key component of a productive Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is having a set strategy that the technology delivers upon. I can help you avoid this misstep that results in a large CRM deployment failure rate. Schedule a time to chat.*Source: Linkedin.com
About the Author I am a part of a sub-group of Sales Xceleration Advisors dedicated to pooling our knowledge and expertise to generate insights, tips, and tools to help business leaders exponentially grow their revenue. We are seasoned Executive Sales Leaders that have guided B2B businesses ranging from start-up to Fortune 500. I welcome any special requests you may have for future writing topics.
Chris is the President of Sales Growth Advisors LLC, a sales consulting firm focused on increasing revenue growth and improving profitability. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Cuban’s Beatitudes: 7 Factors for Startup Success
Shark Tank star Mark Cuban has been a startup investor and serial entrepreneur since his teenage years selling garbage bags, creating chain letters, offering dance lessons, and even running newspapers from Cleveland to Pittsburgh during a strike of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Cuban is ranked #177 on the Forbes 400 list for 2020 with an estimated $4.3B in net worth.
Anyone who has listened to Mark knows that he has a lot to say and has very strong opinions on many topics. My goal here is to summarize how to be successful in business, especially for entrepreneurs in the startup arena. I’ve distilled Mark’s approach down to 7 key factors.
Passion is at the core of everything in business, especially a startup business. Our passion will dictate the energy we bring to our work and will transmit our excitement to prospective customers, vendors, and partners.
“Love what you do or don’t do it.”
The ideal time is now, according to Mark Cuban. You need to always be moving forward in a tangible way to achieve your business and startup goals. You’ll always have doubts and the world will always put doubters in your path to throw up obstacles, to hurt your confidence, and to smother your passion. Don’t let them stop you, and don’t let changing circumstances keep you from doing it now (see “Now’s the Time to Get Your Business Funded: Coronavirus Edition”).
“Always wake up with a smile knowing that today you are going to have fun accomplishing what others are too afraid to do.”
Dictionary.com defines bold as “not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger…courageous and daring…beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.” For a startup to be successful, an entrepreneur must be bold but not blind. They must have a clear understanding of what they are doing and why as well as what they’re strengths and weaknesses are. You really aren’t bold or courageous if you don’t recognize the challenges or dangers that you need to overcome to succeed. See my recent article on being bold in getting investor funding (“How Far Will You Go to Get Your Business Funded?”).
“It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve failed. You only have to be right once.”
Knowing the business, the market, the players, the customers and their sentiments are all essential to being prepared to succeed in a startup business. Whether you need to convince Angels or PE/VC investors to fund your business or you are bootstrapping it, you need to know what it will take to win. Without this knowledge you have almost no chance to succeed. By the way, as your business grows and the market changes, you need to continually upgrade your knowledge to improve what you do and how you do it.
“Because if you’re prepared and you know what it takes, it’s not a risk. You just have to figure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there.”
Entrepreneurs who lie to themselves about their products, services, competitors, customers, and market conditions aren’t going to be in business very long. Don’t just make assumptions but deal in facts. If you’ve already formed assumptions, work hard to validate or invalidate them so you can prepare a genuine SWOT analysis. This will help you launch the business and bring the right product to market at the proper place and price with the proper message.
“One problem people have is that they lie to themselves…rarely is talent enough. You have to find ways to make yourself standout. You do so by playing to your strengths and making people aware of those strengths.”
Every startup entrepreneur wants to believe that their product or service has never been done before, but the ones who proceed with that mindset are inviting peril. Be a student of history. One of the first things you learn is that humankind doesn’t learn from history because we keep repeating the same mistakes. Humility will make you realize that somebody somewhere has probably tried this before. Do your research…and not just a quick Google search. Find out who tried and how they failed. Use their experience to learn the hard lessons without suffering the personal setbacks.
“One thing we can all control is effort. Put in the time to become an expert in whatever you’re doing.”
While your product or service may not be completely new, you need to make at least one aspect of it your own. Consider what characteristics you bring to the product, to how or to whom it is marketed, or how it is delivered to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you try to be the same, you have no basis other than price on which to compete, and someone newer and cheaper can easily come along to take your market away from you.
“Creating opportunities means looking where others are not.”
“When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?”
“Success is about making your life a special version of unique that fits who you are – not what other people want you to be.”
