Want To Sell More? Reverse The Risk!

Want the formula for more sales?
 
Here it is…
 
PV > PR = Sale
 
(Read on to find out what that means…)
 
As a pilot and aircraft owner, one of the most important responsibilities I have is managing and reducing the RISK for myself and my passengers.
 
The same principles apply in business and marketing…
 
One of the biggest barriers selling more of your products and services is the RISK involved on the part of your buyer.
 
Think about it…
 
Particularly if this is their first purchase from you…
 
Giving their credit card information and hard-earned money to a person or company they have never done business with before is a risky proposition in their mind.
 
They come into the transaction with an inherent level of mistrust, fear, and skepticism.
 
And the higher the price of your product or service, the greater the level of perceived risk in your potential buyer’s mind.
 
This is why $7 “Trip Wire” (personally dislike that term) or “Free Plus Shipping” offers are so popular at the front end of many funnels.
 
The low price point reduces the perceived risk in the minds of your buyers.
 
They say to themselves, “If I get ripped-off, so what? It’s only $7!”
 
The perceived value outweighs the perceived risk.
 
In fact, your prospects WILL NOT BUY until the “Perceived Value” (PV) outweighs the “Perceived Risk” (PR).
 
It is a simple and reliable formula.
 
PV > PR = Sale
PV < PR = No Sale
 
It is predictable and binary.
 
And it works EVERY TIME!
 
As long as the perceived risk of taking you up on your offer is lower than the perceived value, they will buy. Period.
 
And it’s often NOT the loss of the money that is the true “risk” in the transaction.
 
For many, if not most, prospects…
 
It is the risk of looking or feeling stupid that is the REAL psychological risk in most offers.
 
Nobody wants to feel or look stupid…
 
(That’s a big reason why “IQ Test Offers” are so powerful!)
 
Money can be replaced…
 
Loss of STATUS (or self-confidence) on the other hand, is a MUCH bigger “cost” than the loss of a little (or even a lot) of cash.
 
So, with this in mind, what can we as marketers do to reduce or reverse the perceived (and actual) risk in the offers we make?
 
There are 2 main ways we can do this…
 
The first one should be simple and obvious to anyone who is marketing with integrity.
 
(However, just a quick look online at some of the scammy, spammy offers being made it is apparently not that “obvious”.)
 
1st Way to Reduce or Reverse the Risk is…
 
Actually, DELIVER more REAL (not just “perceived”) value than you are charging.
 
Make your offer and the delivery of it SO GOOD that the real risk to the prospect is what they will lose if they DON’T buy.
 
Stack the value proposition so far in the favor of your buyer it becomes what I call an “IQ Test” offer.
 
Now the SECOND way to reverse the risk in buying from you is…
 
Have a KILLER Guarantee!
 
Craft a guarantee so strong, it transfers the risk in the transaction from the shoulders of your buyer, onto YOUR shoulders as the seller.
 
These are NOT the weak, standard “Money Back” or “100% Satisfaction” guarantees you see most people using.
 
Satisfaction is EXPECTED! It shouldn’t be something that you have to guarantee.
 
Your customers are not buying for “satisfaction”.
 
They are buying from you for RESULTS!
 
The best guarantees should SCARE you a bit as a seller.
 
You should be a bit worried that people are going to abuse the guarantee and rip YOU off!
 
And guess what? Some WILL!
 
However, I can reassure you (in most markets) the small percentage of dishonest, low integrity people who will abuse your guarantee…
 
Will be MORE than overcome by the significantly higher conversion rates you will have among the honest (but still skeptical) people who do take you up on your offer.
 
The only 2 scenarios where I have seen a killer guarantee get abused to the point it impacted profitability is when marketers either ignored rule #1:
 
Actually, DELIVER more REAL (not just “perceived”) value than you are charging.
 
Or… They were operating in a market (or marketing in a way) that attracts low-integrity, abusive buyers.
 
As most people who have been following me for any length of time know, I am a FANATICAL TESTER…
 
I’ve personally run over 20,000 split tests, in nearly every market or niche imaginable.
 
And guarantees are one area I’ve done a TON of testing.
 
In nearly every case, adding a strong guarantee has increased conversion rates.
 
However, a few of the more surprising things I’ve discovered over the years, testing guarantees are…
 
Increasing the guarantee LENGTH in most cases, not only increases conversion rates, but it also frequently REDUCES refunds!
 
Yes… You read that right.
 
A longer guarantee window, can actually LOWER the number of refund requests you get.
 
(Particularly in e-commerce or selling physical goods.)
 
At first, this data seemed counter-intuitive to me.
 
You would think that going from a 14-day return window to a 90-day window would cause you to get MORE refunds, not less.
 
However, in test after test, I saw the same data…
 
Longer guarantee = Lower refunds
 
But it took me a while to figure out WHY!
 
The reason (at least my theory) is…
 
When you only give somebody 7 or 14 or even 30 days to decide to keep or return/refund your product, they often have to make the decision before they even really use or try the product.
 
They see that they only have a day or two left, realize they haven’t used the “thing” they bought yet, and so they just make a snap decision to ask for a refund.
 
However, when you give them 60 days, 90 days or even a full year to decide, it takes the pressure off them making the keep/refund decision, and they often procrastinate returning or asking for a refund.
 
They then either forget about it, or often with LONG guarantees like a 1-year or Lifetime, they actually feel embarrassed or silly asking for their money back a year after buying something.
 
(Disclaimer: Check with your merchant account to see what the maximum refund window they allow. Often, they get nervous if you offer more than 90-days.)
 
The only area I’ve seen longer guarantees cause slightly elevated refunds is in higher-ticket offers (typically $2k+).
 
There are a few dishonest, low-integrity people who look at a guarantee on a high-ticket offer a bit like a “savings account”.
 
If one month they are short on cash, and getting desperate to make rent…
 
They start “brainstorming” ways to raise some quick cash and remember that they can ask for a refund and basically “steal” the money back from you.
 
However, as frustrating as those isolated cases can be, the boost in response still makes a longer-guarantee worth it in most situations.
 
A strong guarantee assures prospects that you believe in the quality and effectiveness of what you are offering.
 
One of my core teachings is, “Persuasion is a transfer of BELIEF and EMOTION which leads another person to take the ACTION you desire.”
 
Of course, in order to transfer the belief in your product or service, you need to first HAVE a deep belief in its power to actually add value to your buyer’s lives.
 
One of the most effective ways to transfer that belief is through your guarantee.
 
You want your guarantee to be so strong that it injects the thought into your reader/viewer’s internal mental dialog, “Wow… This person REALLY believes in and backs up the effectiveness of what they are selling!”
 
Besides testing LONGER guarantee windows, I suggest testing what I call “Giving Your Guarantee’s TEETH”.
 
What I mean by that is…
 
Make a “better than money back” guarantee.
 
A guarantee so strong that if your product or service DOESN’T deliver the promised value, not only do they get their money back, they get something extra.
 
These can be “double your money back” guarantees…
 
Return the product, but “keep the bonuses” guarantees…
 
If you don’t get “X”, I’ll give you “Y” guarantees…
 
You don’t pay me until I get you “X Result” guarantees…
 
The ways you can give your guarantees “teeth” is limited only by your imagination (and ability to DELIVER on your promises.)
 
