Millions of people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, but they never take that all-important first step. Too many things get in the way of their pursuit of business ownership, or they keep convincing themselves that their dream isn’t realistic.
If you ever want to move past this phase and found your own business, you need to acknowledge the specific obstacles that are holding you back and work to resolve them. Here are seven of the most common challenges that may be standing between you and your entrepreneurial dreams—and ways you can kick them to the curb.
1. Financial limitations
Launching a business takes money, and most people don’t have ample cash to throw at a startup. There are several options here. First off, you could begin saving now for the funds to establish your business. If you shop for a better mortgage and reduce your house payments by refinancing, you can sock the savings away in your startup fund. You can trim costs in other areas to put away a few hundred dollars each month or save even more by picking up a side gig.
Barring that, you can secure funding in a variety of ways, such as borrowing from friends and family, crowdfunding, seeking loans and grants or even working with angel investors and venture capitalists. There’s always a way forward.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur typically demands experience; you need to understand your industry and business management in general if you want to earn a living from your venture. When you have limited experience, you may be reluctant to move forward, and understandably so.
You can make up for this, however, by actively seeking the experience you lack. Take an online course to gain a grasp of business management basics. Strive for a leadership position with your current employer so you’ll acquire strategic planning and people management skills. Work with a mentor or shadow an entrepreneur you admire.
3. No standout idea
You can’t build a business if you don’t have a promising idea for a product or service you can sell. Without a solid business plan, you won’t be able to convince investors or partners to join you—and you won’t even know where to begin. Unfortunately, this is one of the least “fudgeable” obstacles on this list. Without a good idea, you can’t start a business, period.
Luckily, there are ways to stimulate better idea generation, such as talking to a broad range of people, reading entrepreneurial content and taking a more robust approach to brainstorming. Techniques like mind mapping and word banking can get your creative juices flowing.
4. Current responsibilities
Some people avoid starting a business because of existing responsibilities or constraints on their time. Their current full-time job, their status as a parent or other personal responsibilities hold them back from their entrepreneurial ambitions.
Here the best approach is to determine how much of an impact these responsibilities have and consider ways to delegate or remove them. Could you realistically quit your day job, for example, or hire someone to help with household duties or childcare?
5. Fear of failure
Lack of confidence is an entrepreneurship killer. It’s true that the failure rate for new businesses is relatively high, with half of new companies failing within five years. To buck those odds, you’ll need a healthy dose of confidence in yourself and your idea.
The only solution to a fear of failure is to change your mindset. You have to see failure as an opportunity for learning and growth and stop seeing it as the end of the road, an indictment of your abilities or a stain on your character. Reading accounts by successful entrepreneurs will inspire you to see the possibilities rather than focusing only on the risks.
6. Aversion to stress or hard work
Starting and running a business demands a lot of effort. You’ll likely be putting in long hours and dealing with stressful issues. On top of that, your first few years are apt to be highly inconsistent, with your business only making a profit some of the time. This can wreak havoc on your finances and peace of mind. If you’re not feeling up to this kind of pressure, or if you’re loath to work more than 40 hours a week, entrepreneurship may not be for you.
Again, the only way around this obstacle is to change your attitude. Remember that all this hard work will be in service to yourself, not an employer. While the risks are on you, so are the rewards.
7. Poor timing
One of the most common excuses you’ll hear (or hear yourself saying) is that it’s “just not the right time” to start a business. The truth is, there’s never a truly “right” time—you can always find some reason that today, or this month or this year isn’t ideal for launching your venture.
But like beginning a diet on a Wednesday or joining a gym in February, the trick is to make your own right time. Microsoft was born during the oil crisis of the 1970s, while Airbnb and Uber were founded in the depths of the Great Recession. Remind yourself that the success of your business will depend not on “the times” but on you.
The Realities of Entrepreneurship
It’s true that anyone can become an entrepreneur with enough grit and persistence. Most entrepreneurs with solid ideas have a good chance of becoming successful if they remain adaptable. But it’s also important to realize that not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship.
If you’re intimidated by the stress, inconsistency and long hours associated with startup life, or if you truly love your day job and you’re afraid to leave, maybe business ownership isn’t right for you. That said, if you feel the pull of entrepreneurship but keep making excuses to avoid getting started, you owe it to yourself to challenge those excuses and try to move past them.
This article was written by Serenity Gibbons and published on Forbes.com.
You will never control everything that happens, but you can always control how you respond.
One day in 1984, Richard Branson sat in a Puerto Rico airport, eager to board his American Airlines flight to the British Virgin Islands.
Then American canceled the flight.
Frustrated, the 28-year-old Branson went to the back of the airport and used a credit card to hire a plane. He borrowed a blackboard, wrote, “Virgin Airlines: One way to the Virgin Islands, $39,” walked around the airport…and managed to fill the plane.
When the flight landed in the Virgin Islands, a passenger said, “Sharpen up the service a bit and you can be in the airline business.” The next day Branson called Boeing to ask if they had any used 747s for sale. Starting an airline hadn’t been on Branson’s radar until he was “lucky” that his flight got canceled.
Article continues after video.FEATURED VIDEO
Hold that thought.
Research shows that traits like passion, mental toughness, constant learning, and a willingness to take risks do lead to greater success. Hard work tends to be rewarded. Perseverance is often the difference between success and failure; give up, and failure is guaranteed. Intelligent risks do, at times, pay off. And if they don’t, what you learn from new experiences makes success more likely the next time.
When you outwork, outthink, out-skill, and outlast other people, you’re much more likely to be successful.
The Serendipity Mindset.
Research shows that luck also plays a part. Success is based on factors you can’t control: Being at the right place at the right time. Meeting the right person at the right time. Experiencing something you weren’t necessarily looking for.