If you aggressively pursue these 7 areas, your chances of startup success increase dramatically. What are you waiting for? As Mark Cuban says, the perfect time is now.
About 18 months ago, I was cold called by a young, ambitious MBA student who wanted some advice and guidance on something very very difficult to do: breaking into the venture capital business. Relative to huge demand, there are very few entry level VC positions available in the Washington, DC region.
Since his initial cold call, I have met him a few times at various events around town. I had not heard from him in several months until today when, in response to an email announcement my company sent out, he responded that he was still seeking my help in landing a VC job.
I emailed him my response:
Here’s how I may help, with some (free) advice:
YOU have to HELP you. The buck stops with you!
You have to create true value for your customers and constituents (boss, coworkers, investors, friends, etc).
You must give 110% every single hour of every single day, and MAKE SURE all of this is recognized.
Network like a machine. You should be out every night going to 2-3 events per, and genuinely HELPING others – Thats how you build YOUR brand!
Work 80 hours per week. There’s no substitute for hard work.
In this market, the ideal job does not come to you. YOU have to attack and make it happen. And the tools you need are contacts, credibility and expertise, all of which you will develop by following the advice above.
Pursue your dream and never give up!! It may take a month, year, or 10 years, but the persistent person ALWAYS wins…eventually!!
All the best, Tien
That’s advice I would give to my kids, the students I work with at Georgetown or Maryland, and anyone looking to land any kind of job, especially a high-demand job.
Bottom line: you have to help yourself, and there are no shortcuts. Buckle up because the road will be long and bumpy,
I had the privilege of having lunch with our Tech 2000 and appnetic summer interns yesterday. I’m pictured above with them and one of my Partners, George Churchwell, Co-Founder and President of Tech 2000. This crop of 7 of the best and brightest students from MIT, Georgetown, Emory, UVA, UNC, and Virginia Tech give me a high degree of confidence in the future leaders and entrepreneurs of America! They are smart, confident, talented, ambitious, and want to make an impact in the world.
We had a terrific discussion about entrepreneurship, innovation, startups, business, and management. They are each excited about learning new skills and garnering some good business experience. They came to the right place and we are very grateful to have them this summer (We selected these 7 out of over 150 applications; special thanks to our awesome Head of Talent, Jackie Churchwell!).
Inevitably the conversation turned to advice, on both business and life. So I divided my thoughts into 2 lists: “Winning Advice” and “What I Wish I Knew at Your Age,” the latter of which is one of my favorite slides when I speak to students at some of our local business schools.
WINNING ADVICE FOR OUR INTERNS
Integrity is #1 – this is about you and your reputation. Do the right thing and keep your promises, be honest and transparent.
Find your Passion – it’s ok if you don’t know it yet. I know 50-year olds who haven’t yet found theirs. Experiment, try new things. You will find your passion or it will come to you.
Always give 100% – work hard, be proactive, bring your “A” game, and be prepared
Learn how to sell – the most underrated yet important skill you will ever have is knowing HOW TO SELL. Understanding your customer’s motivations and buying patterns is critical to business and life. Life is about selling and persuading, and your “customers” include friends, family, bosses, etc.
Have Fun! Life is short. If you’re not having fun, then you’re wasting your time. Move on until you find something you truly enjoy.
“WHAT I WISH I KNEW AT YOUR AGE”
Everything is hard! Everything takes longer and costs more than you expect. If you go into any endeavor knowing this fact, you will have more reasonable expectations and not get so discouraged when you have a few setbacks.
Nothing comes without Hard Work and LUCK – you need Luck, and eventually it will find you. The harder you work, the more prepared you are and the “luckier” you will get.
When building a startup, there’s no such thing as “Work/Life Balance.” It’s “Work/Work Balance.”Once you find your passion, life and work converge and become one. I don’t know any successful entrepreneurs who have not put in huge hours and sacrifice.
Work with great partners, advisors and people.The key word here is great. Great people can achieve multiples of what mediocre people can do.
Don’t waste your time with liars, posers, and cheats. Eventually, they will bring you down. You will be known and judged by the company you keep.
Trust YOUR gut, it’s usually right. You know more about yourself than you realize.
Money is overrated and Contentment is underrated. Enough said.