The key is, to make it so strong that if you, your product or your service doesn’t work, the guarantee will “bite you in the backside”!
 
(Hence the “teeth” part!) ?
 
For example, in a recent offer I made, my guarantee was:
 
Because I’ve NEVER found a single webinar or VSL where I couldn’t improve sales or beat the “control”, I’m so confident in the absolute TRANSFORMATION that will happen in your sales and profitability I’m going to give you a true “IQ Test” guarantee…
 
I’m putting MY MONEY (and more valuable to me MY TIME) where my mouth is…
 
When you grab one of the 4 open spots, I absolutely GUARANTEE my recommendations will boost your sales by a MINIMUM of 50% or not only will I give you 100% of your money back, I’ll cut you a check for an additional $1,000 out of my own pocket for wasting your time!
 
So basically, the ONLY way you won’t make more money, is if you don’t invest in transforming your funnel today.
 
How’s that for “teeth”? ?
 
Look…
 
If you don’t have enough faith in the ability of your product or service to deliver the promised results for you buyers… that you would be comfortable offering a strong risk reversal with real teeth in it, then you need to go back and improve your product or service.
 
Of course, to protect from abuse of the guarantee you CAN make it contingent on them actually proving that they followed through and used the product or service.
 
However, the important part is doing everything you can to move as much (if not all) of the risk in the transaction from the buyer’s shoulders, onto YOUR shoulders.
 
So, go ahead and test giving your guarantee some results based TEETH and see what happens.
 
See ya at the TOP! ?
-Eric

The Top 7 Lessons I’ve Learned From $500,000,000 in Webinar and VSL Sales

Yep. You read that right… Between my client’s and my own webinars and VSLs, the copy I’ve written has produced 1/2 BILLON dollars in sales.

Granted, I’ve been at this a while, and have written and developed a TON of offers for some very big clients.

However, being involved with projects, offers and funnels that have produced those kinds of numbers gives a person a unique insight into what works and what doesn’t when selling with online video.

As part of the content, I’m putting together for my upcoming 3-day event, my “Advanced Online Video Persuasion Masterclass”… I sat down and analyzed dozens of the biggest winning webinars and VSLs I’ve played a part in over the past 15+ years.

So, I thought I’d share 7 of the top lessons I’ve learned over that time about selling via webinar or VSL.

For you “advanced” or “seasoned” marketers, some of these things may seem obvious or just the “basics”…

However, real MASTERY (and results) don’t come from finding a few “tricks” or “gimmicks”. Real results come from MASTERING the basics.

In martial arts, there is a wise saying…

“Don’t fear the man who has practiced 10,000 different punches 1 time. Fear the man who has practiced ONE punch 10,000 times.”

So with that said, here are the Top 7 Lessons…

1) Know Your Target Customer: This goes so much deeper than just writing a “customer avatar” and listing some demographics. The marketers who break into 8-figure+ land invest hours and hours on the phone interviewing prospects and buyers in their market.

We learn EVERYTHING we can about our target buyers… Their hopes, dreams, fears, frustrations, political leanings, magazines they read, TV shows they watch… EVERYTHING!

And often, some of the best copy, ads and headlines come DIRECTLY word-for-word from transcripts of these interviews. Pay close attention to not just WHAT they tell you, but the EXACT words and language they use to describe their problems and aspirations.

Because once you can describe their problem and pain better than they can, they will automatically grant you permission and authority to then SOLVE the problem!

Which brings us to #2…

2) Sell The CURE to Their REAL Pain and REAL Problems: Without exception, every single offer I’ve seen scale into the 8-figures via webinar or VSLs was selling to an audience or target market that was in REAL and IMMEDIATE pain. We are not selling band-aids for paper cuts… We are selling to what my copywriting mentor Gary Halbert called “A STARVING crowd!”

And we are not selling something that “masks the symptoms” or provides temporary, incremental relief… Or worse yet “prevention”… We are selling the PERMANENT CURE to the ONE THING that is keeping them awake at night.

Every product or service solves a problem… However, the BIG money only comes from solving BIG problems.

3) Make an Irresistible, “IQ Test” Offer: My rule is, your offer must be so strong that if a prospect REALLY understands the value proposition, and they don’t buy… They feel stupid for passing it up. You want to stack the value SO FAR in favor of your buyer, they feel foolish not to buy.

While I teach my clients there are 5 different components of an IQ test offer, one of the most important of those 5 is your risk reversal (guarantee.) If you can make your guarantee SO STRONG that it FULLY moves the risk in the transaction from the shoulders of the buyer, to the shoulders of the seller your sales and conversions will skyrocket.

You want your viewer to think to themselves, “With a guarantee THAT strong, these people would go broke if the product/service didn’t work!”

Another of the 5 components of my “IQ Test Offers” are adding bonuses that are so strong they can be (and often are) stand-alone products that sell for more by themselves than the total investment for this offer.

Bonuses shouldn’t be an afterthought… They should add massive, complementary value to the core product or service.

4) Develop a “Competition Proof” UVP (Unique Value Proposition): You’ve probably heard about the importance of having a good USP (Unique Selling Proposition) …

But personally, I prefer to call mine UVP’s… Unique VALUE Propositions. This is a subtle but critically important distinction. USP puts the emphasis on “selling”. UVP puts the emphasis on VALUE. And that makes ALL the difference in the world.

That’s because money itself is a measure of exchanged VALUE. The more VALUE you deliver and communicate, the more money you’ll make as a natural result.

So, a true UVP communicates a VALUE that is so one-of-a-kind, so unique and different, you are basically inventing a new category. Your UVP explains why everything they have tried hasn’t worked up to this point, why YOUR solution is not just a “better” choice, it’s the ONLY choice.

5) Relentlessly and Continually Test EVERYTHING: There is not ONE single 8+ figure offer I’ve found where the client wasn’t OBSESSIVELY FOCUSED on split-testing.

And not just testing a few headlines or price points, one or two times… But CONTINUALLY testing each and every touch point and element in the entire sales process.

Testing what I call the “micro-conversions”. Each decision point… Each potential click… Every webinar slide or VSL scene… Is an opportunity to optimize and improve conversions.

And the best part is… Each of the micro-conversion improvements creates a compound effect with the other improvements.

So, a 5% boost on the registration page, a 5% boost in show up rate, a 5% boost in stick rate, a 5% boost in conversion rate… Doesn’t add up to just a 20% boost in conversions… Those improvements compound with each other for a MUCH bigger total boost in sales!

6) Communicate With and Persuade The Subconscious Mind: I’m sure you’ve heard that people “buy with emotion, and justify with logic”, which is 100% true.

However, what most “gurus” fail to teach is HOW to most effectively trigger those desired emotions, or even WHICH emotions are the most effective to engage.

According to the “Triune Brain Theory” the human brain is composed of 3 distinct structures layered onto each other.

At the root is the “Lizard brain” which is the oldest and most primitive brain structure. This is where your base level, fight, flight, hunger, anger, fear and sexual desire feelings reside.

The next higher structure is the mammalian brain (or mid-brain.) This area of the brain is newer, and more developed. It is the seat of our “higher” emotions such as love, happiness, joy and hope.

And the highest level and newest brain structure is the neo-cortex. This is the ONLY part of our brain that processes verbal language. It is also the seat of our logic and reasoning.