As Busch writes, “Unforeseen events, chance meetings and bizarre coincidences aren’t just minor distractions or specks of grit in our well-oiled lives. The unexpected is often the critical factor–it’s often the force that makes the greatest difference in our lives.”
For Branson, that meant hiring a plane, and financing the cost by selling tickets to other passengers–instead of waiting for a flight the next day. And then realizing that he could create a better airline than the incumbent brands.
For Steve Jobs, that meant recognizing that his relationship with Steve Wozniak could lead to more than a shared appreciation of electronics and playing pranks. For Stephen Hawking, that meant seizing the “opportunity” his disability provided to avoid teaching, lecturing, and attending committee meetings, and instead devote himself fully to research.
Which is why, according to Busch, “Cultivating serendipity is first and foremost about looking at the world with open eyes and seeing opportunities others don’t. It’s not just about being in the right place at the right time and having something happen to us (blind luck), but rather a process in which we can be actively involved.”
How can you develop a serendipity mindset?
Meet more people. Try more things. When things don’t go according to plan, don’t take a step back. Step forward. Embrace what feels like chaos and see where it leads.
Have a goal, have a plan. And then be willing to maneuver. What seems like the wrong place might actually be the right place. What seems like a chance meeting might be the start of an important partnership or collaboration.
What seems like bad luck might cause you to stumble on an idea, a market, a new business….
As long as you’re open to the possibility.
This article was written for Inc.com by Jeff Haden.
Wall Street firms famously love to hire renowned CEOs, ex-presidents, retired generals and famous coaches to give inspirational talks to senior management and rank-and-file employees. As a philanthropist and the co-founder of The Carlyle Group—one of the world’s largest private equity firms with $221 billion in assets under management, David Rubenstein has attended his share of these events only to find some of the speakers “not the most scintillating.”
Based on dozens of interviews he has conducted with chief executives, politicians, thought leaders and industry trailblazers in the past five years, Rubenstein wants readers to see the full spectrum of assets and liabilities in leaders, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Oprah, who inspired Rubenstein to be a better listener. “Hopefully, you’ll have better leadership out of all this,” he says, aiming to inspire younger generations to be leaders themselves.
“I’m getting up there in years and what is going to be one of the legacies I can leave to people and my children? Maybe I can have a couple of books,” says the private equity billionaire, who published his first collection of interviews, The American Story, last year. An insatiable reader who reads “six newspapers a day, at least a dozen weekly periodicals, and at least one book a week,” Rubenstein believes that a lifetime of curiosity is essential for a good leader.
For those hoping to fast-track their way to the top, there is no shortcut to becoming a leader, Rubenstein says. Reflecting on his 2017 interview with Nike cofounder Phil Knight, he writes that Knight’s original vision to start an athletic shoe company was hardly the only factor in his success. It was also Knight’s willingness “to put in the long hours—and to suffer the occasional failures and crises—to make this vision a reality, and in recent years to turn the operation over to experienced managers who could further build the company.”
In addition to the interviews, Rubenstein also lists twelve pillars for being a good leader: luck, desire to succeed, pursuit of uniqueness, hard work, focus, persistence, persuasion, humility, credit-sharing, ability to keep learning, integrity, and failure. (Rubenstein, who is worth $3.2 billion, admits that his biggest business mistake was selling Carlyle’s $80 million investment in Amazon shortly after its IPO in 1996. He says that stake would now be worth about $4 billion.).
Finances aside, 2020 has been a devastating year for billions around the world who have turned to leaders—in politics, business, sports, and entertainment—for clarity and hope. Rubenstein believes those who understand humility and rise to the occasion will be the ones remembered for their actions, such as late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Tony Fauci is in a league by himself,” Rubenstein says. “He’s been swatted down by lots of people, and some people criticize him for lots of reasons, but he’s stayed in the arena and he’s fought for what he believes are really, really good principles.”
Another leader who has had to step up in 2020 and was interviewed by Rubenstein last year is NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “Who would not be upset when people are getting shot in the back or are killed for no reason that seems apparent to anybody?” Rubenstein says of the league-wide strike following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “I think the world has recognized that you can’t ignore the protests of players just because they’re athletes. Now, everybody realizes it’s probably a mistake to do what [the NFL] did in terms of not letting [Colin Kaepernick] come play again.”
One name that didn’t make the cut for Rubenstein’s new collection is Donald Trump. “I did interview President Trump before he was the president at the Economic Club of Washington, and that’s where he told me he was going to run for president,” says Rubenstein who thought the interview was too dated to be included in the book. “I was surprised. I didn’t really believe he was going to do it. And I didn’t think he could pull it off. He did.”
Unlike Trump, the Washington, D.C-based Rubenstein doesn’t imagine himself in the political arena anytime soon. “I’m still a youngster by the standards for people running for president so maybe I’m a little bit too young to run right now,” the 71-year-old investor says. (Trump is 74 years old and Biden is 77.) “But to be very serious, I think there are a lot of people who are probably younger, and probably would do a better job than I would do.” Hopeful about the near future, he says the country will have a fresh start in 2021 following a Covid-19 vaccine and the elections.
Recalling a recent conversation he had with Shark Tank judge and billionaire Mark Cuban, Rubenstein says he expects people are going to create great companies post Covid-19—those who prioritize diversity and inclusion, philanthropy, and social impact as well as profits. “If you’re ever thinking of doing something entrepreneurial,” Rubenstein says, “do it sooner rather than later.”
This article was written by Deniz Cam for Forbes.com
Uber is changing tack after acquisition talks with Grubhub fell through by switching its attention to food delivery startup Postmates, the New York Times reports.
Three sources familiar with the matter told the Times that Uber and Postmates were holding ongoing acquisition talks. One of the sources said Uber is offering to buy Postmates for roughly $2.6 billion.
