Entrepreneur? Or Just Another Business Person?

(Published in The Unity Community newsletter in January 2019)


Norm Brodsky
, who writes a regular column in Inc. magazine, has a very interesting story for us for this issue

He and his wife stopped by a store where Linda Pagan manufactures and sells ladies’ hats. 

Linda makes some very broad-brimmed hats that many people like for outdoor events. Since she includes boxes with all her hats, she needs larger than normal boxes for these hats. 

She took the “bull by the horns” and helped her box supplier develop the capacity  to produce these outsized boxes. The supplier hadn’t identified the market for such hat boxes. She did, and stepped up to make it happen, with benefit to herself and other marketers, the box supplier, and the customers.

This is the way business should be done – win-win-win! It’s how a market economy generates wealth. 

Through cooperative effort, everybody benefits. Linda, the box supplier and other milliners earn a profit by selling their wares for more than it costs to make them. The customers get the hats worth more to them than the money they pay for them.

So here’s the difference between an entrepreneur and another business person. Many people start a “business” which is really just a job for them. They don’t answer to a boss per se (except their customer), but they’re selling what others sell, with few if any unique features.

Those who identify and fill a gap, or space for a product or service that nobody is offering, are entrepreneurs. Others compete with existing suppliers without offering anything new. They must compete on price, delivery time, or other mundane features of their product or service. They have much more competition than the entrepreneur does.

Enjoy Norm’s story about entrepreneur Linda Pagan. This insight may be useful to better understand and explain the difference between entrepreneurs and other business people.

What Makes Experience a Better Teacher?

We’ve talked a lot about mindset in the last several issues of this letter. I’m sure some among you think all this mindset talk is “woo-woo” pointless chatter. 

“Just get on with the program!” you may say. I assure you, there’s abundant science supporting the idea that mindset affects performance. It also affects life satisfaction and happiness.

Effective “getting on with the program” requires a positive mindset. Are you working with an abundance, rather than scarcity, mindset? Focusing on solutions, rather than problems? If so, you’re in the most effective mindset. If you’re focusing on scarcity and problems, you’re not as effective as you may think! For sure, not as effective as you could be.

A few mindset-related concepts this week:

  • Reflection makes the most of experience.
  • Worry does nothing to fix what you’re worrying about. We have a quick recipe for dispelling worry.
  • Happy positive people are happy whether they’re materially wealthy or not.

Here’s Karyn Danielle on the topic of reflection. She begins by citing this quote:

We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on our experience.” – John Dewey

Careful reflection can bring to light: 

  • What went well. 
  • What we can improve upon. 
  • Where life worked against us despite our best effort. 
    • Celebrate that effort, even if the outcome was less desirable than you hoped for. You gave it your best shot!

Karyn expands on that idea – all part of the concept of a positive mindset. 

Worry detracts from performance. Worry is nothing more or less than negative expectations. It’s a negative mindset. If you find yourself worrying about something:

  • Explore what you can do about it. Then do it – take positive steps.
  • If there’s nothing you can do about it, decide to accept the outcome, whatever it is.
    • Be on the lookout for anything you can do to mitigate its effect on you. Do that thing.
    • Then stop worrying.
    • Get on with the things you can do in the rest of your life.

The scare about the coronavirus is a perfect situation for practicing this.

There are many negative people who make lots of money or show other signs of success. Usually their “success” is short-lived, and they lead unhappy lives. 

Annette Bau has studied happy people enjoying life and those who fight it. Each category includes some who have money. And others who struggle financially. In 30 years of study, she’s found it’s all about mindset! Money, or other trappings of “success”, don’t make unhappy people happy. They just result in unhappy people with lots of stuff!

Focus on things you can control – especially your mind!

Need some Inspiration? Who Can You Count on?

Rounding out the month of March 2020, which turned into a “Mindset Month”, Mary Lynn Ziemer has this for us.

It’s a great reminder of the value of celebrating your wins, however small they seem. A genuine compliment from a friend may be more uplifting than closing a big sale! Reminding yourself of that compliment, and other “wins” in your life, makes you your biggest fan. And your greatest friend. Good company to have!

March began with business in full swing and the coronavirus mostly concentrated in China and Italy. Life in the Americas seemed pretty “normal”. Then the virus spread worldwide and governments took action. (Whatever your opinion of their actions, it happened, and we all live with the effect). Seemingly all hell broke loose. 

Heading into April it looks like more of the same for at least a few more weeks.

While all this is going on, the press is, as always, fanning the flames. It’s important for each of us to stay focused. There are things in our lives we can still control, most importantly our mindset. To keep our mindset positive, we sometimes need a source of inspiration.

