I found this terrific video (below) in which Buffett teaches students how to become the business hero they want to be (the video is pretty crappy quality but fantastic content!).
I wrote down the basics of the exercise (it starts around Minute 2 of the above video)
As Buffett explains, you don’t have to be a student to benefit from this exercise, but the earlier in life you do it the better!
Ok, grab a piece of paper…this won’t take long:
1) Pick a fellow student/colleague who you’d like to own 10% of for the rest of their lifetime
Question: Is it the person with the:
Buffett thinks you’ll probably end up looking for qualitative factors such as:
Write down the qualities of that person you want to own 10% of on the left-hand side of a piece of paper.
and then, to continue the exercise, you then:
2) Pick a person who you would like to “sell short” based on their performance for life.
This would probably not be the person with the lowest IQ or lowest grades — more likely, Buffett says, this person has turned you off with such qualities as:
Write down the qualities of this person you want to “sell short’ on the right-hand side of your sheet of paper.
Buffett suggests that if you focus on emulating the qualities on the left-hand side and avoiding the qualities on the right-hand side, you’ll eventually become the person that you want to own 10% of.
But even better than owning 10% of that person, you’ll own 100% of that person…because it’s yourself!
[My new friend Umberto Leone was an Assistant Coach in the NFL for the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders; he wrote the article on preparation below (with some editing for space by me).]
As U.S. President Abe Lincoln once said about the importance of being prepared:
“If I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 4 hours sharpening my axe.”
As a former Assistant Coach in the National Football League for five seasons, as well as three years assisting on the collegiate level, my work-life revolved around preparation.
I learned some valuable tips & pointers on preparedness and look forward to sharing them with you.
You hear the word “teamwork” thrown around the sports world all the time. Many athletes thank their teammates for the individual awards they receive.
Not only is teamwork a requirement on the field of play, within the preparation process teamwork is crucial.
As a coaching staff, each of the preparation duties is shared amongst the entire staff.
For example, one coach may be responsible for the 1st and 2nd down game plan while another coach’s responsibility is 3rd down and 2 minute.
Another coach may have the Red Area and Goal Line situations.
You must rely on the successful work of each individual coach in order for the whole coaching staff to be properly prepared.
Teamwork Preparation Questions For You:
To properly prepare you have to be able to ask and answer the appropriate “what if” questions; this helps you increase and broaden your mindset.
An increased and broadened mind allows you to think about a variety of possibilities and how to prepare for them all.
In football terms, some examples of the “what if” questions we asked ourselves each week to help us prepare:
When you ask yourself the appropriate “what if” questions, it will deepen and broaden your mind and thus drastically improve your preparation level.
What-If Preparation Questions For Your Team:
In football it was vital for us to think as our opponent would think.
We’d study ourselves in a way that the opponent would: understanding our weaknesses, knowing the areas that they would attack, and being able to prepare accordingly.
For example, we prepared for the following game by studying our opponent on film (and over time collecting a huge database of their plays).
During practice our Scout team would utilize those plays and run them against our own team.
At times we would run the play a little differently – attacking the weak area of our team in a way that would make the opponent’s play more successful.
For example, if we are playing the Eagles, our scout team wouldn’t have a slow non-athletic QB: we’d put the closest version to Michael Vick we had on our team to better role play that position.
Role-Play Preparation Questions For You:
Though we only played one game every week, the amount of preparation that went into every game was astounding.
From the Sunday evening following the afternoon game, to the Saturday night team meal and sometimes even until the Sunday morning breakfast, we were preparing.
Legendary coach Joe Paterno once said
“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital”. As NFL Coaches, we all definitely have that will.
Without doing the research, your mind is not prepared to ask the appropriate “what if” questions. Your mind is no shape able to role-play either.
Imagine being a football coach and never having seen the opposing team play a game. You would have no idea what plays they like to do, what strengths and weaknesses they have as a team, etc.
Research/Study Hard Preparation Question For You:
In preparation, once you are satisfied with your thought process — ideally by completing preparation tips 1 through 4 above — you need to practice your plan…through action!
Learning by actions allows you to experience things you originally didn’t think about.
As a football coach, the daily practices we had were crucial to the team being prepared for each week’s game. In addition to the role-playing practices mentioned above, we did individual position drills.
Each position worked on individual drills pertaining to their position:
And if we knew that the other team posed a problem for us on any of the fundamental levels we made sure we worked that fundamental area more intensely.
For example if they had small – quick wide receivers our DB’s worked more on foot quickness drills.
Practicing at different speeds was also important:
Practice & Review Preparation Questions For You:
Our expectation was to be prepared enough that no matter what happened during the course of the game, we were able to handle it in a successful fashion.
Anything the opposing team did, from the most usual to the most extreme, our team was prepared enough that they could face it all and still be successful.
