What To Do When Your Job Isn’t Paying You Enough

Over the last seven years, the median American income has been on a slow decline from $56,436 to $51,939. While the average yearly raise of 3% may be compelling to some, others are scrambling for ways to to drastically increase their income.  The average American debt is increasing greatly while income is decreasing. That means, more Americans are looking for creative alternatives for additional income. In today’s economy, it’s not enough to simply work hard and hope for better wages. It is imperative to leverage your skills and talents in creative ways to make extra money. I call this being an employeepreneur.

Employeepreneurs are able to use their existing skills and find other outlets to gain extra income. Most people are supporting a full-time life using less than 5% of their skill set.  Consider the accountant who makes six figures or more analyzing data and crunching numbers. Though those are  small aspects of their skill set, the don’t represent everything they are capable of accomplishing.  Or consider the engineer who uses critical thinking, computer  software, and problem solving skills to design parts for offshore oil rigs.  These are critical skills to have, but don’t represent the other facets of the individual that may include administration, negotiation, or other skills. These other skills, if honed and marketed correctly, can prove to be  powerful assets to make well above the annual 3% raise that some employees have become accustomed to. A modern day employee must use their additional skills to maximize there income earning potential. Here are my suggestions for proven ways to do just that.

Blogging

Blogging has gone from a niche hobby to a multimillion dollar industry. It has catipulted former CEOs, college students and moms into full-time entrepreneurs. If launched and developed correctly, your expertise can be used to position yourself as an expert voice in the marketplace. Blogging gives you the flexibility to make money on your time, create an incredible following, and maximize the potential for passive income. If you have a particular subject that you are passionate about, consider creating a niche blog to articulate your thoughts about it.

How to Make Money

Blogging is for building a following and products are what will make you the real money. Unless you have hundreds of thousands of people coming to your blog every month, advertising traffic alone won’t be enough to generate a significant income. The products you develop and sale based on your personal expertise is where the real value of blogging comes in handy. By developing a consistent following, they will see you as an expert and consider buying the products you have for sale. Other ways you can make money blogging include sponsorships, affiliate links,  and product reviews (if you get paid to do them).

Consulting

Growing up, I never knew what a consultant actually did, it just sounded really cool to me. As I got older, I learned that consulting in niche industries could actually be big business. Consulting is simply getting paid to give expert advice on just about anything.  Technically, anyone could become a consultant if there is a need for the advice. Consulting gives you the perfect opportunity to take the skills you have developed for years and find people who are willing to pay you to advise them.  If you can find a problem that a group of people desperately need help fixing and you have the skills to do it, it could be a perfect opportunity for you to consult. Just make sure what you are consulting about  doesn’t compete with the company products and services you are working for.

How to Make Money

Consultants typically get paid per hour or with a monthly fee depending on how extensive the consulting is. They usually send a proposal of what they will do based on what the client needs and then perform those services while checking with the client throughout the process. The most common fear I hear from people about consulting is that they don’t know enough about anything to get paid to consult. We are all experts at something. We simply have to discover what people are willing to pay for. One thing I recommend is to keep a list of problems you solve everyday for someone else. At work, is there something that everyone in the office always depend on YOU to know how to do? Is there a topic that friends and family always ask your advice on?  Does something come easier for you that you noticed is very difficult for others around you? These could all be things that, with development, bring in income through consulting.

Writing

Whether it’s writing a book or an article for a publication , writing can be a really great way to make money. Don’t just think traditional writing however. You can get paid to write business plans, proposals,  financial statements and so much more. Anything that you have gotten paid to write on a regular basis could potentially be something someone would pay you to write for them. Did you write a winning grant proposal for a non-profit you formerly worked at? Your experience could be used in writing another one for a new organization. Do you get trade publications about your industry sent to your office? Perhaps you can submit an article to them detailing something that hasn’t been featured. Writing, like blogging positions you as an expert and positions you to be compensated you for what you have learned over the years.