Uber was reportedly in acquisition talks with food delivery startup Grubhub earlier this year, but Grubhub announced on June 11 it was instead merging with European takeaway service Just Eat. Sources told CNBC Uber walked away from the deal over concerns it would attract antitrust scrutiny.
As a much smaller player in the food delivery business, Postmates could be a safer option.
According to analytics firm Second Measure, Postmates makes up a significantly smaller chunk of the US market than Grubhub. Grubhub captured 32% of food delivery sales in 2019, while Postmates made up 10%. Uber Eats meanwhile accounted for 20% of the market.
Antitrust fears are not the only possible reason why Uber may have walked away from Grubhub, various reports emerged that the two firms struggled to agree on a price for the acquisition. Just Eat paid roughly $7.3 billion to acquire the startup.
Uber’s desire to bolster its food delivery service has reportedly been spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic, as demand for taxi services has plummeted while food delivery has skyrocketed.
Two sources told the Times Postmates has also held sale talks with Grubhub and DoorDash over the past year.
Postmates confidentially filed plans for an IPO with the SEC in February 2019, but has yet to go public. Sources told Reuters on Monday that the company is considering reviving its IPO plans due to the boom in food delivery brought on by the pandemic.
Uber and Postmates were not immediately available to comment when contacted by Business Insider.
For those seeking work amid the coronavirus pandemic, there is a bright spot: According to the annual “Future of the Workforce Report” from Upwork, opportunities abound right now for the independent professional. With the unemployment rate at 13.5% and a rapidly changing labor market, hiring managers are accelerating the use of freelancers, says the global freelance job platform.
The survey finds that 45% of hiring managers expect freezes on new staff, while 39% expect layoffs to continue in the coming months. At the same time, close to three-quarters (73%) of hiring managers are looking to maintain or expand their hiring of independent professionals, with a typical employment length of about four months. Nearly half of all hiring managers surveyed said that they are now more likely to use these freelancers as a result of Covid-19.
Upwork’s annual report surveyed 1,500 hiring managers, once in November of 2019 and again in April of 2020, after the coronavirus outbreak.
“This remote work experiment will also have long-term implications for the traditional ways of hiring,” Upwork’s chief economist Adam Ozimek told CNBC in an email. “As companies embrace more remote work, they will also see that this opens up opportunities for how they think about hiring, recruiting and their workforce as a whole. They will no longer be confined to just their local labor markets but can find the most skilled talent, regardless of their location, that best meets their business needs.”
Flexible work: Not just a short-term solution
The most popular fields for short-term project work are writing, creative, web and software development positions, according to the Upwork survey. Hiring managers cited projects focused on motion graphic design, front-end data development, internet marketing and web analytics.
“For many the reliance on independent talent and a more flexible workforce is not just a short-term solution but a long-term strategy that will enable businesses to stay competitive and agile as they accelerate into the future,” Ozimek said.
The growth rate of full-time remote work is expected to more than double from 30% to 65% within the next five years.
With the coronavirus pandemic making in-person hiring impossible in many cases, recruiters and hiring professionals are adopting virtual platforms to conduct interviews and speak with candidates.
WATCH NOWVIDEO08:25Searching for a job? The answer might not be online
The transition to a remote working environment for most white-collar and corporate employees has several benefits, including no commute, less time spent on nonessential meetings, and limited distractions that are typically commonplace while working in the office. Working remotely has provided employees with increased flexibility, and 59% of hiring managers expect that companies who do not adapt to these more flexible conditions are at risk of becoming less competitive.
“Covid-19 has thrown many companies and workers into the deep end when it comes to trying remote work. But what most are finding is that remote work really does work. … Lack of commute, reduction of nonessential meetings, greater autonomy and, most importantly, increased productivity. … These benefits will be hard to give up,” Ozimek said.
As a leader during the Coronavirus crisis, you are certainly dealing non-stop with your current emergencies. Your time has probably been spent situating your employees in the new remote working arrangements, talking to customers, and shoring up your cash situation.
As an executive coach working with startup CEOs, I’m encouraging all of my clients to step out of reaction mode for a focused period of time to conduct planning. The problem with planning right now is that there is so much uncertainty. Here are some tools to use to navigate your business through an evolving and unpredictable future:
1. Accept reality. This may be the hardest step for you and your team. The world has changed rapidly and it’s hard for people to adjust their mindsets so quickly. I talked with one of my clients last week and he told me “we haven’t seen any changes except that some customers asked to put off their payments for 30 days.” It is tempting to use this data point as a way to convince yourself the world hasn’t changed all that much. The problem is that if you don’t get your mind wrapped around a new reality, your team will also be complacent. You will therefore not be geared up to adapt to what is certainly going to be an unpredictable future. Today In: Leadership Strategy
One way to make sure you are being clear-eyed about this crisis is to scan the environment. Get as much information as you can from external sources. The Conference Board, for example, has put out 3 scenarios which assume a base case, a bad case and a worse case. Even though these are hard to swallow, it’s important to be ruthlessly honest and fact-based when you are trying to plan for an evolving future.
2. Ask “what if” questions. Once you begin to come to terms with the macro environment, start asking “what if questions” for your business. Questions you should ask include:
What if most of our customers pay in 90 days or more rather than 30 days?
What if I or one of my key executives get sick and is out of work for two weeks or longer?
What if we can’t get the parts we need because of delays in the supply chain?
What if revenue goes to 0 for the rest of the year?
Brainstorm with your leaders and other members of your team to get a long list of questions you should ask yourselves. Encourage your team to ask questions that seem absurd. In the current crisis many unpredictable things have already happened and there are more on the way. Asking your team to be expansive in their thinking will help you capture a majority of the possible outcomes.
