Are you a chronic problem solver?

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Are you a chronic problem solver?

To: The ReLaunch Guild and Friends
From: Gil Gerretsen, President
Date: April 10, 2017
Subject: Avoiding Life As A Crash Test Dummy

Think about and evaluate your problem solving capacity and opportunities. In media interviews with self-made billionaires, there is one thing that consistently stands out. They are almost universally excellent problem solvers AND they possess a strong internal drive to fix those problems.

At first, they are seldom doing it for the money. Typically, they have worked in the field long enough to have a solid awareness and understanding of an emerging problem and it's implications. They also have a genuine empathy for the people impacted by the problem and a deep-seated desire is to mitigate that problem for those people (sometimes they are one of those people).

As chronic problem solvers, they then use their knowledge and imagination to convert their empathy into a business idea with broad potential. By identifying an under-exploited marketplace need before others recognize it, they find themselves in a unique position to use that obstacle to advantage by developing an inventive solution and subsequently launching a business. Sometimes, it's a simple idea that becomes a blockbuster solution.

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Is your business genuinely unique?

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Is your business genuinely unique?

To: The ReLaunch Guild and Friends
From: Gil Gerretsen, President
Date: March 3, 2017
Subject: Avoiding Life As A Crash Test Dummy

I have conversations on a regular basis with the leaders of professional service provider firms and often the conversation turns to the issue of uniqueness. They are almost universally convinced that they are different and better in some way. Almost as often, they have great difficulty articulating that difference. 

Most often, it comes across as bland and boring. "Blah, blah blah" is all that a prospect would hear. That's a certain death trap for any firm that has growth aspirations. If your prospects develop or hold the perception that your firm is fundamentally the same as the other available options, then the only battle front remaining is price.

So that's your red flag! If you are consistently pressed on the price of your services (or products), then your marketplace is telling you that they don't believe you bring anything special or unique to the table. Your services are perceived as a commodity and that one provider is as good as any other.

This can be a difficult conversation to have because the leaders hold deep opinions that their firm is indeed superior. In many cases, there are certainly notable distinctives, but they remain an unclear or inarticulate element of their story telling. 

So what should you do? I often start from the client perspective. What do your current clients rave about? What do they value? If a peer asked them about your firm, what distinctives would they point out? Then, ask yourself if those are the opinions you want the marketplace to hold. If not, why has the marketplace not connected with what you think is actually most important?

If you are not hearing the answers you want to hear from your clients, or if you cannot even figure out for yourself what makes you unique, then sometimes the views of an outsider can bring them into focus. This could be a trusted adviser, industry collaborator or skilled consultant.

Just as some people need spectacles to see better, it can also be wise to admit some vision problems for your firm and go see an "eye doctor" to set the stage for relaunch and growth.

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Drip marketing is like waterboarding

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Drip marketing is like waterboarding

To: The ReLaunch Guild and Friends
From: Gil Gerretsen, President
Date: January 5, 2017
Subject: Avoiding Life As A Crash Test Dummy

Have you noticed how many companies (and people too) just spew forth large quantities of blah, blah, blah content? You look at it and wonder "What's the point?" I know we get a lot of it in our office, much of it from businesses with whom we have no prior history (and no interest in). So why do they do it?

They do it because most of the marketing evangelists in today's world espouse the theory of "drip marketing." It feels like an everyday version of waterboarding. It's torture on the recipients because it provides no clear value. Isn't that how you feel too? Torture when you check your email. Torture when you check Facebook or Linkedin or Twitter (or whatever else you use). No matter where you turn, there's torture.

Are they wrong? Well yes and no. It is certainly true that if a business remains out of sight, it remains out of mind. People won't buy from you if they don't remember you are there. So businesses think they need to bombard prospects and customers with stuff. We think they have the wrong mindset.

It should not be a matter of constantly staying in front of them. That's just meaningless noise and people have become very good at ignoring it. Rather, the goal should be to design an consistent and ongoing campaign to keep people in your target audience talking about you. Give them news or stories to discuss with their peer network. Make them wonder about things. Explore some controversy. Set plans in motion to get a reaction!

That can be hard work, which is why so many marketing folks don't bother. They take the easy road and just continue to spew forth thoughtless content ... over and over and over. If you're stuck in that trap, stop! ReThink! Then ReLaunch with something worthwhile on a schedule that makes sense for you and your audience.

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Do you have a strong thirst or quest for more knowledge?