How to Make Money

The first place to start making money writing is to review things you have already been paid to write. If there are documents you have written that have led a present or former company to generating income or landing a deal, those same skills could be used to do it for another company. Maybe you can consider writing proposals for smaller companies outside of your current employers competition. Again, make sure to review your company guidelines to ensure you aren’t doing anything that could endanger your employment. Websites like Fiverr  andTimeetc give you the advantage of writing and editing from home and they  help bring the clients to you. Freelancewriting.com has a great compilation of other freelance sites you can use to apply for paid gigs. Last, if you are looking to write a book, the best place to get it published for free is Createspace. You only get charged a percentage of every book sold.

The beautiful thing about being an employeepreneur is that you get to control how much or how little you make on the side. Unlike a regular job, you can grow your business as large as you like without any limits. Employees are increasingly looking for creative ways to use their skills to increase their income. These suggestions hopefully will give you the jumpstart you need to build a life of financial freedom.

3 Mistakes Not to Make on a Job Interview

Only 2% of job candidates make it to the interview according to Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts. That means, more than ever, job seekers have to be intentional about maximizing the interview and what happens during it. Interviews don’t have to be scary. You are simply answering questions about yourself. The more prepared you are, the better interview will go. These three things are common mistakes that applicants make in the interview. By understanding why they happen and learning how to overcome them, they will help you ace any job interview.

You gave too much of the wrong information.

“Tell me about yourself” may be one of the most common requests every job interviewer asks a potential employee. You may think offering information about your family, your childhood and your personal interests is the way the go, but all of these responses may spell disaster. Many of my students get extremely nervous about this question. They shouldn’t be. Keep the information you provide as professional as possible. They aren’t asking about your personal life. They want to know more information about you relevant to the job. An acronym I like to use to help with this is W.E.W.:

Work– Even though they have your resume of former job history, try telling them about some of your key accomplishments at a former job. Did you increase sales or develop team members? Did you create a new program or make the company more efficient? These are all things you can dive deeper into on an interview.

Education – Highlighting your success in school is great information to talk about in a job interview. Anything involving  success in leadership, communications or academic honors are worthy to be discussed. Things like perfect attendance or a high GPA are good things to communicate as well.

Why – Why did you choose the industry you are going into? Communicating this to potential prospects is a great way to reveal your passion for the position. Maybe you have a relevant story from your life that relates to the industry or you have family that worked in the industry that got you interested in the job. All of this information helps paint a stronger picture for why you are invested in the job.

Your values didn’t align with theirs.

When was the last time you had a value examination? Companies aren’t just looking for someone to do duties, but someone who is passionate about what they stand for. A good interviewer can always discern the difference between a candidate who just wants money versus a candidate who is passionate about what the company represents. It’s not enough to find a good company that pays well. You are essentially becoming apart of a corporate family. Just like a real family, companies want to make sure everyone joining them havw the same goals.

Take some time to write down your personal and professional values and make sure to cross reference them with the core values of the companies you are applying to. Try to only apply for companies with similar values as your own. Next, write down real examples of how you have exemplified those values in your professional career. This information will provide great reference material to use on the interview.

You didn’t follow up.

Following up is critical to ensuring you land the job after the interview. The first, most obvious follow up is sending a handwritten thank you note to the interviewer 1-2 days after the interview. The goal is to ensure the note gets to the company before a decision has been made. As common as this advice is, you wouldn’t believe how many people I meet who still don’t do it. This automatically makes you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants and helps you to be memorable well after the interview. If you want to add something extra, consider buying bagels, attaching the card to the box, and delivering it to the company’s office or e-mailing a quick 1 minute slideshow video presentation summarizing your strengths after the interview.

After your thank you card has been sent, your next step is to call your company back. The thank you card becomes a perfect excuse to call them. By simply following up to make sure the interviewer received the card, you can use the opportunity to thank them again for the interview and remind them why you are a perfect fit for the position. I recommend to not stop calling the employer until the position is filled. Once a week should be a sufficient time frame to check in.