Please let me know what YOU would add to these 2 lists. Thanks for reading and subscribing!
He was funny, engaging, and inspiring, and also had some sound business wisdom for the crowd of 3000 or so sales and marketing executives in attendance. Everyone knows Magic Johnson as one of the all-time NBA greats, but his business resume would seem to qualify him also as one of America’s top entrepreneurs.
He’s a true Unicorn, a rare individual who has reached the pinnacle in sport as well as in business. He spoke about how he made the transition, and how he started winning in business.
CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which reportedly has a net worth of $700 million
Part owner of the LA Dodgers, Major League Baseball team
Former minority owner of the LA Lakers, National Basketball Association team
Owner of Magic Theaters
Partner in the $500 million Yucaipa/Magic private equity fund
First franchisee of Starbucks ever, built a chain of 125 stores in urban locations, sold the chain back to Starbucks corporate
Co-owner of the Dayton Dragons (minor league baseball) and the LA Sparks (WNBA)
Founder, Magic Johnson Foundation
MAGIC’S KEYS TO WINNING
Play to win, and work with Winners
Know your customer – an example he cited was his knowledge of the “Urban customer”, and how he replacing scones w sweet potato pie at Starbucks, and adding more flavored drinks to the menu in order to cater to his customers
Over-deliver – “the key to business success and the key to retention”
Work with great partners
Sell at the right time – Johnson sold his stake in Starbucks and the L.A. Lakers NBA team as valuations started to rise.
OTHER INTERESTING FACTS AND THOUGHTS
He does an annual SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of all of his companies AND himself.
Magic’s All Time starting 5 lineup – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan and himself.
His number one, top rival on the court: Larry Bird
Mentors – Magic has a network of 20+ CEOs who mentor him. He built this network after retirement from basketball by obtaining a list of the Lakers’ VIP season ticket holders and cold calling them one by one.
His biggest failure – Magic 32 sporting goods stores, which failed after only one year.
Magic, on the handful of traits which makes him a success in business (he said he brought these skills he learned as an athlete to his business ventures) – desire to WIN, perfectionism, preparation, focus, discipline, professionalism, and his ability to motivate his team and those around him to reach their full potential.
I’ve never met Magic Johnson, nor have I seen him speak at this length, but here are my main impressions of him, garnered from his 50 minute talk:
Burning desire to WIN. He hates to lose – “underperforming is not winning the Championship”
Supremely confident – he KNOWS he’s going to win
His “game plan” is simple. He sticks to the basics (customer focus, over-delivering, good teams, good partners, etc.)
Coachable (he spoke extensively about soliciting and absorbing good advice from his network of 20 CEO “coaches”)
It was quite inspiring and refreshing to hear from an entertaining, motivational speaker who backs up his thoughts with relevant stories and sound business advice. Always a fan of him as a basketball player, I am now a fan of Magic Johnson as an entrepreneur.
The event is regarded by many as “The Best Networking Event in DC.” InTheCapital calls CONNECTpreneur a “NETWORKING JACKPOT” of the DC Region’s TOP Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders, CXOs, Angels, and VCs.
Heavy NETWORKING before, during, and after the event
The venue is the Tysons Corner Marriott in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. A plated breakfast is included. CONNECTpreneur is a quarterly networking mashup, which has been attended by over 2500 business leaders in the past 3 years. We expect another SELL OUT crowd, so there will be no on-site registration.
“The best business book I have ever read.” Why? Because you can’t build a great team without a methodical recruiting, measurement and retention process. When we had 2300 employees at CyberRep, we found this book and it became our “Bible” for managing human capital. I liked it so much, I have bought over 300 copies of the book to give to colleagues, partners and clients. Awesome book.
“Every business leader should work on his or her golf game. Master this book and you can win a major. Just ask Larry Nelson. “There’s no disputing that a ton of business still gets done on the golf course. I was a tennis player growing up, and kind of looked down on golf as not being a “real sport.” What I totally missed as a kid is that learning to play at a young age is invaluable for business. Why? Because many, if not most, business people love golf. And while it’s not a requirement to carry a single-digit index, it’s important to be able to play decently and not embarrass yourself when a boss or client invites you out for a golf outing, or vice versa. Having not played until my early 20s, I found myself playing “catch up” and having to learn the game through a lot of practice, lessons, and reading books. Ben Hogan’s book is concise and simple. It teaches the basics, the fundamentals, which can not only help anyone become a decent player relatively quickly, but create a Master’s champion like Larry Nelson.