I believe these preparation tips I learned from the NFL could be used to help you with anything from preparing for a job interview to preparing a business plan to preparing for an exam.
The key is to get prepared for whatever key challenge you face.
A Recap Of My 5 Tips To Successful Preparation
Following these 5 guidelines will go a long way to helping you achieve number 6 in this article – Successful End Results!
If you want to get in touch with Umberto Leone he asks that you do so through his LinkedIn profile.
If you love business and are, or are considering, starting a business, the book E-Myth by Michael Gerber (sketched below) is a must-read.
Gerber is a master of teaching business who has taught thousands of business leaders.
Here are some key takeaways from The E-Myth Revisited:
1) The Entrepreneur
Blind Spot: Most people are problems that get in the way of the entrepreneur.
2) The Manager
The Manager chases after the Entrepreneur to clean up their mess…for without the Entrepreneur, there would be no mess!
3) The Technician
1) Infancy Stage
In Infancy, you (the founder) ARE the business. You’re often working 10+ hours a day and absolutely nailing your business. You’re likely mostly being the Technician described above.
How do you know if you’re in Infancy?
Answer: If you were removed from the business, the business would disappear.
So, you don’t want to be an Infant very long.
Infancy ends when you decide that your business can not continue to be run where it’s nearly 100% dependent on you (many owners quit in their Infancy stage).
If you don’t quit your biz at this point, you move on to the Adolescence stage.
Adolescence begins when you decide to get some help.
This is often precipitated by a crisis in the Infancy stage. 😉
Gerber cautions that a major mistake many entrepreneurs make during Adolescence is that when they make their first hire they Manage by Abdication (handing off an assignment and running away) rather than Manage by Delegation.
And Gerber points out that when you Manage by Abdication, the person/people you hired will begin dropping some balls…you may start to notice that:
The reason: because you didn’t teach your new hire well enough!
You weren’t being a good “Manager.”
And then the Technician in you jumps back into action…micro-managing every part of the business process to fix the product, the marketing, the customer service.
Before you know it, you are back doing all the work again…being the “Technician.”
At this point, a business usually faces 3 scenarios…they:
But there is hope, Gerber points out, and that’s the highest level of a business performance.
So how do you become a “Mature” business? Simple…you start out that way!
Gerber points out that IBM’s Tom Watson attributed the following to IBM’s success:
“I had a clear picture of what the company would look like when it was finally done”
“I then asked myself how a company which looked like that would have to act.”
“…we began to act that way from the beginning.”
“In other words, I realized that for IBM to become a great company it would have to act like a great company long before it ever became one.”
These moves by an “Entrepreneur” at the beginning of a business are thus quite key.
Gerber then recommends a series of tips/approaches to how an Entrepreneur can design a business from the ground up as one that will become mature and successful. They include:
Most of us can use a confidence boost once in awhile. Here’s one exercise I used that works…and it actually feels good and positive as you’re doing it!
I call it the…
Write down something that you’ve done that you’re really proud of in life — it can be related to business, family, sports or anything.
What’s important about the achievement you select is that it made you feel really good.
Here are examples of achievements I’m proud of:
To the right of the achievement, write down the qualities you possessed (or conditions you set up) to make that achievement happen.
For example, to win the basketball championship I wrote down things like:
It helps to write these down as “I [fill in the blank]” statements.
You should have at least 5 to 10 of these qualities.
Ok, you should be feeling pretty good about yourself at this point…after all, you’re revisiting some amazing achievement from your life! That was a great day, wasn’t it!?
So, let’s do another achievement (you’ll later see that it’s important to do multiple achievements).
Now that you’ve done 3 achievements, you should have a list of a couple of dozen qualities listed.
Review the list on the right-hand side (the reasons you accomplished these achievements) as this is your master list of “Qualities of Achievement” — some of the many things you possess to do amazing things.
There will be qualities that repeat among achievements too — even though you may use slightly different language for them — those repeat qualities are arguably among the most powerful qualities you possess!
I found it useful to make a separate list (mine is below) of the repeating qualities. Here are some of my own:
|I utilized my network of contacts|
|I was bold|
|I bought time|
|I was positive|
|I leveraged my unique abilities|
|I created a plan|
|I did the “right thing”|
|I was persistent|
|I created rituals|
|I was persuasive|
Now, what’s cool is that any time you are facing some new endeavor, you can look at your ‘Qualities of Achievement List” to be reminded of the qualities YOU possess to further achieve!
Furthermore, these qualities will give you ideas on how to tackle your new achievement!
After all, you achieved greatness before…and you will surely achieve it again!
Steve Jobs told Stanford students that when he wakes up each day he tries asking himself:
“If this were my last day on earth, would I be happy with my to-do list.”
And if his answer is “no” for three or four days in a row, he does something about it.