Interviews are your opportunity to show off your skills, talent and brilliance. By doing your homework on the company and most importantly, yourself, you will find that answering the questions asked aren’t difficult. Prepare yourself now to make sure that every interview you have turns out for your benefit.

How to Get A Mentor

Perhaps the most valuable assets in my life are my mentors. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for their amazing encouragement, motivation and wisdom.There are several types of mentors you can have in your personal or professional life. Mentors simply pull you to the place they have already arrived. They encourage you based on the wisdom they have learned from experience and education. Everyone needs a mentor who has already “arrived” at the destination they are headed. If you are in need of a mentor, use these simple steps to help you find one.

STEP ONE

Understand your next major step. Mentoring is all about shaping you towards your next step. Before you can find someone to help you get there, you have to be specific about where you are headed. Don’t just consider your long term goals (i.e. become a Grammy award winning musician) Think about what is your next major step is to get you there (i.e. produce your first album) and find the most successful person in your network that has already arrived at place to get you there. You will have a lot better results that way.

STEP TWO

Connect to the individual. This is the part that takes skill. More than likely, you want them to mentor you because they have become successful at what you would like to do or become one day. Thus, they are probably very busy. It is important to understand who the person is to make your first connection the most impactful. Research them as much as you can before approaching them. What are their values? What motivates them in life? Have they mentored other people you know? Knowing these things will make connecting to them much smoother. You can then finally contact them. There are three major ways of connecting to potential mentor:

  • SERVING: One of the easiest ways of connecting to someone you want to mentor you is serving them. This can be either volunteering to help at their company or organization, doing an internship, or offering something from your vault of value that you have discovered could add value to them. Serving helps you indirectly (and sometimes directly) learn from them. It also allows them to become familiar with you, your work ethic and your personality. Those things could potentially open the door to further relationship.
  • THIRD PARTY CONNECTION: The age-old saying, “Is not what you know, but who you know,” is often times more right than wrong. Who do you not only know, but consider passionate about your value and who you are that would be willing to connect you to an individual? Sometimes, a meeting between the three of you to introduce you or an e-mail sent by your third party introducing you to them may be all you need to start the relationship. It is important that the third party accurately communicates the purpose of the introduction, however. Not doing so could lead to false expectations.
  • JUST ASK: Sometimes, you are already in the same sphere with the potential mentor that just simply asking them would be appropriate. Judge carefully however.  Timing is crucial for this method and so is the relationship you have. Again, remember you are working within their time availability and not your own. Make sure you are clear about your expectations and what you desire from a mentoring relationship to ensure they can properly provide it.

STEP THREE

Measure your growth. Once the connection has been made and relationship began, begin to intentionally steward the information gleaned from the mentor. Be proactive in measuring your growth with them and regularly updating them on how what they are teaching you is adding value to your life. Mentors love to know their knowledge is having a tangible impact.

It is also good to be aware when you stop growing from their wisdom. At that point, your relationship may not end with them, but your mentorship probably would. Be honest with yourself and realize when it’s time to move on.

Mentoring relationships can help maximize the potential of what you can become and accelerate your rate of getting there. By actively cultivating these relationships, you as a result cultivate your successfulness at reaching your goals.

Turn A Job You Hate Into a Career You Love

With so much of our lives being centered around our careers, it is important that we love what we do. However, what if you hate your current job? Apparently, most Americans do.  According to a 2013 Gallup poll, 63% of employees are disengaged with their jobs, and 24% are actively disengaged.  This means over 80% of employees are in some way dissatisfied with their current place of employment. A job doesn’t have to be a prison, however. It truly can be a place that you have a passion to work at. By leveraging the assets of

your current job, you can turn a job you hate into a career you love.

To do this, first start by asking yourself these two questions: “Why am I working here?” and “How is this adding value to where I am going?” If money is the only motivation for you to stay, you will always hate what you do. When you love what you do, no one ever has to tell you to do it well. When you work in something you are passionate about, it always increases productivity. That passion may not be in the job itself, but there may be other benefits for sticking it out. Consider these things before you decide to call it quits.