Who better to count on than our own selves for that inspiration?

Mary Lynn offers wonderful advice for how to provide that self-inspiration. Her main suggestion? When you’re faced with a situation you’d prefer to be different, first, STOP! Give yourself a little break. Recognize what, if any, role you have in the situation. If you can correct your role to improve the outcome, do it. If you truly have no role, think carefully about what you can do to turn the effect positive for you. When you’re dealt lemons, make lemonade. Consider how to avoid negative effects as much as possible. 

In poker, any hand can win! Play the hand you’re dealt. Every hand has something that can make it a winner, if you play it right.

Among other things, stay informed. Follow the most factual, least emotional, sources you can find. When you have the information you need, turn off the news. The hoopla can only make you negative and crazy.

While you’re thinking about the next useful steps for you to take, do it with a positive mindset. You’ll think much more clearly with that positivity. To make your mindset positive – to be the best version of yourself – remember and celebrate your wins. Be your own cheerleader!Make a list of people and things you’re grateful for. Refer to it often. Update it often.

You have greatness inside of you – remind yourself of that and bring it out!

What’s Important Enough for You to Become an Activist?

(This is an article I wrote for my newsletter nearly 3 years ago. Since it’s come up in several conversations, I’m posting it here, which I hadn’t done before.)

My daughter called Saturday. We talked for an hour and a half We don’t talk very often. Our conversations, when we finally get our schedules together, can run to 2, 3, or 4 hours. Since we both have inquiring minds, the more we discuss things the more new questions arise.

About an hour into the conversation, after catching up on our various activities, things started getting philosophical, and soon Tara asked me:


What do you Care Enough About to be an Activist?

My answer? Building and nurturing relationships in my life and helping everyone around me understand the value of relationships in their lives. 

A good way of examining what’s most important to a person is to consider what they say during their final hours or days before death (in cases where they know it’s imminent) that they’re happiest or saddest about in their lives. In most cases they either celebrate great relationships or lament poor ones or the lack of satisfying ones. Only the vainest tout the amount of money or possessions they’ve accumulated, or even their achievements.

Landmark Education is a worldwide company who conducts programs to help people see and understand the “blocks” they put in their own life’s way, and then to remove or work around those blocks so they can live authentic, well-balanced, psychologically healthy lives.  Over the past several years I’ve done some work with this wonderful organization, both as a participant in their programs and as a volunteer to help others benefit from this great work at a reasonable cost.

At Landmark, the entry point to their huge menu of offerings is the Landmark Forum. A hundred people, more or less, assemble in an auditorium with only the vaguest idea of what they are about to participate in for the next 3-1/2 very long days. Early on, the Forum leader asks people what they think defines their lives. During the ensuing discussion, he or she writes a couple of large slate boards full of people’s answers. Sometimes a participant will finally hit on “relationships”, and sometimes nobody gets it until the leader finally suggests it.

The rest of the entire work of Landmark’s many programs is dedicated to helping people find ways to build, repair, and maintain healthy relationships with those who are important in their lives. The transformations that occur for people as a result of this work are truly stunning. Landmark makes no claims for specific changes that will occur in anyone’s life as a result of this work. Nonetheless, I’m fairly sure I’ve seen several suicides prevented, and certainly many completely different (from when they arrived) people at the end of the Forum and/or follow-on programs. 

In my own case, I’m not aware of changes that dramatic (Quite likely they’re there and I’m not consciously aware of their full significance). I can say that many relationships in my life have improved significantly, particularly notably and importantly those with my children and my ex-wife. I also have many important friends among the people I met at Landmark

Truly exciting…and indicative of the importance of relationships to the human condition!

Need Some Inspiration in This Time of Challenge?

The world is in turmoil. The news media is full of over-blown hype about it. Perhaps you need some inspiration.

A few suggestions:

  • Turn off the TV
  • Put down the newspaper
  • Read, or re-read, my recent posts on The Unity Community. The open rates for these messages currently stand at 18-21%. This tells me there are many of you who have yet to benefit from them. I refer to:
  • Listen to Eric Lofholm’s live (7:45 AM PT every business day) or recorded 15-minute motivational calls. The recordings and the instructions to join the live call are here. Eric is always upbeat and shares valuable business and sales tips, as well as pure inspiration.
  • (For those with children under 20: Eric has just announced he is doing a special daily training for kids. Most schools don’t teach kids mindset, goal setting, effective communication, etc. Eric is filling that space at a time when kids need it most. I just watched today’s episode and recommend it.)