“Because nobody could put together a sentence like him. His writing is pure beauty.” Anyone who’s read Fitzgerald knows what I am talking about. I was lucky to have studied him in college and found myself reading his books twice, once for the story and once to appreciate the way he constructed his sentences. The upside is that my writing improved…a lot.
“It’s not just about making money. It’s a classic ‘how to’ guide for achieving your goals.” Countless business leaders give credit to this Napoleon Hill’s classic as a big reason for their success. The book lays out a blueprint for achieving your goals, and I like to read it and review its words of wisdom every few months.
“This book proves why companies who don’t innovate become extinct.” Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor and I recommend not only this book, but the many YouTube videos of his talks. His work is excellent and provides a lot of truth for all kinds of companies, but especially tech companies.
This post was written on March 13, 2012 and can be found on Marissa’s awesome new Blog, Successful Culture.
Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman Takes Persistence & A Commitment to Mission to New Heights
Imagine pitching your idea to 1,000 investors. Over and over and over again. A little insane, right? Not if you’re Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea. When we think of Honest Tea, we think of a delicious beverage, and a wildly successful business.
Dig a little deeper into the roots of Honest Tea, and you’ll discover an entrepreneur who is forever committed to the mission of “changing the way people eat, drink, think and live.”
Seth shared the struggles of his early days with 300 business leaders at the sold-out ConnectPreneur Event in the DC region, architected by global serial entrepreneur and angel investor Tien Wong, CEO of Lore Systems (www.lore.net).
Building an Empire One Brick at a Time
As a bootstrapped entrepreneur who has never sought outside funding, I was amazed at Seth’s relentless quest for angel investments when he launched Honest Tea. “I did over 1,000 pitches and landed 120 angel investors. I took $25,000 at a time,” Goldman said. “There were plenty of times when I was financially out of business. But you need just enough fumes to keep things going.”
The question on everyone’s mind – which was asked – was, “How did you keep going?” All entrepreneurs seek the answer to this question from others that travel the path of business ownership. What is the magic bullet -the secret sauce – that gives us the strength to keep pushing when we are seemingly out of options?
Always Return to the Mission
“What kept me going is I always believed and still believe in my mission. I believe we have to change the way we eat, drink, think, and live. Quitting was never an option.”
In addition to the initial 1,000+ calls, Goldman had to ruthlessly follow up with potential investors. Follow-up apparently is just as important as the initial contact.
“You need to be ruthless with your follow-up. You can’t ever quit. Your follow-up is a good indication of your commitment to what you are trying to build, and to your work ethic. Some we talked to for years before they came on,” he said.
Seth’s tenacity is an inspiration to anyone trying to make their entrepreneurial mark. Equally inspiring is his commitment to his core values, and his refusal to relinquish what matters most to him – providing healthy products that consumers feel good about drinking.
Coca-Cola now owns 40% of Honest Tea. The mammoth company’s management is like a bull in a china shop. This, however, doesn’t sway Goldman from his values. “Coca-Cola wanted me to remove “No High Fructose Corn Syrup!” from our labels. I asked if this was a legal or regulatory requirement, and it wasn’t,” he explained.
Goldman continued, “Because their products contain this ingredient, our label wasn’t a positive reflection of their brand. I refused to remove it it. The discussion made its way to the very top of the executive ladder, and I refused.”
Finally, Coca-Cola relented, and conceded that as a minority owner, they couldn’t force Honest Tea to remove the labeling.
All Natural Ingredients for Successful Entrepreneurship
Goldman boiled successful entrepreneurship down to the two basic tenets that we all inherently know: 1: A steadfast, laser-focused, driven commitment to what we are building, in which we will do whatever we need to succeed, and 2: A passionate belief in the change we are trying to make.
Thanks to Tien Wong (follow him on Twitter: @tienwong, and subscribe to his blog – Winning Ideas at (https://tienwong.wordpress.com/) for helping to quench the entrepreneurial thirst for learning with a great event!
And thanks to Seth Goldman (@HonestTea) for showing us what happens when you never ever ever ever ever give up.
“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” ~Napoleon Hill