FLEXIBILITY

You may hate your job, but it gives you the perfect schedule to work on your passion. Whether it is school, a side business, or simply building your family, focusing on that will motivate you to press through the daily grind. If your work schedule allows you the extra time needed to build your dream, it may be a perfect opportunity to help you transition until your side opportunity replaces your job income.

RESOURCES

You may hate your job, but the company you work for gives you access to exclusive resources. Whether it is equipment you borrow for your own projects (i.e. printers or copiers), facilities that are available for employee use (i.e. a gym or meeting rooms), software you can be use for free, or something else, many companies provide unique perks for the employees that work for them. Take some time to review your employee handbook to see what is available. Can you find a way to leverage the resources towards something you are passionate about? I remember one of the perks I had at a former company was tuition reimbursement for college. This helped me to fund my dream of completing school and motivated me to continue working for the organization even when I didn’t feel like coming to work. Make sure, however, that if you choose to use a resource for personal reasons, it is not against company policy.

SKILLS

You may hate your job, but you get to develop your skills like never before. Many larger companies offer extensive training and development opportunities to help you become better at your job. This training may be used in other areas as well. Ask your employer about the training that is available, and decide if you can translate those skills to help you with your goals. Whether it is training for a specific skill in your company or more general development, those opportunities can be added to your resume and leveraged to make you stand out for future career opportunities. They may provide just the experience you need to make it to your next career goal or even start a business.

PEOPLE

You may hate your job, but the people are great. Whether it is your co-workers, your customers, or your management, those you work with may be your ticket to the next major step in your life. The amazing thing about work is that your skills, character, and personality are put on display for everyone to see. Those who notice it the most are those who work the closest with you. The people you serve with every day could possibly recommend you for another opportunity or provide you a connection for something else you have always wanted to do. Get to know your co-workers, management and customers well. They could be a connection you need to move forward. Never be afraid to share your desire to explore a different position within your current company with management as well. If they are aware that you would like to consider another position, you may be simply one conversation away from a promotion.

If you can’t leverage at least two out of four of these from your current occupation, it may be time to consider a new one. No one should be miserable at work. Use your job now to bridge where you are going later.

How To Ask For A Raise and Get It

It is no secret that more employees are looking for ways to increase their income. Although there are a variety of ways to make more money, the first place you should start is with maximizing the income of your current job. Typically, your salary is the largest and most consistent income you get every month. Thus, increasing it gives you consistent earnings that you can use to reach your financial goals faster. Getting a raise could be just thing you need to put you in a financially healthier position. Though it can seem like tricky business, if you apply the following tips, you may just get the extra income you have been needing.

Check Your W-4 

It is quite possible that the extra money you need you may already be getting, it’s just not coming to you every month. Depending on what you put on your W-4 when you started your job, you may be allowing the government to withdraw more money than needed from your paycheck. Check to see if you getting the maximum amount of income possible with the number of exemptions you currently claim on your W-4. The less exemptions you claim, the more income the government withdraws from your paycheck every month. Ensure that number you have placed on it is true to your current living situation, and if it isn’t, consider correcting it.

Do Your Homework

Before you go blazing into your boss’ office asking for more money, you first need to ensure that A) the company is healthy financially and B) determine if you are already being paid at the top of your salary range. Many companies offer quarterly financial statements of the business earnings that you can review. Other signs of positive financial stability include consistent employee promotions, medium to large company purchases and expansions in services or locations. To view the average salary range in your industry, you can check websites like salary.com and glassdoor.com to see what the industry averages are in your area.