3. Run a sensitivity analysis. Once you list out a set of scenarios for your business, including a worst case, create a budget that takes into account these different cases. Review the model with your CFO or VP of Finance and look at your biggest cost drivers. Change them in the spreadsheet so you can see what changing one element does to your entire budget. It’s important for you as the leader to get informed at a detailed level what might happen to your business in each of these environments.
Your team also needs to understand the implications of these potential outcomes. I’ve observed that even now some employees in the startups I work with are still thinking about business from their perspective of a month ago. They are, for example, talking about continuing the process with a potential new hire who is now not critical, or advocating for the purchase of an expensive software program which is a “nice to have,” but not a “need to have.”
As a leader, the more clear you are on the details of what the most important things are and what tradeoffs your business needs to survive, the more clearly you can communicate that to your team to help them make good decisions. Also, having this information helps you adapt more quickly as circumstances unfold.
4. Think about the upside. Maybe one of the only bright spots in this situation is that in crisis, there is opportunity. You may have developed a product that can’t be used for its original purpose but now has a different use case. Or you may have developed some technology for your internal infrastructure that is suddenly very valuable. Explore all of this. One of my clients decided to convene a war room to specifically ask “What will we do with what we’ve built if we can’t continue this business?” They came up with several possibilities that they are now exploring.
It’s not pleasant to think about what might go wrong, but it’s important to anticipate various outcomes so you can start planning for an uncertain future while executing intelligently today.
This article was written by Alisa Cohn and published on Forbes.com
We’re still in the early stages of understanding how the coronavirus outbreak will affect global health care and economics for the rest of the year, but it’s more important now than ever to stick to a plan. When we look at your most recent life plan, we can see events that we’ve been anticipating for quite some time: children heading off to college, home upgrades, family vacations, elder care for your parents, and, of course, your own retirement.
Here’s why guiding you and your family through these life transitions is still the central focus of our planning, even during a significant bout of market volatility.
The big picture is always brighter.
Nobody could have predicted that a virus outbreak would disrupt global business right in the middle of a contentious presidential election cycle. But market history did tell us that the record-breaking bull market of 2009-2019 wasn’t going to last forever. What goes up eventually comes down.
The further you pull back when you’re looking at market returns, the smaller today’s volatility looks, especially in comparison to big life transitions plotted on a 30 or 40-year $Lifeline. Continuing to work towards those events we can see coming is a much more effective strategy than trying to predict the next natural disaster, the next market downturn, or the next president.
You have options.
While major market volatility is never about just one thing, the coronavirus is making it hard for companies around the world to buy raw materials from China and sell to Chinese customers. Stocks in the energy, travel, technology, and consumer goods sectors have been hit especially hard.
Luckily, your portfolio is not overly invested in any one company or any one sector. Spreading out your assets across a wide variety of investments – including more stable bonds and cash savings – provides some options during volatility. Diversification gives us the means to scout for rebalancing opportunities when prices are low. It also provides reserves that we can tap if you need a little extra help weathering market fluctuations.
What’s going to guide the decisions we make during this market correction, and the next one? How are we going to decide which levers, if any, to pull, and which to leave alone?
STICK TO THE PLAN.
We can’t plan for the next significant market shakeup. What we can do is use the tools at our disposal to keep you and your family on track to navigate your $Lifeline transitions and achieve your financial goals, no matter what’s going on outside of your home.
That’s why there’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer when folks wonder what they should do during a moment like this. The millennial who just started working and investing is at a very different point on his financial journey than the CEO eyeing retirement in the next five years. The couple planning to start their own business has different financial needs than the couple with three smart children all angling for Ivy League schools. And the retiree planning to golf her way across the country probably doesn’t have the same concerns as the retiree whose husband is experiencing ongoing health problems.
These scenarios all require their own unique, personalized plans. Some folks will make the most progress towards their goals by sticking to their current saving and investing strategies, even as the markets are unsettled. Others might need to increase allocations to their cash reserves. And still others might look for “buy low” opportunities that will pay off in the long run. In each case, the client’s $Lifeline is our guide, not today’s headlines.
We understand that volatility can be worrying, especially if you’re nearing retirement or newly retired. If you’d like to review your most recent plan and hear a little more about our current market perspective, make an appointment to visit our offices. Whether news is good, bad, or somewhere in between, you can rely on our Life-Centered Planning process to keep your best interests first and your life goals in perspective.
When the clarion call of transformation is heard in a business, how does talent at different levels of the organization respond? What is top of mind for CEOs, and how does that mirror or differ from how senior vice presidents, department directors and front-line managers think and act?
What’s certain is that clarion call to reimagine and reengineer the business is getting louder. Only 8% of CEOs believe their business model will remain economically viable if the current pace of digitization of their industry continues, according to McKinsey.
This imperative to anticipate market changes, deploy new technologies, and embrace shifting customer and workplace demographics will drive companies worldwide to invest $7.4 trillion on digital transformation over the next three years, IDC forecasts. And the problem, as McKinsey also often reminds us, is that 70% of efforts to implement complex, transformational change will fail. That’s more than $5 trillion down the drain over the next three years if IDC’s estimate is right.
What the 30% get right is the human dynamics of transformation. Human dynamics matter: They are the connective tissue between strategy, outputs and outcomes. Ultimately, they reflect what I call the last-mile challenge of translating a bold idea in a boardroom into practical actions by the front-line teams tasked with the work that will realize extraordinary goals.
Through a series of articles, I’m going to explore how transformation plays out through the layers of a business — by role — and hopefully encourage a little more empathy up, down and across the org chart.
The CEO’s perspective
Let’s start at the top of the org chart with three questions about transformation that should be top of mind for CEOs.