Well, a goal in my life is to help people explore their passions, ideally in a way that helps them make a living.
I thought I’d share three steps that I used to further my own career passions.
Ok, so let’s dig in…
It starts with picking a passion — your passion may be obvious to you ( politics, sports, medicine, photography religion) and you’re good to go.
If your passions are not obvious to you, ask those closest to you (friends, colleagues, family members) what they think. …
Here are my notes from the panel:
- Drum up publicity (because people saw the film promoted on Groupon)
- Sold tickets to the actual movie
Note: He’d like to see more demographic information on these customers that Groupon generated for hm
Note: The panel was moderated by Erick Schonfeld and David Hornik.
Have you ever wanted to meet someone, even though you don’t know them? Perhaps you read about them in a book or just heard that they were an awesome person.
Here are some approaches I use to get to know a “desired connection” better.
5 Tips On How To Get To Know Someone You’ve Never Met
First off, look them up on LinkedIn to see what connections you have in common.
If the desired connection is a 2nd degree connection (i.e. a connection of mine is a 1st degree connection to them), then look closely at those 2nd degree connections and determine if you have such a fantastic relationship with any of the 2nd degree connections that you’d be willing to ask them to introduce you to them.
If the answer is “yes,” then great…ask your connection for an intro (but read tip #5 first!).
If the answer is “no,” then instead focus on trying to add value to those 2nd degree connections and don’t bother asking for the introduction yet (reason: if you ask a favor of someone, you want them to feel like it’s worth their while!).
If the desired connection is a 3rd degree connection or more distant, then I recommend you work harder at expanding your LinkedIn connections (see my business networking section of articles (including LinkedIn tips!)).
You should constantly work towards being just a connection away from meeting anyone.
This is simple: if you can find your desired connection’s LinkedIn page, then look at their profile page (a few fields underneath their name) for any links they include next to “Websites” or “Twitter.” …
I remember when my friend Eben Pagan shared the concept of Inevitability Thinking with me — it’s such a simple yet powerful approach to achieving your objective…damn, why didn’t I think of that!?
The easiest way for me to share Inevitability Thinking is to give an example (I’m going to use a hypothetical example of an Internet business I want to build).
To do this exercise on your own you would need:
But, if you want, you can just read my version of this exercise first.
Ok, so here are the steps:
First step is to articulate your objective.
For this exercise, let’s assume your objective is to build a content-based Web site that generates $20,000 per month in advertising revenue.
Easy next step: let’s pick a time period to meet your objective of $20,000 in ad revenue per month.
We all want to reach our goals immediately…but let’s be realistic: how does one year sound?
After all, most things that matter in life take time.
One year it is!
Ok, this is still super-easy.
Now you just identify what levers to pull to make it imperative to achieving your objective.
I call these inevitability levers because they are imperative to your objective.
Let’s start at the very top-line of levers you’ll be working with.
For example, to build a content-based Web site that generates ad revenue, you’re gonna need at least these two levers:
A) Advertisements (that are sold)
B) Content (that’s on your Web site)
Note: down below we’ll drill down deeper into a few mini- levers within these inevitability levers.
You do have to get your hands a little dirty on this one.
Next up, you’re going to start to make assumptions about your inevitability levers.
The key tip about your assumptions is to make them realistic/conservative: afterall, we’re trying to make it inevitable that you’ll achieve your objectives (don’t be overly optimistic).
Let’s start with your advertisements
Advertising revenue is a pretty simple formula: you’ve got to price your ads and you’ve gotta sell your ads.
Let’s start with ad pricing: what’s a conservative assumption we can use on how much you can make from an online advertisement?
Shh, here’s a secret tip on how to track that down: go to a site called “Google.com.”
I searched “average CPM (CPM stands for cost per thousand impressions) of an online ad” and I found that $2.43 is a good average CPM for the Internet as a whole, according to Comscore.
note: I also found a cool graph in this Adify Report that showed CPMs for different vertical markets such as Automotive, Beauty/Fashion, Business, Moms and Parents, Sports, Technology, Travel, Real Estate, Healthy Living/Lifestyle, News and Food (the CPMs in this graph were much higher (average of $7.71 but you want your objectives to be inevitable so lets be conservative and use the $2.43 figure instead).
Ok, let’s use the average CPM of $2.43; if we use that, then that means you’ll generate $2.43 for every 1,000 impressions (aka page views) of your Web site.
To keep things simple, let’s assume that you’re just selling one ad on every page of your Web site.
Now we need to figure out how much volume of ads you need to sell (since we’re selling one ad per page, we can just call what we’re looking for: “page views” (i.e. each time someone views a page of your content, one ad is served).