Because the lower parts of the brain cannot process language and words, just images and feelings, to properly communicate with those deeper level structures (where the emotional buying decision is made) we must use stories, metaphors, and imagery.

It’s only AFTER leading the lower brain structures and subconscious to an emotional buying decision, do we then appeal to the neo-cortex to justify the decision via logic and reason.

7) Master Video-Based Persuasion and Presentation Skills: Far too many “copywriters” are applying tactics and language structures that were developed for WRITTEN copy and communication, to video-based persuasion channels like webinars and VSLs.

And this USED to work “okay”…

However, to compete in today’s competitive, video-persuasion market, you have to step up your game. Particularly if you want to break into 8+ figures.

You’ll be much more effective with your webinars and VSLs by studying Billy Mays informercials, than you will copying Gary Halbert, print salesletters. (As much as I loved and learned from Gary!)

With video-based persuasion, you need as much focus on the imagery, background elements, audio quality, vocal tone, speaking pace, cadence, and body language, as you do on the words that are being said.

The tone of voice, vocal emotion and verbal CERTAINTY of specific phrases can make a DRASTIC difference in response rates and sales.

I’ve split tested 2 different speakers (voice talent) to do voice-overs of the exact same copy and had one speaker convert 500%+ better than the other, using the same script.

So HOW you say things on video is often just as or more important than WHAT you say.

So, there you have it…

The Top 7 Lessons I’ve Learned From $500,000,000 in Webinar and VSL Sales!

Again, if you read through any of these and thought to yourself, “I already knew that” stop and ask yourself a couple of questions…

  • Are you REALLY doing ALL 7 of these things in your offers?
  • And if you are… Are you focused on them, and practicing them to a level of MASTERY?
  • How many hours have you spent on the phone in the past 30 days interviewing your target customers?
  • How deeply do you REALLY understand their fears, hopes and dreams?
  • Do you know the top 3 things they DON’T like about buying products or services like yours?
  • Is your offer REALLY an IQ test?
  • Do the prospects who don’t or can’t invest ACTUALLY feel like they are missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime?
  • Have you FULLY reversed the risks involved (and not just financial) in buying from you?
  • (Often the risk of looking or feeling foolish is a bigger reason they don’t buy than the loss of the money they invest.)
  • Have you fully identified your UVP (Unique Value Proposition) to a level and in a way that your prospects KNOW you are not just the “best” but the ONLY option they have to solve their problem?
  • Could any other competitor use the same UVP and it make sense?
  • How many test rounds have you run on each step in your funnel in the past 30 days?
  • Do you even have ANY split tests running? (Be honest with yourself here…)
  • Are you effectively communicating with all 3 of your prospects brain structures?
  • Which part of your VSL or webinar is focused on “lizard brain” triggers?
  • What imagery are you trying to use to communicate with the mammalian brain?
  • What WORDS are you using to help the neo-cortex justify the emotional buying decision you’ve embedded into the deeper brain structures?
  • Have you mapped out the dominant emotions you want to trigger or beliefs you want to install in your prospect’s subconscious?
  • Where would you rank you (or your voice/on-screen talent) in regard to your MASTERY of video-based persuasion?
  • How about vocal tone, pacing and inflection?
  • Do you story-board and plan out each “scene” in your VSL at both a strategic and tactical level?
  • Does every image or background element in your video carry a specific persuasive purpose?

If you can’t answer YES to all of those questions…

Perhaps you don’t (yet) have the level of mastery of the “basics” you thought you did.

Which is fine… If you want to make an offer that does a few hundred thousand dollars… You probably don’t need to focus this obsessively on mastering all 7 areas I mentioned above.

However, I have not seen ONE SINGLE webinar or VSL based offer scale into 8+ figures without EVERY SINGLE one of these elements in place.

Sure, there are a few offers I can think of that scaled to 7 figures on the strength of just one or two of the above. (Usually an IQ Test offer.)

But the unfortunate part for those marketers is… If they engaged all 7 of these (particularly a commitment to continual, ongoing testing), they could be doing 10x the volume they are currently doing.

Often an offer that works GOOD out of the gate, costs you more (opportunity cost) long-term than one that doesn’t quite break even.

That’s because when an offer works good… You put $1 in ads and get $1.5 to $2 out, you don’t bother testing and just scale your spend.

However, had you relentlessly focused on testing and implementing ALL 7 of the lessons above, perhaps you could have had a funnel that produces $5 or $10 or $50 (LTV) for every $1 of ad spend.

So, whether you are just getting started, or you’re an online-marketing veteran, hopefully, you can see how MASTERY of these 7 Lessons can dramatically improve your results with webinars, video salesletters or any other kind of online video-based persuasion.

If you found these 7 Lessons helpful I’d love to hear what you found most valuable (or any questions you may have) in the comments below!

WARNING: What YOU Value is NOT Necessarily the Same Thing Your CUSTOMER Values

Value Price Scale ConceptI talk and teach a lot about “value”.

“Creating Massive Value” is even the core topic of the current book I’m writing.

And there is a very good reason I place such a strong focus and emphasis on creating and delivering value.

Because, at the end of the day… “Money”, is simply a measure of exchanged VALUE.

So, the more value you create and the more people you deliver that value to, the more MONEY you make as a natural consequence.

However, one common mistake I see “value creators” make is ASSUMING that what they place value on, is the same thing that their clients or customers place value on.

Often, this is the farthest thing from reality.

For example, a professional fitness trainer teaching a new exercise program, may personally “value” the deep burn she gets in her muscles as a result of the workout.

She values this burn and pain in her muscles, because after years and years of intense physical training, she has have come to associate that pain with the positive results she sees in her physique.

However, if her target client is a middle-aged, overweight man who has not done a single push-up since high school gym class, leading with the “no pain, no gain” message is going to result in low sales.

That customer values ease and comfort. Unlike the fitness trainer, he does not associate pain with growth. He associates pain with… Well… PAIN!

Physical exertion, pain and discomfort is something he tries to avoid at all costs! (That’s probably why he is overweight!)

So while the professional fitness trainer places high-value on an intense, exhausting workout that “torches” every muscle in her body… Her potential client values a workout that is easy, comfortable and allows him to go at his own pace.

Sometimes, this concept is particularly hard for entrepreneurs to accept.

As entrepreneurs, most of us are hardwired for personal growth and learning. We are curious, we don’t mind taking smart risks, we understand that all real growth happens OUTSIDE of our comfort zone.

And we often get caught in the trap of thinking that most of the people we are selling to are motivated by, and value the same things we do.

However, unfortunately “most people” are NOT growth oriented. Most people do not value learning and achievement to the same level we do.

  • They would rather watch television, than read a book.
  • They would rather go to a football game or concert, than attend a seminar or workshop.
  • They value the “security and stability” of a paycheck over the excitement, achievement and potential prosperity of building a business.

Even though the wise man once said, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Guess what? At the end of the day, all most folks want is the dang fish!

Most people do not want to LEARN how to solve their problem or achieve a result… They simply want the problem SOLVED for them. They just place VALUE on the end result.

So while as entrepreneurs we may place tremendous value on the PROCESS used to create the result. And we might value learning both HOW and WHY the process works in achieving the result… In most cases, our customers and clients could care less about learning the how and why.

As a result, if we try to sell them based on the features and benefits that WE value in our product or service, it is going to turn them off and we will lose the sale.