1. How do I get our strategy to the last mile?
You’ll expend much of your energy in a constant conversation at speed and scale with the whole business about why change is necessary, what impact it will have and what teams must do differently. If I had the opportunity to spend 30 minutes with each of the 1,021 people that work at Workfront, I could explain our strategy and key activities and show how their work fits into that picture.
But that’s impractical and inefficient. I need technology to scale-up that iterative conversation, and I need talented front-line managers to ensure tasks reflect strategic priorities. Essentially, you need to increase the cycle time of “formulation communication” — the discourse between you and front-line talent as they try to understand what you’re asking so they can translate goals into actions for their teams.
And you will have to change the medium in which you communicate. I spent four years writing emails and doing town halls about our defining objectives before being encouraged to try videos. I did a series of six videos and the feedback was, “Oh, I didn’t know we had four goals.”
There’s a generation of goal-setting software and collaboration tools like Slack and Teams to harness and match the way people consume information so you can increase the quality and velocity of how your strategy translates to execution.
2. How can I tell if the right work is happening?
In 1975, Steven Kerr of Ohio State University wrote about the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B. Yet 45 years later, businesses are still trying to monitor the work through the lens of performance and pay systems. Do you think you’re going to get to the truth if you require people to communicate the status of work through the systems and conversations that have traditionally been reserved for lizard brain pay-related discussions? You won’t. And it’s not their fault — it’s yours for putting the conversation on the wrong railroad track.
What you really need to establish is whether the work going on day to day is connected to the strategy. You need to extract discussion of individual pay and performance from the fundamental question of whether the right work is happening to deliver your strategy. You need a work performance management system and a people performance management system.
3. Are there enough resources to deliver the strategy?
When your manufacturing capacity is humans, how do you know you’ve got the resources to execute your strategy? How hard do you push the organization?
Unfortunately, CEOs have the potential to run over people in discussions about resourcing. When they need to be told the truth about what’s required to get the job done, sometimes people stay silent (because they don’t feel they can talk back to the boss). What’s really required (and it’s something you need to encourage) is candid dialogue about productivity, resourcing, strategic requirements and the trade-offs that will play out in the decisions you make.
People can do more with better tools and clarity of purpose. But expecting productivity, outputs and outcomes to improve when your team is already running flat out is wishful thinking. And here you’ll see the interdependency of the three top-of-mind questions. If everyone in the discussion understands the strategy and how it connects to the day-to-day work that’s already getting done, then that candid conversation about resourcing is built on a foundation of certainty and clarity. If there’s low-value work that’s crowding out time for strategically important tasks in people’s schedules, that’s the place to start looking for capacity.
Clarity of thought, word and deed sounds like a simple combination for a CEO to get to green on transformation. But you will only succeed with collaborative communications technologies that cut across the complex network of interdependencies that make up the modern enterprise and allow conversations and decisions to flow at speed and scale.
Now, you’d imagine that an SVP would be among the first to align with a CEO’s thinking. But what’s the reality? What’s actually top of mind for SVPs when it comes to managing strategic change? That’s the dynamic of transformation I’ll explore in my next article.
This article was written by Alex Shootman for Forbes.com
Kobe Bryant is one of the best basketball players on the planet. If you were to put a Mount Rushmore of ballers out there, the Los Angeles Lakers’ legend’s face may just be on it, given the fact he won five NBA titles and racked up 33,643 career points — which is good enough for third on the league’s all-time scoring list.
What’s even more impressive is what Bryant has done since retiring from basketball in 2016. In addition to the sports accolades, Kobe’s won an Academy Award for his animated short film “Dear Basketball,” and continues to inspire people with his book, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. It’s really incredible to see a superstar athlete transition from hoops success to business success so seamlessly.
But, like most successful people out there, Kobe Bryant hasn’t accomplished all that he has by sheer talent alone. Sure, that’s helped, but really separates the basketball icon from other people is his work ethic — which is legendary.
As Bryant turns 41 years old, we look at 41 stories that prove just how insane his passion and desire to be the best really is. So let these serve as motivation for you to roll up your sleeves, push yourself and achieve everything you want to.
Kobe Bryant’s 40-Mile Bike Ride
Bryant told his longtime trainer, Tim Grover, that he wanted to add in bike training to his summer conditioning. Grover researched a trail in Las Vegas, rented three bikes — one for Bryant, one for himself and one for Bryant’s security guard — and on the night before the first day of practice, they each put on headlamps and headed out to the trail and rode.
“We finished up around 2 a.m.” Grover said. “And we were back in the gym working out by 7:30 in the morning.”
Kobe Used To Challenge High School Teammates To One-On-One Games To 100
Talk about exhausting, right? Kobe Bryant didn’t need a quick game to 10, but, instead, used to play a benchwarmer on his high school team in one-one-one in games to 100. As the legend goes, even in Bryant’s worst game, he still won 100-12.
Shaquille O’Neal Says Bryant Used To Practice Without A Basketball To Get In Shape
Shaq wrote in his book: “You’d walk in there and he’d be cutting and grunting and motioning like he was dribbling and shooting — except there was no ball. I thought it was weird, but I’m pretty sure it helped him.”
Kobe Bryant’s Game Day Pushups Were More Intense Than An Earthquake
From ESPN’s Rick Reilly: “Among a dozen other drills, Bryant does suicide push-ups. At the top of the pushup, he launches himself off the mat so hard that both his feet come off the ground and his hands slap his pecs. He does three sets of seven of these. This makes me turn away and whimper softly.”
Bryant’s Always Studied Himself And Teammates (Even During Halftime Of Games)
According to ESPN’s Jackie McMullen in 2010: “He often corrals teammates, fires up the laptop, and shows them precisely how they can carve out easier shots for themselves.”