Now, bust out your calculator: you want $20,000 per month so you’re going to have to do the following calculation to figure out what would make it inevitable to get enough page views to generate twenty grand:
20,000 ÷ by ($2.43/1000) =
8,230,452 page views that you would need to generate $20,000 in ad revenue.
Ok, now you have to do the same exercise with 8.23M page views:
What would make it inevitable that you would generate 8.23M page views?
The answer: a certain number of “visits” to your Web site. On the Internet, a page view is generated by a visitor visiting your site and looking at a certain number of pages.
Ok, back to assumptions (and don’t forget to be conservative about your assumptions…after all, we’re trying to make it inevitable that you’ll achieve your objective!).
And don’t put your calculator away just yet either!
So we need to use another assumption for how many pages a visitor would view to continue our math.
You can go Google your particular vertical, but let’s keep things simple and assume that a conservative estimate is that an average visitor will view 5 pages each time they visit your site.
So, if you want it to be inevitable to generate 8.23M page views, then you would need to do this calculation:
8.23M ÷ 5 = 1,646,000 visits
So, if you had 1.65M visits it would be inevitable that you would generate 8.23M page views and thus $20,000 in ad revenue (using your conservative assumptions of course!).
Ok, so now you might ask:
How the heck am I gonna get 1.65M visitors to my Web site (in a month!)!?
Well, you’re probably already thinking of a few different ways such as:
All are good approaches and you could apply inevitability thinking to any of them…but let’s keep it simple.
Let’s say you believe that your Web site’s content can help you attract traffic (remember, content is your other core lever!).
Ok, so how much content would you need to make it inevitable that you would attract 1.65M visitors per month?
Ok, you’re gonna have to make some more assumptions…this time around content.
Here’s where I use my trusty SEOBook tool (see How To Have X-Ray Vision About Your Competition) which will tell me both:
Let’s say that you find that on average your competition generates 100 visitors per month for each page of content that they have (by the way, an example of one page of content would be this article you’re reading right now).
So, if you want it to be inevitable that you’ll receive 1.65M visits in a month through content then you’d do the following calculation:
1.65M ÷ 100 = 165,000 pages of content that you would need
Ok, I know, it sounds like a lot of content.
But, remember, this is one year from now.
And, actually, there are tons of Web sites who generate hundreds of thousands of pages of content with little cost (beyond engineering time and hosting cost).
They get their voluminous content from users (aka “user-generated content”) and many of them do it merely by providing a quality bulletin board or question and answer service.
Check out StackOverflow, for example:
SEOBook tells me they have 8 million pages indexed by Google (note: they were founded in 2000 so they’ve been doing this for 10 years)…and they provide this primarily through offering a Q&A service for engineers.
StackOverFlow claims more than 1M visitors every month…now we’re talking!
Ok, so now what would make it inevitable that you generated 165,000 pages of content?
Well, let’s assume for the moment that you’re going to do a blog instead to generate your content.
Let’s assume that you can write 3 blog entries a day or about 1,000 per year (I’m giving you a couple of weeks of vacation time!)…well, to get to 165,000 pages of content that would take you 165 years!
The oldest living man right now is only 114 so let’s go to plan B.
Well, there are actually free multi-user blogging platforms that allow you to let others blog beyond just you!
So, let’s assume that you can get other writers like you to post 3 blog entries per day (around 1,000 per year with a few vacation days for them too (you’re no slave-driver!).
So, to get 165,000 pages of content through multi-user blogging then you would need:
165,000 ÷ 1,000 = 165 Blog Writers
Ok, so now what would make it inevitable that you could sign up 165 Blog Writers.
Perhaps you have a bunch of Facebook friends or alumni or colleagues who you could talk into helping you blog. But that would be tough for most people so let’s
Let’s look around for a writers group…Googling “writers group” gives me WriterMag, a magazine with more than 30,000 writers.
Ok, so what would it take for you to convince 160 of those 30,000 writers (.533% of them) to write for your blog (many writers might do it for free just for publicity!).
Let’s assume that you talked to WriterMag’s ad sales team and they told you that they were super-confident that if you ran a full-page black and white ad in their magazine — offering their 30,000 readers free publicity on your blog — every month for six months that it would be inevitable that you would get your 160 bloggers.
Well, such an ad looks like it would cost about $10,000 according to the rate card on their Web site (you can often get discounts to “rate card” and my guess is that you’d get at least 25% off for a 6-month commitment (times are tough for the publishing industry!).
So, a commitment by you of $7,500 should get you the 6 months of full-page ads.
Ok, we’re wrapping it up now.
The gist of this invetability thinking exercise is that:
This is of course a simplified version of how you’d really conquer your objective (the devil will be in the details and you’re going to have to do your homework on levers, assumptions and the approaches you use).
But the point is: if your levers and assumptions are roughly correct, you will roughly achieve your objective through this approach.
I hope you found this inevitability thinking exercise useful.