In order to best serve our clients and customers we need to first figure out what THEY value most about our products and services. And then we must do everything in our power to tailor our offerings to deliver maximum value based on the result our clients actually want. (Not simply based on our assumptions, or what we would want ourselves.)

So how do you figure out what your target customers ACTUALLY value?

Simple… You ASK them!

Yes… Yes… I know you’ve heard it before.

You know all about the importance of “surveying your market” and building a target customer avatar.

And surveys are great… Customer avatars are valuable…

However, let me ask you this: How long has it been since YOU spoke to an actual prospect or customer on the phone when you were not trying to “sell” them something?

How long has it been since you simply spent 10-20 minuets interviewing someone in your target market, asking them about what THEY value in a product or service like yours? What is most important to them when thinking about buying what you sell? What their biggest frustrations, fears, hopes and dreams are related to your area of expertise?

If it has been longer than 30 days since you’ve last been on the phone, asking a current or potential customer these questions, then it has been too long!

As a business owner, there is no more valuable use of your time than regularly getting on the phone with those in your target market.

These calls, when done properly, will give you more insights in 20 minutes into what your market wants to buy and how they want you to sell it to them, than you could get in 20 months of product development and testing.

When you make a commitment to spending time every month conducting these interview calls, you’ll never again be at a loss for new product or service ideas or marketing “hot buttons” for ad copy.

And best of all… The ideas you get will not be based on any kind of “guess work” on your part, they will all be based on what your market has already raised their hand and told you they want to buy!

(I can almost guarantee you that your competition is NOT doing this!)

So if you want to grow your business rapidly and make the maximum amount of money possible, then you need to figure out how to deliver the maximum amount of VALUE to those you serve.

There is no better or faster way to do that, than by getting on the phone (or Skype) and ASKING them what THEY value most.

I can guarantee you, when done properly and consistently, these calls will absolutely transform your business!

Now GO GET ON THE PHONE!

Eric

P.S. – Because I never teach something I don’t actually DO in my own businesses and companies, I’d love to spend 10-20 minutes on the phone with YOU!

So if you are a full-time entrepreneur or business owner, I’ve blocked out 5-6 spots over the next couple weeks to “practice what I preach”, and do some interview calls.

These are NOT disguised sales pitches…  I just want to ask you a few questions about your business, who you serve, what your goals and dreams are, what your biggest problems or frustrations are, etc.

Actually… If you are thinking about doing your own interview calls, this will be a valuable experience for you because you get to hear exactly how I conduct these calls and what kind of questions I ask!

Also, as my way of saying THANKS for helping me gain a deeper understanding of the wants and needs of those I serve, at the end of the call I’ll give you some time to ask me a question or two about your business! (I typically charge $2,500 per hour for phone consultations…)

Now I do have a few criteria for those I get on the phone with, and there are several industries/markets where I refuse to work with people.

So if you want to apply for a spot, and see if you qualify, all you need to do is fill out the form on this page:

http://ericgraham.org/interview

You don’t have to fill out all of the questions if you don’t want or are not comfortable, but because I only have a handful of spots blocked out to do these calls, the more complete your answers, the greater the chance I’ll pick you for a call.

And even though this is the page/form I usually use for my more formal “Strategy Sessions” with prospective clients, where if there is a mutual fit, I actually DO make them an offer to work with me… Like I said, on this short interview call, nothing is “for sale”, you can’t buy anything from me on this call even if you want to!

http://ericgraham.org/interview

Why Your Business Needs a Board of Advisors (and How to Build One!)

12003258_10153632956873684_3956527891793201498_nIn today’s rapidly changing and highly competitive markets, many privately held companies are creating outside advisory boards to give owners and CEOs fresh, knowledgeable advice. 

Even for small businesses, setting up an advisory board can give you a significant advantage over competitors that are relying solely on internal talent. An experienced and well-connected board of advisors can help your business grow and prosper in ways you’ve never imagined.

What is a Board of Advisors?
An advisory board is an outside group that is informally organized to provide business owners and corporate leaders with support, advice and assistance.  While formal boards of directors have legally defined responsibilities and fiduciary duties, advisory boards have no formal power or binding legal authority.  They serve at the pleasure of the business owner or CEO.

Benefits of an Advisory Board
There are several advantages that companies with advisory boards have over their competition. A board offers your business:

  • An unbiased outside perspective.
  • Increased corporate accountability and discipline.
  • Enhanced CEO and management effectiveness.
  • Greater credibility with investors, vendors and customers.
  • Help in avoiding costly mistakes.
  • Rounding out skills and expertise lacking in current management team.
  • A sounding board for evaluating new business ideas and opportunities.
  • Enhanced community and public relations.
  • Improved marketing results and effectiveness.
  • Strategic planning assistance and input.
  • Centers of influence for networking introductions.
  • Crisis and transition leadership in the event of the death or resignation of the CEO.
  • Help anticipating market changes and trends.

Steps to Creating an Effective Board of Advisors

  • Analyze the strength and weaknesses of your current management team.  Look for critical areas of expertise and knowledge that your company could use help with such as marketing, legal, finance, eCommerce, and research and development or information technology.  If your company is planning on going public within the next few years, seek out advisors who have successfully taken companies down that path.
    • Set clear, written goals and objectives for your board of advisors.  Getting maximum value from a board of advisors begins with clear objectives and goals.  Board members must know why they have been asked to serve and what is expected of them.Before establishing the board, the CEO and senior managers should sit down and ask some of the following questions:

1.      What are the main areas we need advice and guidance in?
2.      What specifically do we need the board members to do for us?
3.      Who are a few potential candidates for board membership?
4.      How do we avoid giving away too much control to outsiders?
5.      What will be the powers and limitations of the board?
6.      What will setting up the board cost initially?  Annually?  Will it be worth the cost?

  • Determine the size and structure of your board.  Advisory boards range in size from two members to over thirty.  The right size depends on many factors, such as your company’s size, complexity, stage of development and individual skills needed. My experience and research has found that for most small to mid-sized, growing companies or start-ups, a 5 to 7 member advisory board is an ideal size.  Smaller firms can start with just one or two members and add new members as they grow.

 

Recruiting Candidates
Determining whom you invite to join your board is one of the most critical decisions in setting up a board of advisors.  Often a business owner’s first instinct is to ask friends, family members or professional advisors to sit on their board.  This is usually a mistake.  Unless your friend or family member is a recognized authority in an area of expertise lacking by your management team or a highly successful entrepreneur, they are probably not the wisest choice.

Another reason to avoid asking family or friends to join your board is lack of objectivity.  Often advice from a friend, family member or management insider is sugar coated to protect relationships.  An outside advisor can give you a much more objective and honest assessment of the situation.

Using professional advisors such as your lawyer, banker or accountant as board members has it’s own pitfalls.  These advisors are already working for you and may not be as objective as you need, due to having an interest in generating future business from your company.