Mindset is vital. It always works best to approach any situation, however dire it appears, with a positive attitude. There’s a positive side to every situation. Focusing on the negatives will only depress you.  It will do absolutely nothing to improve the situation, or your own performance.

You must be positive to perform at your best. 

You can be positive only by eliminating the negative. 

It’s impossible for the brain to recognize positive and negative simultaneously. Focus on the positive.

Fear and faith cannot co-exist (Napoleon Hill). Have faith that you will do what is necessary. Then do it!

Be aware of facts. Intentionally avoid the hype.

When you can do something to help, do it. When the situation is out of your control, worry won’t help. Move on to whatever good you find. Can’t find it? Look harder – it’s there.

In this time, we can appreciate these observations:

  • Some down time is a good thing.
  • Quiet time with family is good.
  • More relaxed interaction with friends is beneficial.
  • More time to think about and plan for our business and life will have long-term benefit.
  • It’s pretty easy to reduce expenses when we’re not moving around much, restaurants are closed, etc.
  • We may learn more effective or efficient ways of working while our mobility is limited. Example: We have essentially 0 commute time and expense.
  • Think of other benefits!

Stay positive! Better times are coming.

What Will Help You Most to Navigate Hard Times?

This month seems to be developing into a time of philosophical exploration. Last week we discussed Wayne Dyer’s wise life improvement suggestions. This week, I go  back a little further in history (about 700 years!) for for some Persian wisdom on life.

Yalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, better known simply as Rumi, was a 13th-century Persian poet, faqih, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic.

Nikos, who has commented on several of my articles, recently sent me 75 Rumi quotes. Most of them are worthy of thoughtful note. In the list, every 10th one is highlighted. There are many nuggets of wisdom in the entire list. For different people, different ones will have the biggest impact. I won’t try to select for you.

All of this advice, no matter the source, essentially comes down to positive mindset. Travel restrictions, wild stock market fluctuations, etc., can lead one to think negatively. We have no control over those things. One thing we can always control is our mindset. Keeping a positive mindset helps us through the toughest of times. In a positive mindset we are much more effective at addressing what we can control.

Napoleon Hill famously said, “Fear and faith can’t co-exist.” Have faith that you can produce the results you want, and set fear aside.

Be positive and grateful.

Thinking of Starting a Company?

What makes an entrepreneur successful?


Of course that question could have about a million answers! 


One might also ask, “What makes an entrepreneur fail?” Again, many possible answers.


Ami Kassar started his company, MultiFunding, 10 years ago. He’s endured and persevered through the usual ups and downs in a start-up company. Here he describes ten of what he considers the most important lessons he’s learned. In his bio, it’s mentioned that he’s written a book. Strangely, the title of the book is omitted from the bio. It’s The Growth Dilemma. Of course, it’s available on Amazon.


Many of these lessons we’ve discussed here over the years. I’ll comment on a few of them.

6. Live your values — and build a team that shares them.
7. Love what you do — or it’s not worth it.

For me, these two concepts are centrally important for business…and for life in general.If you’re doing something that misaligns with who you are and your core beliefs, you’re being inauthentic. Being inauthentic is always a recipe for trouble.Of course there will be chores you find unpleasant. Sometimes you can delegate those chores to someone who enjoys doing them, and does them well. Often you just have to bite the bullet and do a job you don’t enjoy. As the leader, you often have to say, “The buck stops here”.Find satisfaction and joy in the result you’re producing. That’s the key concept here. Usually that means, among other things, that you’re bringing someone great value.


1. Join a peer group.
8. Keep mentors close.


These two together remind us that asking for and accepting help and advice is important. Trying to do any new thing without that is far more difficult than it needs to be. And…as has often been said, it’s “lonely at the top”. A supportive person to talk with can be just what you need when the going gets tough.Everyone needs a coach! Scroll down to the middle of that page to skip all the extra stuff I was then including!


2. Don’t be a jerk.
10. Transparency wins the day.


Treating people the way you want to be treated is important. This includes customers, employees, suppliers, and others. And remember to think about how they want to be treated. In some cases it may be different from how you want to be treated.


9. Celebrate victories along the way.


In any endeavor, it’s valuable to congratulate yourself on your wins. Learn from your losses but don’t dwell on them.


Kassar fleshes out these ideas, and a few others, from his own personal journey. Enjoy!

How Will You, or Your Prospect, Choose a Coach?

Dennis Hooper  understands employees, relationships and how people work together. In large organizations, and in small ones. His experience includes 30 years in large company HR management and 5 years with his own small business. All that has prepared him for 10 years (so far) of leadership coaching. And he has several certifications to back that up.

