1. Who is your hero?
Tom Peters is my hero because his work on personal branding has inspired my entire career since I graduated from college. In his original “Brand Called You” article, published in Fast Company Magazine in 1997, he noted that we have to be the chief marketing officers for the brand called you. That has always stuck with me as I believe that you need to be accountable for your own career and take charge of your life. If you don’t invest in yourself, why should other people invest in you?
2. What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
The best advice came to me after reading the work by Marcus Buckingham about focusing on your strengths, instead of wasting time improving weaknesses. You will never see me start a restaurant or a gym because I have no expertise or interest in those two types of businesses. I spend all of my time focusing on employment, workplace trends and career advice for my generation. Recently, I’ve come up with a personal mission statement to frame what I’ve done in the past and intend to continue in the future: “My mission in life is to support my generation from student to CEO”. My books are transition books that help my generation move to the next phase of their career. By avoiding opportunities that are not inline with my mission, it saves me time and allows me to focus on what really matters to me.
3. What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
The biggest mistake, that I don’t regret, is spreading myself too thin early on instead of concentrating on a few projects. I had a full-time job, two blogs, a magazine, an online TV show, a freelance writing career and the start of a speaking career. When you take this much on, you can’t possibly invest enough time in each to become the very best. I don’t regret this approach because I was very young and I used to experience to learn as much as possible about starting a business.
4. What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
For the past eight years, I’ve started my day by reviewing the latest workplace research and trends using email and RSS feeds. This eventually led me to start WorkplaceTrends.com last year, which I sold ten months later to Future Workplace. The importance of this daily routine is that it allows me to stay so current in my industry that I’m viewed as an expert and am more respected when I speak.
5. Who is your company's target customer?
Our company’s target customer is either a Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) or the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) of a Fortune 1000 company.
6. What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Start with a small goal before you have a much larger one. For instance, try and make one hundred dollars each month before you shoot for one thousand dollars. The problem with most entrepreneurs is that they want to make a million dollars tomorrow, which is impossible and unsustainable. Learn to start small so that when you get back you’ll be able to handle the cashflow.
7. Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their business to the next level?
Meet witih at least one person you respect everyday and come prepared with questions to ask them. The smartest people, who will learn to be the best entrepreneurs, ask a lot of questions. You don’t need to have a single mentor but you do need to make the effort to meet people and share knowledge if you want to grow.
8. What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
My definition of success is to make money doing what you love, and then building a life around it. Each indnividual will know when they’ve succeeded in their business. I’ve done a lot more than I thought was possible growing up so I consider myself successful regardless of what the future holds.
9. What is your favourite quote?
In my first book, Me 2.0, I said: “Be the real you because everyone else is taken and replicas don’t sell for as much.” It resonated with a lot of people who always compared their status in life with others. Instead of focusing on others, spend time improving yourself!