Some critical action steps for recruiting a dynamite board of advisors are:

  • Develop a candidate profile. After you have determined the areas of expertise your company is in need of, create a profile of candidates that successfully fit these needs.  Take care to address knowledge and skills that your company will need to meet projected growth and future challenges.
  • Seek out experts. Search online and offline for experts and proven leaders that meet your candidate profiles.  Contact them and begin discussions about possible board membership.
  • Ask for recommendations. Solicit recommendations from the experts you speak with that cannot serve on your board, of collogues of theirs that they feel would be a good fit for your needs.  Begin networking with your attorney, accountant and other professional advisors.  Once you have successfully recruited an advisor, he or she can often lead you to another good candidate.
  • Find your candidates motivation. Most of your candidates are not going to be motivated by money alone.  In fact, if money is their primary reason for joining your board, they may not be what you are looking for.  The most effective board members are motivated by the challenge and intellectual stimulation of building successful companies.  They serve because they are already high achievers and enjoy the challenge.
  • Have variety in your board.  Try to include experts and successful entrepreneurs from several different disciplines.  Often board members who are successful marketers, CEOs and business owners from different industries can bring a fresh perspective to your business.  These individuals can often help you incorporate best practices from other industries, into your own industry, creating revolutionary changes and opportunities.
  • Look for a proven track record. Find the leaders in their field.  The best board candidates are successful CEOs, business owners, professionals, university professors and consultants who have achieved success in their own businesses and careers.
  • Clearly communicate your goals and objectives. Invest time in talking to and meeting with potential members.  Communicate to them what your goals and objectives are.  Let them know that you are not looking for “yes men” and that you want advisors who will challenge you and hold you accountable for your businesses growth.

Board Compensation
Board members expect and deserve to be compensated for their time, efforts and advice.

Typical advisory board compensation includes a stipend from $5,000 to $25,000 per member, per year.  Some companies pay their board members per meeting, with payment ranging from $500 to $3,000 per meeting, with a monthly retainer of $500 to $2,500.  Companies should also cover transportation, meals and lodging for members when attending meetings.

Most successful boards also give or require members to buy stock or some form of equity in the company.  This gives the board members equity participation and a vested interest in the growth of the company.

Pitfalls to Avoid
Some potential problem areas to avoid when setting up or working with your advisory board are:

  • Members missing meetings. Because board members are usually running successful businesses of their own, they may not always be available for every meeting.  However, board members should be made aware that attendance of board meetings is important and expected.  If a member is chronically absent, the value of their membership on the board should be reviewed.
  • Insecurity of senior managers. Some company insiders may feel intimidated or threatened by the involvement of outsiders.  The CEO or owner must make every effort to communicate to his staff the benefits and importance of having a board of advisors.
  • Incompatible personalities. This is a challenging situation, because most members of your board will be strong willed, achiever types, who have gotten where they are by taking charge.  Many will have strong convictions about their opinions and may find it hard to defer the leadership of the meetings to the CEO.  You must determine when a member’s personality is “too strong” and becoming disruptive.
  • Excessive number of board members. Because of their strong personalities, if you have too many members on your board, the more assertive members often dominate the debates, depriving you of the contributions the quieter members may have made.
  • Lack of CEO communication. Withholding company information or not regularly communicating with the members of your board of advisors destroys trust and effectiveness.  Regular communication between meetings is essential to maintaining an effective board.
  • Inadequate compensation. As I mentioned, you do not want compensation to be the determining factor in a candidates membership on your advisory board, however successful individuals of the caliber you seek expect to be fairly compensated for their time and knowledge.

Keys to Board Effectiveness

  • If you build it, use it. Owners and CEOs who invest the time and money in creating a board should be committed to soliciting and using its advice on important issues and decisions.
  • Value their input, even when they disagree with what you want to do.Sometimes a board is at it’s most valuable when it recommends against a course of action the CEO wants to take.  If you recruit a good board, often they have already been down the path you are on, and their experience (and past failures) can help you to avoid costly mistakes.
  • Communicate with your advisors. Keep the members of your board informed about what is happening in your company and industry.  Counsel with individual members on the phone at least monthly and send them information well in advance of your meetings, to help them prepare and keep the meetings productive.
  • Hold regular meetings. Most boards meet once per quarter.  However, boards should meet more often during times of rapid growth or if company needs merit additional oversight and guidance.
  • Have an objective for each meeting. Your board members are busy people and their time is valuable.  Make the most out of your meetings with them, by having a clear agenda and objectives for each meeting.  Make sure to cover the most important items of business first, in case the discussions take longer than planned or some members have to leave early.
  • Annual assessment of board performance.
    Periodically assessing the board’s effectiveness is a critical factor in ensuring a good return on investment.  Each year the board should set performance goals and define their criteria for success.  At the end of the year the CEO and the board should assess it’s performance, compared to its goals and criteria for success.

Over 80 percent of all private companies are operating without a board of advisors or board of directors.  Odds are your competitors do not have one.  Because of this, developing a board of advisors can give your company a distinct advantage over your competition.  This is particularly true for start-ups and family run businesses. 

There is tremendous value in receiving objective, knowledgeable advice from a board of advisors who share in the financial and equity growth of your business.  I encourage you to begin recruiting your advisory board today!

Do What You Love, Love Who You Do It For!

Do what you love, love who you do it forLet me ask you a question…

Why are you in business?

Is it just to make money?

Is it to extract every dime you can, out of everyone you meet?

If so… Do the world a favor… Close up shop, and go back to working a day job!

Because, you don’t get it. And you’ll never make any REAL money, or build LASTING wealth with that mindset.

Times have changed, and the world is different… The old school, “hard sell”, manipulative tactics of the past don’t work any more (thankfully!)

Those who are in business to simply make as much money as they can, any way that they can, won’t last.

So why are YOU in business?

Hopefully its for one reason…

LOVE!

Stay with me here… Don’t worry, I’m not saying this for any tree-huggery, hippie, “money is a bad thing” reasons.

(I’m as red-blooded, hard core capitalist as anyone you’ll ever meet!)

However, making REAL money, and building LASTNG wealth needs to come from a place of LOVE.

You have to love WHAT YOU DO and (even more important) you must love WHO YOU DO IT FOR!

I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.

If you’re not head over heels in love with the people you serve, then you either need to get to know them better, or you need to get new clients!

You must find a group of people to serve that you CAN love and respect.

Because when you approach your prospects and clients from a position of genuine love and respect, they will sense your authenticity, and they will know and trust that you have THEIR best interests at heart.

Then and only then, will they trust you with their money.

They will trust you with their money, not because you used any sneaky “trust building tactics or tricks”, but they will trust you because you are truly, genuinely TRUSTWORTHY!

Now, just because you “love” your clients and those you serve, and they trust you, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t (or don’t need to) actually SELL them on buying your products or working with you.

In fact… It’s quite the opposite!

I read a quote today by worldclass sales trainer Gulliver Giles:

He says: “IF YOU DON’T HANDLE OBJECTIONS… You’re basically selling your client on why you don’t care.”

And there is so much truth in this…

For me selling is all about delivering VALUE from a place of truly caring about your prospect/client. It’s about wanting the absolute best for them, their business and their family.

So when you know what you have to offer WILL improve their lives and create massive value for them…

If you REALLY love them and care about them and their wellbeing, you won’t accept their objections! Or more accurately you won’t let THEM accept their OWN objections (excuses)!

When they throw up an objection, in many (if not most) cases it is not based on their lack of confidence in YOU, it’s based on their lack of confidence or belief in THEMSELVES…

They are operating (and holding back) out of FEAR…

If you have real love and concern for those you serve, you owe it to them to do whatever it takes to help them begin exercising the FAITH it takes to overcome their fear.