Develop Your Value 

Every company has a minimum and maximum range that they plan to invest in every position. That range indicates how valuable of an investment that particular position is to the overall growth of the company. The lower the ranges, the lower the value the company places on that job. It is your responsibility to maximize professional opportunities to increase the value you will ultimately add to the company. In today’s competitive job market, working hard, being on time, and completing your duties as required isn’t enough to get a substantial raise.Find creative ways to add greater value to your company by creatively solving unique problems. The more problems you can solve with quantifiable results, the more value you would have ultimately added to the company. Make an effort to keep copies of positive performance reviews, testimonials, survey results about your area, awards, and special recognitions. Also ask your supervisor throughout the year about things you can take from their responsibilities to make their job easier. At the end of the year during your performance review, all of these things can be used to communicate your overall value to the company and increase your chances of getting a raise.

Ask at the Right Time

Typically the best times to ask for raises are during performance reviews and after excelling at new responsibilities. These situations naturally put your value front and center to your employer and gives you definite talking points for why you are worth more than your current wage.

Asking for a raise doesn’t have to be scary or complicated. It is simply about communicating your value, and gaining additional income based on the added value you are bringing to your employer. Without you, your employer couldn’t generate the revenue they need to provide a sustainable and healthy business. Know your worth and get the value you deserve from the work you do.

What other tips would you suggest for getting a raise? Answer in the comments below.

5 Steps to Becoming a Millionaire

I’ve always wanted to be successful. I mean really successful. Being raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods in my hometown can do that to a kid. Being homeless on the street with my mom, aunt, cousin and sister can do that as well. The frustration I felt watching my single mom day in and day out work two and often three jobs was motivating for me. I didn’t completely know what I would do growing up, but I DID know whatever it was, I would want to make enough money to support my mom. I hated seeing her work so hard, but make so little. Years later, I still haven’t fully arrived at my goal for my mother, but I am definitely taking steps to get there.

During this journey, however, I have had many  “success” opportunities presented to me. Many of these come wrapped in “secrets” or “keys” that have led thousands to incredible wealth. For just X number of thousands of dollars, they can help you “unlock” their secrets to become as successful as they are. I can appreciate incredible wisdom and great mentoring. I have had the rare opportunity to be mentored and poured into by a few successful, highly productive, and amazingly driven people. I wouldn’t replace the lessons I have learned from them at all.  What I don’t appreciate are people who try to convince you their path to success should be the rule for success for everyone. “Just do my PROVEN three-step process and you will become successful!” many say. “Buy my product series and you too can be making thousands” others tell you.

After comparing many of these people with successful people that I actually DO admire (and even have had the opportunity to talk to a few), I realized a stark difference in what, for me, real success was. The people I truly admire exemplified certain success attributes and truly accelerated their influence, finances, and life using them. So I have extracted from my conversations and observations, 5 key values of what truly successful people do.

1.People over profits

The people I really find the most successful are those who put people before their profits. They are genuinely interested in watching others succeed regardless of what it takes. True success is about adding consistent value to as many people as possible with your unique skill set. Truly successful people aren’t trying to discover more ways to make money, but better ways to help people.

2. Excellence over easy

Time and time again, many really successful people personally NEVER set out to be successful. They enjoyed what they were doing and success naturally came. They didn’t look for a new money making project or wealth scheme, but simply did what they loved to the best of their skill and loved every part of it. The more they perfected their craft, the more opportunities  came that were aligned with their passion and not just their potential profits. When you love what you do, no one will ever have to tell you to do it well. You will be compelled to.

3. Systems over sweat

This is HUGE one. The more people I talk to who have accelerated their success, the more I realize they are thinking about systematically scaling their value. I remember speaking with a very successful real estate agent. Even though he became successful from selling property, he exponentially accelerated his income by training other individuals through video courses and curriculum he created. Creating systems greatly reduces your workload and allows you the freedom to expand and grow your life at an incredible pace. If you can’t discover how to scale your value to influence more people, you don’t truly understand how incredibly valuable you are. Your unique worth is much more bigger than you.  Your were born to multiply what is inside of you!