Kobe Bryant’s Work Ethic Even Impressed Kevin Durant
“We had the day off, but they said we could get some shots up if we wanted, so I decided to head over to the gym with [Oklahoma City teammate] Jeff Green. “Kobe [Bryant] was the only guy on the bus to the gym, and that spoke volumes to me — he’s the best player in the game, yet he’s always willing to come work on his game, so that kind of motivated me and Jeff,” Durant said. “He went by himself, he got a lot of shots up, and by the time he was done you could see he had gotten better over that hour. Like I said, it was a big inspiration to me and Jeff.”
When Kobe Bryant Nearly Led His Team From An Absurd Comeback, Per Tyson Chandler
“The thing that makes him so unstoppable is that he never stops coming. This year we were up in New Orleans by like 12 in the 4th quarter with 5-6 minutes left, and we pretty much had the game in control. And (Kobe) was there on the free throw line and he was like ‘You know I ain’t going to let us lose right?’, and I looked back at him and I was like ‘What!? Man I ain’t letting my team lose!’. And he was like ‘Alright but I just know I ain’t going to let my team lose.’ And I went back at him ‘Well I ain’t going to let my team lose!’
“Right after that, man… he ran off like 15 straight points on us. And I was looking at the scoreboard going ‘Come on, let the time run down’, and I’m like he can’t beat us single-handedly especially after I was just sitting there talking crap back and forth to him.
“We ended up winning the game, but he almost beat us! He almost beat us by himself. But his drive, looking into his eyes, some guys can say ‘Yeah we gonna win the game’.
When Bryant Changed The Work Ethic Of His Team USA Teammates
After training for three weeks together before heading to Beijing, former U.S. Olympic teammate Carlos Boozer noticed the entire roster had adopted Bryant’s routine.
“We all clung to it,” said Boozer, who later played with Bryant as a member of the Lakers in 2014-15 and recently agreed to a deal to play in China. “It soon became our workout, not just his workout.”
When Hall Of Fame Center Hakeem Olajuwon Helped Bryant Perfect His Post Moves
Just a week before training camp began in September 2009, the Olajuwon gave Bryant a two-hour step-by-step lesson on everything from head fakes and ball fakes to spin moves and jab steps.
“It was an honor for me to have the opportunity to work with him, and I want to make him proud of what I’ve learned,” Bryant said. “I have wanted to work with him in the past, but the timing was right this year. I got a chance to work with the greatest post player ever. I’ve always been a student of the game, and he was very patient with me.”
Michael Jordan Compared Kobe Bryant’s Work Ethic To His Own
From Roland Lazenby, author of “Michael Jordan: The Life”, per L.A. Times: “He said Kobe had done that work to deserve the comparison. He says Kobe’s the only one to have done the work.”
During His Rookie Year, Bryant Was Found Getting Shots In… In A Dark Gym
Per Business Insider: “I heard the ball bouncing. No lights were on. Practice was at about 11, it was probably about 9, 9:30. And I go out to the court and I look, and there’s Kobe Bryant. He’s out there shooting in the dark. And I stood there for probably about ten seconds, and I said, ‘This kid is gonna be great.’”
Even With A Cast On His Hand, Bryant Was Still Getting In Work
According to former teammate John Celestand: Celestand was excited, because he thought with Kobe injured, he could beat him to the gym in the morning, particularly because Bryant lived over 30 minutes away from the practice facility.
“Kobe was already in a full sweat with a cast on his right arm and dribbling and shooting with his left.”
Bryant Shot Left-Handed During A Game After Injuring His Right Shoulder
He actually made one of the shots, too, after insisting he return to the game.
Dwyane Wade And Chris Bosh Were Sleeping As Kobe Bryant Was Working Out
Per ESPN: “We’re in Las Vegas and we all come down for team breakfast at the start of the whole training camp,” Bosh said. “And Kobe comes in with ice on his knees and with his trainers and stuff. He’s got sweat drenched through his workout gear. And I’m like, ‘It’s 8 o’clock in the morning, man. Where in the hell is he coming from?’”
Wade added: “Everybody else just woke up… We’re all yawning, and he’s already three hours and a full workout into his day.”
Bryant Was Obsessed With Perfection
According to a piece from Ball is Life, a Team USA trainer said that Kobe Bryant once held a workout from 4:15 a.m. to 11 a.m., refusing to leave the gym until he made 800 shots.
Bryant Would Use Teammates As Guinea Pigs After Practice
Per Sports Illustrated: In 2008, Sports Illustrated reported that Kobe will keep random players after practice so that he can try out new moves on them
Scouts Praised Kobe Bryant For Doing More Than Other NBA Superstars
Per Sports Illustrated: An NBA scout said in 2008, “Allen Iverson loves to play when the lights come on. Kobe loves doing the s— before the lights come on.”
O.J. Mayo Once Confused 3 A.M. For 3 P.M. When Training With Kobe Bryant
Per CBS Sports: In 2007, O.J. Mayo was the top recruit at Bryant’s Kobe Basketball Academy. Mayo asked Kobe to work out with him and Bryant graciously accepted. Kobe said he’d pick him up at three. After Bryant failed to show up, Mayo asked Kobe what happened. “Three in the morning,” Kobe replied. “Not three in the afternoon.”
Bryant Stuck To A Strict Diet To Maintain His Advantage And Physique
He eliminated sugar and pizza and only eats lean meat.
He told ESPN: “There aren’t really any supplements that I’m taking from that perspective. What I’ve done really is just train really hard and watch my diet. I think that’s the thing that catches guys most. They don’t do self assessing.”
He Wasn’t Going To Cut Corners, Even When It Came To Telling His Own Story
Per Business Insider, Kobe Bryant once trashed a documentary about himself and started from scratch after being unsatisfied with how the original one turned out.