(And I’m not talking about just faith in you or your offer… I’m talking about faith in themselves.)

And the best way for them to exercise that faith is by taking action and moving forward!

So, when you fail to handle your prospects objections, you are basically telling them that not only do you not actually care about helping them… You also agree that their fears and lack of belief in themselves is justified.

If you don’t love your clients enough to fight for their success (often harder than they do at first), then you need to find a new group of people to serve that you CAN fall in love with strong enough to fight for them!

And this applies double if you are a “coach”!

My good friend Brian G. Johnson recently asked the following question on Facebook:

“What would your ideal coaching program include?”

And he got a ton of great answers.

However… Most of the answers he received related to the structure of a good coaching program.

How many calls clients would receive each month…

The format of the training (audio vs. video vs. text)…

What type of content he should cover (goal-setting, marketing, etc.)…

However, my answer to him was a bit different.

I said…

“… The STRUCTURE of the program is secondary.

The real key is the RESULTS you deliver to your clients/students. So for most people the key component of “ideal coaching program” is a coach who absolutely LOVES the people he/she serves, and is just as committed to their success as they are (if not more!)

It’s having a coach who will push you and hold you accountable for taking ACTION on what is being taught. (Not just “do the work” for the client.)

The only reason I personally don’t “do all of the work” for my own coaching clients, is I want them to be able to duplicate and replicate the results we achieve together long after we’re done working with each other.

But again, the key here (at least for me) boils down to LOVE. It’s hand picking those you are willing to work with, not because of how much money they will pay you, but because you love who they ARE, you believe in their message, and you love the VALUE they create in the world for the people THEY serve.

As a coach, you have the unique privilege and honor of being what I like to call a “Value Multiplier”… By adding value to the lives of your clients, you in turn increase their ability to add value to the people they serve. The end result is a perpetuating cycle of value creation that benefits everyone.”

So… How do you view your prospects and clients?

Do you view your clients as “sheep to be sheered” or worse “pigs to be slaughtered”?

Or do you view them as valuable individuals to be cherished, served and protected?

Do you see your prospects as stupid, gullible “marks” to be manipulated, tricked and taken advantage of?

Or do you see them as intelligent, precious, wonderful human beings to be respected, guided and persuaded into taking action on something that will add massive value to their lives?

Do you sell to them simply because you want their money?

Or do you sell to them because you know what you have to offer will transform their lives?

Your answers to these questions will make all the difference in your success (and happiness!)

7 Surprising Lessons About Business (and Life) You Can Learn From a Champion Sled Dog Team…

In 2012 Dallas Seavey, at the age of 25 became the youngest person in history to win the grueling 1,049+ Mile Iditarod sled-dog race from Anchorage to Nome Alaska.

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Dallas Seavey: 2 Time Iditarod Champion

Early last Tuesday Morning, my family stayed up all night on the edge of our seats to follow his progress as he did it again in an EPIC come from behind upset! Becoming the 2014 Iditarod champ and SMASHING the previous record with a time of 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, 19 seconds!

(His dad Mitch Seavey won last year at the age of 53 becoming the OLDEST person to ever win the race!)

For those not familiar with the Iditarod, it’s known as “The Last Great Race on Earth” and is widely recognized as the most grueling and difficult, long distance endurance race of any kind. Competitors like Dallas are typically subjected to 9-15 days of sleep deprivation, whiteout blizzards, brutal cold and gale force winds (with wind-chills as low as -100F!)

Dallas Seavey, Marty Raney, Matt Raney, Erica Graham

Dallas Seavey, Marty Raney, Matt Raney, Erica Graham

I first met Dallas last Summer when my daughter and I attended the Alaska State Fair as guests of family friend Marty Raney, one of the stars of National Geographic Channels hit TV show “Ultimate Survival Alaska“.

Dallas and Marty have participated in both seasons of the hit TV show, surviving and competing in over 23 expeditions all over the State of Alaska.

While hanging out with Marty and the cast in the Nat Geo booth at the fair, I got to spend a fair amount of time talking with Dallas about his life and adventures.

In listening to him describe the methodical, scientific, yet full-throttle approach he takes to training for and winning sled-dog races, I recognized a kindred-spirit.

This guy was a true Champion! He possessed the exact same traits, habits and mindsets I’d observed in countless other top performers, champions, entrepreneurs, and self-made millionaires I work and associate with on a daily basis.

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Because I’m a voracious reader, and continually study the biographies of world-class leaders and peak-performers in a wide variety of disciplines, I was glad to see he had written a book about his journey to win his first Iditarod. (Born To Mush)

He signed a copy for my daughter, and for the next couple weeks, we read Dallas’s book together as her bed-time story.

dallas-book-sign

But I was so impressed by the wisdom he shared, and the glimpses the book gave into the mindset of a true champion, I re-read the book myself, carefully highlighting key passages and taking notes.

(I highly recommend the book to ANYONE who wants to study the inner workings of a world-class, winning mindset! At only 160 pages it’s a quick, but powerful read.)

In speaking with and spending time with Dallas, as well as reading his book, following his performances on Ultimate Survival Alaska, and his latest Iditarod win, I’ve identified several key lessons anyone can learn from this amazing young champion!

1. Being a Champion is All About Mindset:
Those who win in life, business or the Iditarod trail have one big thing in common. They THINK different than those who lose or quit.

I’ve found that in nearly every area of achievement the “2% Rule” holds true.

The “2% Rule” states that, “In any competitive endeavor the top 2% achieve more success than the bottom 98% combined.”

The difference is not in physical skill, genetics, talent or ability. The difference between the 2% and the 98% is found in their MINDSET.

  • Champions see opportunities, where the other 98% see risks.
  • Champions train, while the other 98% sleep.
  • Champions read and study, while the other 98% watch TV and play video games.
  • Champions seek out and associate with other champions, while the other 98% hang out with those who whine and complain.
  • Champions PROACTIVELY protect their mindset and attitude, while the other 98% REACTIVELY allow the media and their negative emotions to dictate their attitudes.

Dallas Seavey is no exception. Already a champion wrestler, on track to go to the Olympics, Dallas suffered a carrer ending injury.

He applied the world-class thought processes, habits and competitive spirit that made him such a successful wrestler to winning the Iditarod.

2. Champions Don’t Just Have The Will to WIN, They Have The WILL to Train and Prepare:

Everybody who decides to compete has the “will to win”. If you ask anyone in the 98% if they WANT to have greater success in life, they will tell you “Yes”.

But only Champions have the will to put in the countless, painful, thankless hours of training and preparation that it takes to perform at a world-class level.

For “2%ers” like Dallas, there really isn’t an “off-season”. Even though the Iditarod is only run once per year, Dallas spends the rest of the year training and testing his dogs (and himself) to make sure they are at peak condition for the race.

Often spending more nights outdoors on the trail during training runs than he does in his own bed at home, he trains his team in the most extreem conditions he imagines they could possibly encounter while running the Iditarod.

(And as you’ll see in a moment, this “extreme conditions” training paid off big time for him in his win this year!)

3. Champions Are Willing to WORK Harder Than Anyone Else They Might be Competing Against:

A common motto thrown around in business circles these days is, “Work Smarter, Not Harder!”

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that phase is responsible for a great deal of failures in recent years.