Dennis knows what he’s talking about when it comes to selecting a coach. That’s what we’ll explore this week. For many business people, deciding to hire a coach in the first place is difficult. If you’re a coach, you know how much people agonize over the decision. Dennis’s article could often be a valuable resource for you to offer your prospects. 

If you’re not a coach you may be, or perhaps should be, considering hiring a coach. I recommend it! Here’s an article I wrote a  couple of years ago about that. Then if you so desire, you can check out Dennis’ article to consider how to select a coach.


In making this decision, people ask:

  • How will a coach help me get better results?
  • How much sensitive and personal information must I divulge to a coach?
  • What if I find I don’t trust the coach I hire?
  • How much will a coach cost?

When someone has found answers to those questions, how will he or she decide what coach to hire? Even if some questions remain less than fully answered, one might decide (rightly I believe) that a coach will help clear things up. Any coach will be happy to talk with you before you hire him or her.


In his excellent examination of the important considerations in selecting a coach, Dennis discusses five issues to explore:

  • References
  • Competence
  • Desire to serve
  • Commitment
  • Chemistry

For each he talks about why the factor is important and how to learn what you need to know about your candidates.


Enjoy Dennis’ article. I hope you find it valuable.

Like to Talk? Like for People to Listen to You?

Relationships are fundamental to life. In fact, they define your life.


Solid relationships depend on real conversations. Two (or more) people, preferably face to face. Or at least in a live exchange by telephone, Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, or whatever real-time tool you prefer. 


Text or email messages are  data exchanges,  not conversations. 


A conversation means real persons exchanging ideas in real time. One person speaks, the other responds within a few seconds.


Glassdoor recently named Celeste Headlee as having the #1 must-watch TED talk for every recruiter and hiring manager. Here’s that talk. It  offers ten excellent tips for engaging in meaningful and enjoyable (for everyone!) conversations. The video runs just over 11 minutes.


Some of Celeste’s suggestions debunk some common advice you’ve probably heard. She discusses ways to show you’re paying attention. She says: If you are paying attention, you don’t need to do anything else to show you’re paying attention!


Celeste says other hallmarks of good conversation include:

  • Honesty – If you don’t know for sure, skip it, or admit you’re not sure.
  • Brevity – Skip unimportant details. Nothing is more boring to your audience than dates, names, etc. that add nothing to your message.
  • Clarity – Think about what you’ll say, and how you’ll say it, so you make it crystal-clear.
  • Listening – Paying close attention to what others say – to learn, not to formulate a reply.
  • Prepare to be amazed!

You can learn more about Celeste here.


Enjoy Celeste’s lively presentation, and think about what you can do to improve your conversations. 


Better conversations will improve your relationships, and that will improve your life!

What Will Replace Facebook?

Something we’ve sometimes discussed here is the value (or not) of “social” media.


Recently I listened to a fascinating interview on Alex Sanfelippo’s Creating A Brand blogsite. He was talking with Gina Bianchini, founder of  Mighty Networks. Gina believes that Facebook, Instagram, etc., connect people in a way that doesn’t stimulate them positively. Her take is that new users add no increased value to existing members. The network grows with diverse-interested and often negative elements.


At Gina’s  Mighty Networks,  a group of people with common interests can form an online community. This community will have a pinpoint focus. For example a group might be radio-controlled model aircraft enthusiasts. Such groups could also have a more serious purpose, such as investments, or strategies to retain employees.  Here’s the interview (about 30 minutes) where Gina fleshes out this idea. She also explains why these groups promote healthier chats than do social media.


In the pre-social-media world, people often got together, in person, in groups with like interests. There were gardening clubs, woodworking clubs, poetry clubs, etc. Often they were even more specialized than those examples. Some of them of course still exist. They’re the kinds of groups Gina promotes on Mighty Networks. 


By joining these groups on line, the members can communicate with others anywhere. It’s important though that the conversations remain focused on the group topic. Other conversations should be taken “off-line” – to a separate communication. They might even become the focus of a new group. A moderator should watch to see that things stay on track.


Gina believes that the best ideas come from people with similar interests stimulating their thinking in conversation and camaraderie. I agree.


The large diverse social media networks have often become platforms for spreading discontent and criticism. I recently had a disagreement with someone who was prone to making sarcastic comments in “reply all” emails or WhatsApp groups. This is the sort of thing that can often happen on social media sites. Gina points out that unpleasantness spreads much faster than positivity. It can become poisonous!


To me, it seems that Gina’s model provides a better way for positive people to communicate in like-minded groups. Some people will of course still prefer the broader platforms. They’re welcome to them!