4. Giving over getting 

Success isn’t built on what you can gain, but what you can give first. Perhaps this is why “secrets to success” teachings really bug me. In reality, there aren’t any. There may be better ways of doing things or managing people. There may be better ways to use technology to make a process more efficient. All success, however, comes from using YOUR unique value to help as many people as possible solve a problem you are passionate about. We may learn from other people’s journey, but we will never be able to replicate their exact destination. Because of this, the more we focus on strategically and authentically giving to others bountifully, the more we will breed opportunities towards success. Instead of always trying to hide your potential value, why not give some of it to people openly first. Giving from your value will fulfill you much more than money ever could. 

5.  Failure over fear

Everyone I know who has become successful was willing to take a risk that made them uncomfortable. It is one of the scariest feelings in the world, but it is one worth taking. I am a living testament to this. Last year, I decided to become a full-time entrepreneur. Though it hasn’t been the easiest, or more most comforting places to be at times, it still has been rewarding. I am not sure where this road will take me ultimately, but I do know that I have had to be comfortable not knowing what is next. Every person that I consider successful took risks that could have failed. Some succeeded, and many others didn’t. Success isn’t gained by doing everything right the first time, but continuing to ‘do’ when it doesn’t happen perfectly. You will never be fully ready to do anything that will help you grow. If you were, it wouldn’t truly challenge you. Don’t ever be afraid to fail.

Success is not about how quickly you become wealthy or how much money you make, but about how much value you add to those you can influence with your life.  Even though my mother worked three jobs to  financially provide for my sister and I, she provided incredible value through her love, wisdom, support and motivation to us both in moving forward in our goals. Her incredible humility and work ethic has taught that instead of pursuing wealth and accolades, we should pursue people and helping them reach their purpose as much as possible. Unlike money, assets and real estate, people are the only investments that can truly carry your legacy well beyond your lifetime.

What does success look like for you?

3 Ways to Overcome Fear

For most of my life, I had a terrifying fear. It was a fear that paralyzed me whenever I was even faced with its reality. I avoided every possible chance to face it and even worst, it was something that came so easy to everyone else.

Five years ago I encountered it one last time.

But this time, as I stood facing the swimming pool, I finally had resolve.

This time, the fear of drowning would no longer hold me hostage.

When I was younger, I was pushed into a pool. Almost drowning, I somehow recovered from the traumatic experience. That moment was always etched into my mind when I considered swimming. From then on, you couldn’t catch me beyond the 5ft area. And if I was, I was glued as closely to the pool wall as much as possible.

“Your body floats on its own!” everyone would tell me. “You won’t drown!” I was assured.

None of that convinced me to let go, however. I was convinced that I would sink despite the billions of swimmers before me that haven’t. It wasn’t until my junior year in college that I was forced to confront this fear head on. At my alma mater, if you didn’t learn to swim, you couldn’t graduate (talk about an ultimatum, right?). Our founder was so convinced that swimming was a critical skill for life, that he made it part of the requirements for graduation. Now I didn’t have a choice. if I didn’t swim, I would sink in one way or another.

It was finally time to take my swim test. I had one last moment to conquer this fear and while still afraid…I dove.

By a sheer miracle, I swam an entire lap inside of an Olympic size pool. I backstroked, font stroked and floated for two minutes to pass my test. I was relieved. This time, I WON!

Sometimes in life, there will be huge obstacles that come your way. It may seem impossible to conquer them and even though dozens of people have succeeded before you, your heart may still be afraid. Whatever those obstacles are, I simply want to encourage you….DO IT AFRAID! Take the plunge. Everything may not ever be perfect. But know that you are more than capable of overcoming every obstacle that comes. Michael Jordan once said, “Fear, like limits, are only an illusion.” The things, you are afraid of, have nowhere near the power and potential of what you are capable of. Fear robs you of today by lying to you about tomorrow. It’s not worth your time, your emotions or the incredible potential within you.