While working “smart” is great, and I (and other champions) are always looking for leverage points that can give us an edge, too many people (about 98% of them…) are too focused on the “not harder” part.

They are looking for short-cuts and magic-pills that will get them off the hook for doing the work.

This is NOT how champions think!

The motto of Champions is: “Work Smarter AND Harder!”

Dallas Seavey lives that motto every day…

Not only does he out-work the competition in training, he out works them on the trail as well.

While most of the other racers wear heavy boots, and are standing on the skis of their sled or even sitting down on their sleds, Dallas works harder…

Dallas wears trail RUNNING SHOES and rather than letting his dogs do all the work, pulling him up the hills, he jumps off the sled and RUNS up the hills (and mountains) to help his dogs conserve energy!

Even on stretches of trail too icy for him to run and get traction on he is using a ski-pole to continuously, mile after mile, push his sled forward and take part of the load off of his team.

It was an amazing sight at 4am, watching Dallas after nearly 9 days on the trail, coming down the street in Nome, running in front of his sled, PULLING with his dogs down the final stretch to the finish…

THAT is a champions work-ethic!

4. Champions Study and Plan Their Route:

Most people in life “make it up as they go”. They flow from one day to the next, one year to the next, just taking what life (or the trail) gives them.

One of the key mindset differences between the 2% and the 98% is the difference between living proactively or reactively.

The 98% live reactively… Simply reacting and responding to whatever life gives them as it happens. (This tends to create a “victim” mentality…)

Champions and those in the 2% chose to live PROACTIVELY. We believe that we have the power to script and create much of our future the way we want it to go.

But in order to live proactively, you must be willing to put in the work to study and plan the path you wish to travel.

Dallas does this like a MASTER when it comes to running the Iditarod. He has run and became familiar with every single mile of the 1,049 mile trail. He makes sure his lead dogs are familiar with the trail.

(And that came in handy this year because the white-out conditions and wind were so bad he couldn’t see, and had to trust his lead dogs to stay on the trail and get him safely to Nome!)

But he doesn’t just stop with knowing the route. He also studies past races, times between checkpoints, rest times, other racers habits and patterns, other racers dogs, weather conditions, wind speeds, snow depths, and dozens of other data-ponts.

He uses all of this data to plan and plot every leg of his race with exacting precision.

Planning down to the minute, how long he needs to take between each of the checkpoints, how long he will rest his dogs at each stop, which dogs he will have in which positions… EVERYTHING. Dallas plans EVERYTHING.

But more important, he has the discipline to stick with his plan regardless of what other racers are doing! (Even if that means having the patience to be back as far as 20th place for much of the race…)

5. Champions Know That Success is a Marathon, Not a Sprint… And They Conserve and Maintain Their (and their teams) Energy For When It’s Needed Most!

This is one of the most brilliant and masterful parts of the “Dallas Seavey” strategy to winning long races.

Rather than trying to go out “like a rabbit” and run in front for the entire race, he has the patience to stick with his planned run-rest timetable, and conserve his teams energy for the last big push.

Dallas calls this “building the monster”…

Because of this, on the last legs of the race, when the other teams dogs are spent and tired, Dallas’s team has a massive amount of “gas left in the tank” to kick things into high gear, and pass everyone for the win.

He even goes so far as to rotate his key dogs between running and RIDING in his sled!

The key lesson to learn here is, particularly when you are just getting started with a new project or business idea, to NOT burn yourself (or your team) out too soon.

So many people start projects, but lose steam and never finish them. This is why…

6. Champions Recognize They Can’t Win By Themselves – They Focus on Building a Team and Developing Leaders:

While being a champion and a leader can at times be a lonely endeavor, it’s nearly impossible to succeed alone.

All champions and winners have coaches and team members.

Dallas knows this all too well. Mentored from an early age by his father, a 2-time Iditarod winner himself, Dallas takes a long-term team-building approach to his racing.

This years team of dogs is a perfect example…

The average age of the dogs on this years winning team is 2-3 years old. And each year Dallas rotates older dogs out, and new dogs into the lineup.

He is building a team that can not only win this year, but can dominate for years to come!

And Dallas seems to have a knack for picking and building “leaders” among his dogs. By investing the proper time months before the race in selecting and grooming his top-dogs for leadership roles out on the trail, Dallas ensures when his dogs run into conditions like they did this year, his lead dogs are prepared and unfazed.

If you are in business for yourself, I strongly encourage you to take this long-term, leader-building focus with your own team.

Don’t just hire someone who can do the job right now… Hire (and train) people so they can do the job when your company is 2-3 times as big as it is now.

7. Champions Know… It’s Not Over — Until Its Over!

During season 2 of Ultimate Survival Alaska, Dallas’s “Endurance Team” was in last place with only 1 win vs. the other 2 remaining teams having 3 wins each.

With only 3 legs of the expedition to go, Dallas realized that his team would have to win ALL of the remaining races or they would be out of the running in the competition.

Amazingly enough, that’s EXACTLY what they did. Going back to basics, Dallas set a run/rest schedule for his team for each leg of their adventure, and they methodically and scientifically came back from a seemingly impossible deficit to win ALL of the remaining race legs to be crowned with the title of “Ultimate Alaskan Survivors”.

Dallas’s refusal to quit and champion spirt showed itself again during the Iditarod.

During the first 7 days of the race, Dallas bounced between as far back 20th place up to 7th place.

At no point before the last leg was Dallas in the lead.

But true to his methodical, scientific strategy of conserving energy in his lead dogs, and “building the monster” during the last 24 hours of the race, Dallas blasted his way to the front and found himself in the top 3 with only 22 miles to go.

Amazingly enough, conditions on the trail were so rough and brutal, the lead was blown off the trail and the #2 racer decided to stop to wait out the storm.

Dallas’s preparation paid off, as he passed both of them to take the lead and win.

The key lesson to take away from his example is that it’s only “over” if you quit! Keep fighting and pushing until the very end, no matter how far behind you think you are!

That’s what champions do!

Bonus Lesson on Luck:  Many say Dallas got lucky this year because while he was in 3rd place the weather became so bad the leader was blow off the trail and had to scratch, and the person in 2nd place stopped to wait out the wind (until Dallas passed her and she took up the chase.)

And those people are right, there was an element of “luck” in his win this year. (And Dallas himself didn’t even know he won until a few minutes after he crossed the finish line! He though he was still in 3rd!)

However, I am a firm believer in the concept of “creating your own luck”, and in what a wise philosopher said over 2,000 years ago…

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca

And Dallas (and the team he trained) was certainly prepared to take advantage of the opportunity when it presented itself.

Because of the training and conditions he had exposed his team to over the years, he was confident enough to press on, into the near hurricane strength winds along the Bering Sea coast that stopped the other front runners cold.

So the lesson to learn here is that you can create your own luck by preparing in advance to be ready to strike when the opportunity arrives.

What will look like “luck” to the 98% of people who “live lives of quiet desperation”, will be recognized by your fellow 2%ers and other champions as a demonstration of your will, dedication, and commitment to prepare.

Bottom-line…

There is value in studying, hanging out with, and modeling the thought processes and behaviors of world-class, champion performers in ANY field of endeavor.

Because what it takes to win in business, in sports, in life, and yes… even in dog mushing … is the exact same core set of skills, beliefs, disciplines and mindsets.