Kobe Bryant Will Cold-Call Entrepreneurs And Successful Business People To Get Advice
Per Bloomberg: “I’ll just cold call people and pick their brain about stuff. Some of the questions that I’ll ask will seem really, really simple and stupid, quite honestly, for them. But if I don’t know, I don’t know. You have to ask. I’ll just do that. I’ll just ask questions and I want to know more about how they build their businesses and how they run their companies and how they see the world.”
Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca Said Bryant Studied Hard AF About Investing
Per Bill Simmons’ Podcast: “For the next few months my phone never stops buzzing in the middle of the night. It’s Kobe, reading this article, checking out this tweet, following this guy, diving into this Ted Talk, diving into the Y Combinator Demo Day stuff. And I’m getting these texts, literally two or three in the morning, and my wife is like, ‘Are you having an affair with Kobe Bryant? What is happening here?’”
Kobe Bryant Goes Above And Beyond Showcasing His Passion In Everything He Does
Per ESPN: “We are obsessive,” Bryant said. “We wouldn’t want to be doing anything other than what we are doing. That’s where obsession comes in — when you care about something 24 hours a day.
When Bryant Taught Jay Williams What It Really Meant To Put In Work
During a regular season game against the Championship Lakers, Jay took the court for practice four hours before the game against Lakers, but he was shocked to see Kobe practicing already. Williams practiced for an hour and after he was done practicing, he sat down, but he still heard the ball bouncing.
Jay was shocked, because Kobe had been in a dead sweat when he got there for practice, and he was still going after Jay got done. He also added that Kobe was not practicing lazy or nonchalant moves, but full-on game moves.
Kobe scored 40 points that night and torched Jay and the Bulls. Williams therefore decided to go ask Bryant why he was in the gym for so long. When Jay finally asked him, the Black Mamba replied, “Because I saw you come in and I wanted you to know that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, I am willing to work harder than you. You inspire me to be better.”
Jay also revealed that it was the first time that he saw this level of competitiveness and he told himself, “I need to start doing more.”
Shaquille O’Neal Describes Bryant As A ‘Scientific Dawg’
Per L.A. Times: “Kobe is a scientific dawg,” O’Neal wrote. “He works out every day, practices every day. Most of the other stars are just dawgs, not scientific dawgs. Kobe will always have the edge because of his range and killer instinct. LeBron has the killer instinct, but he can’t shoot like Kobe can.”
Jamal Crawford Heard Kobe Bryant Once Practiced Just One Shot For An Hour Straight
Per The Players’ Tribune: “I heard one time in a workout that he practiced a shot for an hour. The same shot. For one hour. And it wasn’t like a three-pointer, it was a little shot in the mid-range area. Do you know how tedious that is? Do you know how locked in you have to be to do one shot for an hour? To trick your mind that way? That’s unbelievable.”
Bryant’s Former Teammate, Tony Gaffney, Detailed Kobe’s Routine
Per Basketball Insiders: If the Lakers had a 10:30 a.m. practice, Bryant would be in the gym at 6:00, take his daughters Natalia and Gianna to school at 8:00, then come back around 9:00 to shoot some more.
“No one would have any idea that he’s been in the gym working for three-to-four hours,” Gaffney said
Kobe Bryant Would Count The 400 Shots He Put Up During Practice
Per Sports Illustrated: Later, as he toweled down and sat for an interview, he was asked if he had a certain shooting routine.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I go from spot to spot. Today I quit when I made 400 shots.”
How do you know?
“What do you mean, How do I know? I know because I counted them.”
Former Team USA Teammate Carlos Boozer Described Bryant’s Unmatched Dedication
“You know what it was for me? And me and him are good friends, but I hadn’t really trained with him — is how hard he works. We saw his dedication to the game. He would get in the gym, lift weights, he would go over to the gym, get shots up before practice, go through the whole practice, and that was his routine every day. He’s not great by accident is my point. He puts the work in. And I think what I learned about Kobe is he’s so hungry to be good, he puts the work in. I just think his hunger and his determination is what I was most impressed with.”
Syracuse And Former Team USA Coach Jim Boeheim Described Bryant As The ‘Hardest-Working Player’ He’s Ever Been Around
“Kobe, from day one, is just the hardest-working player I’ve ever been around. He just does an unbelievable job. He came in, he worked out before practice and practiced harder than anybody and then worked out afterwards and continued the whole trip. The first trip we are qualifying and then the Olympics themselves. He’s just an unbelievable competitor and in practice goes 100 percent every day in practice and that brings everybody else up to that same level. He was a huge part of us being ready in the Olympics to be able to win.”
Former NBA All-Star Gary Payton Recounts Kobe Bryant’s High Expectations For Himself
Per Phil Star: “Kobe was so young and so immature in some ways, but I can tell you this: everything Kobe is doing now, he told me all the way back then he was going to do it. We were sitting on the bus once and he told me, ‘I’m going to be the number one scorer for the Lakers, I’m going to win five or six championships, and I’m going to be the best player in the game.’
“I was like, ‘Okay, whatever.’ Then he looked me right in the eye and said, ‘I’m going to be the Will Smith of the NBA.’”
Former Teammate Laron Profit Couldn’t Believe Bryant’s Determination In A 3-On-3 Game
Per StationCaster: “We were playing a pick-up game before the season started, we were playing 3-on-3, and it was game point.
“Kobe had the ball and it came off, Kwame knocked the ball away from him. Again [this was] a pick-up game, September, nothing on the line. And the ball rolled to half court.
“Kobe then ran to half-court, dived under Kwame’s legs with the ball for about 10 feet, picked the ball up, came back down, made some incredible move, then hit the game-winning shot to end the pick-up game.
“I walked off the court, and I called my mom, and I said, “I think I’ve just seen the second best player ever [behind Jordan].”