Whenever I face huge moments of fear there are three things that I always consider:

1. What is the worst that could happen?

Really consider this. Play out the most horrible situation in your mind from beginning to end. Doing this helps you to realize that it is probably not as bad as you think it is. Before diving into the pool, I considered what would happen if I did drown. And even then, there was a whole team of people ready to dive in and rescue me. I still wouldn’t die and could have always retaken the test. Think about your worst case scenario. Will you die? Can you still survive after it happens? Considering this really puts things into perspective.

2. What would happen if you DIDN’T do it?

There are some things in life you CAN do. And other things that you MUST do. Dreamstart for me is a must do. No matter what happens in the rest of my life, I am compelled to continue inspiring others through this platform. What are you must do’s? What are the things that regardless of the obstacle, you STILL will continue doing? Don’t ever abort a dream that was birthed in you for another person’s vision. I would rather spend my life knowing what happened than regretting what didn’t because I never pursued something!

3. Knowing your worth!

You are worth pursuing the dreams inside of you. To live your life not conquering your fear keeps you confined to a life of average. You were created to destroy average. You were made to be extraordinary. Fear keeps you confined to regrets, frustration, and mediocrity. Faith says you are greater than all of those things.

I know there are things in life that can make you feel terrified. I am working through one of those seasons right now. You owe to your destiny to push past all of those fears, take the plunge, and dive right into everything that is ahead of. It may not be the easiest thing to do. But it is definitely worth it in the end.

Gotta’ Crazy Idea?

It was 1965,  and  a Yale University undergraduate by the name of Frederick W. Smith had a term paper to write. Frustrated with the current transport routes, he wrote about the passenger route systems used by most airfreight shippers, which he viewed as economically inadequate. Smith detailed the need for shippers to have a system designed specifically for airfreight that could accommodate time-sensitive shipments such as medicines, computer parts and electronics. Six years later, after a frustrating encounter trying to ship his own products, Fredrick “Fred” Smith started Federal Express. It has eventually went on to become one of the world’s leading shipping and delivery companies.

Before he ever had thousands of employees, billions of dollars, and hundreds of freight vehicles, however, he simply had an idea. That idea had the capacity to create a multibillion dollar organization that feeds thousands of families, ships millions of critical packages, and impacts millions of lives.

Lesson?

Before your ideas ever form a company, they will always have the seed of a brand.  Fred’s idea started with a term paper. Who would have thought that assignment would be the foundation of a company that would change the world of shipping?  What would have happened had he concluded his idea was ludicrous? What might have resulted had he never even pursued it? His vision had extraordinary potential before it was ever practically possible.  Before he even had a clear solution, he believed it was solvable.

What ideas have you kept locked away? What have you been afraid to start because the vision seems to big? Do not ever allow fear, insecurities, or frustrations to stop you from developing your idea. Instead of discounting those crazy ideas, why not develop them? Ideas are thought investments into your future self. They are the assets to your vision . How you cultivate those ideas can change the course of your life! There are three major steps I use to manage and cultivate ideas:

1. Write them down

I typically keep a note in my phone specifically for ideas that I have. Wherever I go, I am always getting ideas for new businesses or services. The more you look for needs or gaps in your field, the easier it becomes to get new ideas. It doesn’t have to be a formal outline, just simply a thought or description should suffice. Some people may even find better value in recording their ideas as well. An app I highly recommend for note taking is Evernote. With it, you can search your notes, categorize and organize them in notebooks and much more.

2. Ask questions.

Successful products and services aren’t the result of innately brilliant thinkers, but incredibly curious minds.  People who are always asking questions usually generate great ideas. Many people are afraid of someone stealing their idea by asking people to review it. More than likely, however, your idea has already been thought by numerous of other people. Asking  intentional questions about your idea will give you a real perspective on where the market really is at. I go more into detail about how to ask here.

3.Execute

The value of an idea isn’t in the idea itself, but in the plan of execution. How you plan to uniquely tackle an idea is where the greatest value and potential comes from it. The thermostat was a pretty boring and typical household device for decades. It wasn’t broken for the most part. However, when Nest founder Tony Fadell had an idea to reinvent the device, he added a brand new value to the thermostat never before seen.