I challenge you, right now, to commit to following the example of champions like Dallas Seavey and cultivate a winning mindset, train and prepare to win, out-work your competition, charge head-first into the storms of life, and NEVER quit until you’ve won!

———————–

UPDATE: After winning the Iditarod for a THIRD TIME in 2015, Dallas and his wife invited my daughter and I to visit their home and kennel in Willow, AK to talk with them about strategies for growing their Sled Dog Tour business, an opportunities outside of mushing.

Here is a short video I recorded (actually my daughter was holding the phone) after spending the better part of the day together talking about all kinds of topics!

Dallas shares some great wisdom about what it takes to be a champion!

Success In Business (and life) Is NOT a Linear Upward Climb…

dip-leapHere is the dirty little secret about achieving success that the “guru’s” and motivational speakers/authors won’t tell you…

And actually, I’m often afraid of sharing it with people myself, because I don’t want them to use it as an excuse not to attempt to do something great.

But, I just got off a coaching call with a client who was feeling discouraged and frustrated by some of the challenges that she was being hit with.

What I explained was something very powerful, and something only those who have had multiple successes, in multiple areas, over a sustained period of time really ever begin to understand.

While I’m a big proponent and believer in the concept and practice of “Continual and Never Ending Improvement”, in reality, success is NOT an ongoing, straight-line upward progression.

What I’ve found in my own life, and in the lives of my highly successful friends and coaching clients, is that success or upward progress often comes to us in big leaps, followed by plateaus.

You struggle and work, and struggle and work to improve an area of your life or business and at times it may seem like you are not making any progress or forward momentum, and then in a short period of time you take a big leap and jump up to the next level!

This holds true in so many areas of life…

From growing your business, to practicing a skill or talent, to improving your health and even in strengthening your relationships.

Even though you feel like you are “doing everything right”, you don’t see immediate and measurable progress or results.

This causes most people to quit and say, “This stuff doesn’t work!”

They justify their giving up by telling themselves, “I did everything the course/book/coach/mentor told me to do, and I didn’t get the promised result!”

What they don’t understand is, what they were doing WAS working, and had they just kept going just a bit longer the results would have begun pouring in.

It’s a bit like using one of those old-fashion, manual water pumps.

You have to pump, and pump, and pump and pump and nothing comes out. So most people think, “the well is dry. There is no water down there.” So they stop pumping.

But what they don’t see, is that the entire time they were pumping, water was slowly rising up the pipe, getting closer and closer to pouring out of the spigot.

The problem is, as soon as they stop pumping, the water level drops all the way back down the pipe to the bottom!

So if they want the water, they will have to start pumping all over again from the beginning.

The trick to making those old hand-pumps work is to KEEP PUMPING!

Because as soon as the water starts flowing, it becomes so much easier to keep it flowing.

You no longer have to keep frantically pumping…

You can ease off and give it a gentle pump here and there and the water keeps pouring out. But if you pause long enough for the water to stop flowing and fall back down the pipe, you have to start all over!

(This is why building and maintaining MOMENTUM is so critical to your success!)

People are so used to instant gratification these days, they simply give up and quit when they don’t see immediate results.

That is why persistence is such a common trait among the world-class and highly successful.

[Tweet “Successful people win because we are so stubborn we simply refuse to quit or give up!”]

Part of this has to do with the law of sowing and reaping…

It’s like being a farmer. You work for months and months, preparing the ground, planting the seeds, pulling the weeds and watering, all without anything to actually show for your efforts.

But unseen, underground the roots are growing and taking hold to support the rapid growth that occurs right before you get to harvest.

That is how success in life actually occurs.

You don’t plant the seeds, and then immediately get to begin picking a little fruit everyday.

You plant the seeds today, and the harvest comes all at once, often months (or even years) later.

Here is the other part about success that few people will tell you…

Often (not every time, but often enough) right before you take your big leap upwards, you will get blindsided by an unexpected setback or reversal in progress.

It is almost as if success likes to test you to make sure you actually want it bad enough before letting you jump to the next level.

Like I said, this doesn’t happen every time, and I’m reluctant to even mention it, because I don’t want you to use the fear or expectation of this trial as a reason to not attempt something great.

But I want to make you aware of the potential for this happening, so if and when it does hit you, you recognize it for what it actually is, and use it as a positive sign that you are getting close to your next big leap upward.

This awareness is important, because so often this reversal or setback comes right after an intense burst of effort, work and attempt at personal or business growth.

It can take you by surprise and derail your progress, by making you question the path you are on and effectiveness of the efforts you are making.

You may think or say to yourself, “Here I am, doing everything I can think of… Working harder than ever… Making every possible effort to grow and achieve more… Doing everything right… And none of it seems to be working! I’m actually losing ground and going backwards!”

It can feel like you’ve been punched in the gut! (I know… I’ve been there many times!)

But the good news is, once you recognize what is going on, and understand that this is simply your “final exam” before the floodgates open and you make the leap to the next level, it becomes much easier to push through the challenge and pass the test.

So if you’ve been struggling and working hard to move to the next level in your business (or any other area of your life) and not seeing the results you think you deserve, or worse, seem to be losing ground… don’t lose faith.

Keep pushing forward, because the success you are seeking (and your next “big leap”) may be far closer than you think!

The 3 Things That Hold Entrepreneurs Back From Achieving Total Success

eric-3-fbRecently, as part of a multi-speaker charity contest I’m participating in (called the Authentic Business Success Summit) I did an in depth interview in which I shared a TON of powerful business growth and success secrets and strategies.

One of the (many) great questions I was asked was…

“What 3 things hold an entrepreneur back from achieving total success?”

Here was my answer…

If you want to see the FULL nearly 80 minute video, and also get access to the full interviews of 14 other top business experts and entrepreneurs (such as Joel Comm, Ken McArthur, John Lee Dumas), I highly recommend you join the Authentic Business Success Summit!

You’ll get our best mindset and business building strategies to help make 2014 YOUR breakout year in business!

(…PLUS watch as we raise thousands of dollars for charity!)

AND…

Because I’m competing against the other speakers to raise the most money for charity, I’m going to do something that I almost NEVER do…

When you’re one of the next 5 people who click the link below and join me (and the 14 other top entrepreneurs and business experts) as part of The Authentic Business Summit, I’m going to give you a full hour coaching/consulting call absolutely FREE!

http://EricGraham.org/abss-free-coaching

Because all of my coaching programs are currently full, the only other way to get 1-on-1 time with me on the phone is to pay my $2,500.00 per hour consulting rate!

But as my way of saying “thank you” for helping us raise money for these wonderful charities, I’m willing to give you a full hour of my time, to ask me ANY questions you want about growing your business, turning browsers into buyers, strengthening your sales copy, managing your time like a millionaire, gaining clarity and focus on the direction you want to go, and anything else you need help with!

I won’t hold anything back… I’ll deliver the same value and results to you during your free coaching session that I do for my clients who pay me thousands to pick my brain!

Simply visit the link below, checkout the amazing line up of speakers and sign up for the summit…

http://EricGraham.org/abss-free-coaching

I can’t wait to touch bases with you on our 60-minute call together and help you make 2014 your best year ever!

UPDATE: There are only 4 3 spots left… (Lock in YOURS now!)

http://EricGraham.org/abss-free-coaching