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Do you have a strong thirst or quest for more knowledge?

To: The ReLaunch Guild and Friends
From: Gil Gerretsen, President
Date: December 10, 2016
Subject: Avoiding Life As A Crash Test Dummy

Top entrepreneurs have incredible curiosity and a strong desire to investigate, learn and master the skills that will propel their success forward. Most gain industry knowledge and experience elsewhere before launching out on their own. For example, Steve Jobs worked at Atari before founding Apple. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whose academic research explored the mathematical properties of the internet, were the ones that launched Google. Their mastery of specific knowledge is what opened doors.

Learners are earners! Their quest for knowledge generally continues unabated even after setting off on their own. That's how they discover new options and opportunities missed by others. They investigate and study whatever they need to know because they do not want to be overly dependent on others. They will certainly engage experts, and develop specialized support infrastructures, but generally with the specific intent of becoming competent in that subject matter themselves, especially when it is critical to the mission. Wise entrepreneurs should always seek to learn more about the intricacies of their industry and business.

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How do you respond when your ideas don't go as planned?

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How do you respond when your ideas don't go as planned?

To: The ReLaunch Guild and Friends
From: Gil Gerretsen, President
Date: December 5, 2016
Subject: Avoiding Life As A Crash Test Dummy

Many self-made billionaires were fired from established companies early in their careers. Many others resigned from companies in their field of choice, typically out of frustration because the company moved too slowly, was too antagonistic towards their ideas, or simply bored them. It's a common outcome since most existing companies are set up to optimize what has already been created. Few have the capacity to once again disrupt their own creation.

What is unique is their ability to shrug off rejection. They see themselves as being actively in control of their own destiny, and as a result, learn to move on quickly. Situations affect them but don't hinder them. They remain self-confident and are not easily discouraged. They are able to deal with setbacks because they primarily see those events as feedback. They heed the lessons of failure and learn from their mistakes without making any excuses. Setbacks are feedback, not terminal failures.

As they move forward, self-made billionaires monetize their mistakes by making calculated risks by trying a number of different ideas over a long period. They believe that experimentation will lead them to their sought-after solution. To them, it's a numbers game. By exploring a number of different options, they are more likely to succeed than their neighbor, who only starts one company or pursues a single business idea over their life. Recognize that people don't remember failure. They remember good.

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Can you negotiate good deals?

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Can you negotiate good deals?

To: The ReLaunch Guild and Friends
From: Gil Gerretsen, President
Date: November 30, 2016
Subject: Avoiding Life As A Crash Test Dummy

One thing that differentiates great business leaders is their ability to negotiate deals. Almost universally, they have a well thought out plan based on extensive data gathering prior to the negotiation. They are also highly observant of body language and behavior during a negotiation because those two thing say a great deal about someone and the status of the negotiation.

During negotiations, they have a distinct ability to detach themselves from events that might otherwise cause them to get angry or flustered. That makes it nearly impossible to manipulate them emotionally. By contrast, most people let their emotions rule when faced with any negotiation, and as a result, are quickly crushed. It’s a rule in negotiations that you won’t get the deal you want if you lose your focus during the process.

Self-made billionaires, in particular, are adept in using their negotiation skills to generate cash flow almost on demand. They can find or provide cash to respond to key opportunities, execute vital initiatives, or pay the bills at just the right time. They know where to look and then put their persuasion skills to powerful use (e.g. financiers and investors).

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Do you manage your brand carefully?

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Do you manage your brand carefully?

To: The ReLaunch Guild and Friends
From: Gil Gerretsen, President
Date: December 5, 2016
Subject: Avoiding Life As A Crash Test Dummy

Self-made billionaires understand from the beginning that people are always watching them, so they manage their messaging very carefully. Customers are watching. Potential investors are watching. The world is watching. The internet and social media has forever changed the way people communicate. It provides vast amounts of information about individuals and businesses, so great branding and message clarity is vital.

Perceived value must be simple to communicate, understand and share. Don’t make people work too hard for it either. Good customer management and relationships are important, so the focus is on giving them what they need, even if they didn't fully know it yet. Front-line or boots-on-the-ground marketing and sales is one of the last leadership behaviors they let go of. Often, they see it as their most important role.

Likewise, they're not as interested in what other people say as much as what they do. Behavior reflects true messaging. Andrew Carnegie famously said "As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do." So, make sure your brand and messages can be easily shared. Be genuine in all things and educate people about your own creation. The message is the master.

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