Never despise the brand inside of you. Your ideas matter. Your dreams matter. Your vision MATTERS! It’s time to finally take those crazy ideas seriously and do something with that will impact lives. An idea changed the world before. It can definitely do it again!

How to Never Fail at Anything You Start

What if you could never fail?

What if everything you started, you could ensure it was a great venture?

There is an amazing little secret to determine whether or not a business you are about to start or an endeavor you are about to pursue is worth it. This secret has been passed down for generations and I would like to share it with you. Are you ready?

ASK.

Thats right. We often times spend more time researching, planning, and building things that in reality, no one asked for in the first place. If we would simply ask the audience we are trying to pursue the value of a thing before we start something, we would get better results and ensure better success. There are of course many other factors that go into determining the success of something. Yet often, the foundation of those things is knowing what your audience needs and meeting those needs. The more you know form your audience, the more likely you can develop your business or project to their needs.  There are many ways to asking your audience and validating an idea. Over the next three posts, I will focus on three ways to do a proper ask. The first one is surveying.

Surveys for Entrepreneurship

Surveys are an amazing way to get instant feedback from your audience. With websites like Survey Monkey   and Poll Daddy  becoming more and more popular, you can easily create an online survey to get immediate responses about a particular idea. For my Dreamstart Conference last year, I used a survey in my planning process to determine what type of sessions and information would be relevant to my audience. To see a copy of it, you can click here.

I created an event for the survey on Facebook and invited all of of my friends who were relevant to my audience to take it. Through the responses I received, I was about to develop the framework for the conference and decide which sessions would be more relevant to those I was appealing to. This same method can be used for collecting responses about prices, locations, and a multitude of other things business.

Surveys for Personal Development

You can also use surveys as a way to help enhance  yourself as a person. I recently read an amazing article  about a young man who e-mailed a small survey to his closest friends. After a real encounter with himself and his own insecurities, he decided to be proactive in becoming a better person by asking them these questions:

What does it feel like to be around me when I’m at my best?
What does it feel like to be around me when I’m at my worst?
What do you admire about the way I live my life?
Are there any areas of my life that you find off-putting?
What are ways I could be a better friend?
Is there anything I could do to be a better communicator?
What do others think of me?
What’s the 10 percent you’re holding back?

The responses he received brought him into the reality of his own false perception of himself, and ultimately led him down a journey of growth, maturity and true authenticity. As a professional, gaining information from questions like these are key to ensuring you not only grow into a better person, but it also helps you become a better leader. The information obtained from a survey can help you start your next relationship or job on the right foot without bringing the baggage of past hurts into your new opportunities.

Simple Tips for Great Surveys

Ask your audience  

I know this is self explanatory, but the responses you are looking for in your surveys should be from those you are either selling to or reaching out to personally to help you. If you are using surveys for personal development, select only your closest friends who really know you to provide authentic feedback. If you are using surveys as a way to decide whether you should begin something, ask those who are MOST likely to attend the event or buy the product.

Ask A Lot of People

The more responses you get, the better your results will be and the more likely you will know how to decide. Social media has completely made it limitless on the amount of people you can reach out to for a survey. Share it with friends on your social media outlets and ask them to share it with their friends. The more quality responses you get, the better.

Incentivize the Survey

People love free stuff and are more likely to participate if you offer it to them. Offer a free sample of a product you are developing or a discounted event ticket if you are surveying for business. For those who are doing it personally, offer to take your friends out to a free dinner or give them a free movie ticket for  taking the time to help you. Most good friends may not ever require you do any of this, but the thought behind it serves as a great gesture for building a closer relationship.

Keep it Short

Ask only the questions you need. Keep them simple and to the point. You are only asking the crucial things to validate your idea or get legitimate feedback.

Let’s Start.

Now that you have gotten great tips on surveys, I would challenge you to start your first one today. Sign up for Survey Monkey or simply create one to send to your friends. Instead of worrying about whether you will fail at your next endeavor, really take a small step forward to start.