How Kobe Bryant Is ‘An Alien’ Because Of The Things He Does
Per Complex: Stu Lantz said, “I tease him all the time, about not being from this planet. I call him a semi-alien. Because some of the things he does, the way he prepares, the way he can play through pain. It’s not usual. He hurt his shoulder in Minnesota and they told him he was going to be out like 6 weeks. I think he was out like a week. That’s not human.”
Bryant’s Unwillingness To Ever Give Up… Even If It’s A Ping-Pong Game
Per Complex: Mike Trudell said, “Inside this room there’s a Ping-Pong table and some of us are playing, and I grew up with a Ping-Pong table, so I’m pretty good.
“At some point, Kobe makes a comment about one of the players I had just beaten. So I said, ‘Kobe if you want to, I’m happy to give some to you next.’ So, we play the first game and you can tell he can play, but he’s not a super experienced Ping-Pong player, so I sense a couple weaknesses and beat him rather handedly the first game. He is talking a bit of shit, mostly just calling me a MF-er.
“But, the reason I’m telling this story is not as a humble brag but because during the entire game, he was literally watching every point and learning as the game is going on. So, we get done with the game, and he wants to go again. Now, I beat him again the second time, but he got much closer.
“Within 5 minutes, he was taking the Ping-Pong game so seriously, and I thought, this is why he’s so great at basketball. I’ve never competed against anybody in anything, and I played a D1 sport, that felt as intense as that Ping-Pong game.”
The Time Bryant Went From Drinking Beer To Working Out Within A Few Hours… And Winning A Championship Later That Day
Per Complex: Arash Markazi said, “2009 NBA Finals in Orlando, going into the clinching game, Game 5. I was covering for Sports Illustrated at the time and they put me up at the team hotel. I had been out with some other reporters, and I came back to the hotel and saw Kobe Bryant in the hotel lobby bar at 2 a.m., sipping on a Corona, talking to his friends, enjoying himself.
“I went back up to my hotel room, but couldn’t really sleep that night, so I took a walk around the hotel around 4 or 5 in the morning, and I see Kobe leaving the hotel gym in a full sweat, and the sun wasn’t even out yet. I had heard all these stories about Kobe’s insane training, but you never know if those are real or hyperbole. Then I had that experience. They clinched the next day.”
Kobe Bryant Taught Former Teammate Luke Walton About Showing Up Hungover On His Watch
Per Silver Screen And Roll: Walton said, “I probably had too much to drink the night before,” Walton recalled. “So I came in, I was a rookie, I felt good, and they could smell some alcohol on me, and Kobe informed the rest of the team that nobody was allowed to help me on defense, and that I had to guard him the entire practice.
“And I was laughing at first, like ‘oh, this is funny,’ Walton continued. “But in Kobe’s mind, in his eyes, he was like ‘no, I see and smell weakness, I’m going to destroy you today.’ He taught me a lesson (laughing), he taught me a lesson. He probably scored 70-something in practice that day, and I’m begging for help, but none of my teammates would help. His killer instinct, and his work ethic will stick with me forever.”
Hearing Kobe’s Own Words On Greatness Shows A Lot About Him
“If you really want to be great at something, you have to truly care about it,” writes Bryant. “If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it. A lot of people say they want to be great but are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness.”
Bryant Followed A ‘666’ Workout Plan
The numbers represent Kobe Bryant’s wild daily workout plan, which consisted of doing six hours a day, six days a week for six months in the offseason. The six hours of training consists of two hours of running, two hours of basketball and two hours of weightlifting.
Bryant Even Demanded His Nike Shoes Gave Him A Small Advantage
Per Sports Illustrated: He had Nike shave a few millimeters off the bottom of his shoes in 2008 to get “a hundredth of a second better reaction time.”
Even In High School, Bryant Was Putting In Work That Showed His Greatness
According to a Sports Illustrated piece, Kobe Bryant used to practice at five in the morning while in high school, ending his workout at 7 a.m. because school started shortly after.
Kobe Bryant Sums Up His Greatness With How He Wants To Be Remembered
Per Yahoo!: “To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could.”
Will Cadillac’s new brand positioning be successful? Will this new positioning help in redefining Cadillac as a great, luxury brand again?
First, luxury is not the same as most expensive. Luxury has been described as one of those things where you know it when you experience it, however it does have specific attributes and benefits. Luxury has magnificence, grandeur, lavishness, splendor and sheer elegance. And yet, according to Coco Chanel, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” Luxury is experiential but it is product-oriented. Luxury is a description of the product or service. A luxury apartment, a luxury vacation, a luxury hotel, a luxury car must first be of the highest perceived quality.
Luxury and prestige is not the same thing. Luxury describes the product or service. Prestige describes the brand character (values and personality) of the product or service. Prestige confers personal status. Prestige is all about standing, stature, recognition, esteem, prominence, self-importance, fame, honor and renown. Prestigious brands allow a user to associate with brands that shout, “Look at me! I am someone now.” Prestige is The Age of Me on steroids.
Now, let’s look at the concept of American Luxury. What brands come to mind? Are these brands considered to be prestigious? It is a list dominated by fashion and beauty. Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Tiffany, Harry Winston, Gulfstream, Hatteras Yachts, Wolf stoves, and in their heydays, The Waldorf Astoria and The Plaza. Cadillac was once considered a standard of quality and prestige. Cadillac was not only a luxurious product; it was a prestigious brand. Cadillac has lost this stature.
Product and service quality come first. A brand cannot be a luxury brand if it is not superior quality. Mercedes, BMW and Lexus built their luxury brands on quality: Mercedes – German engineering with traditional, classic design; BMW – singular driver focus, performance, control and technology; Lexus – perfectly constructed, standing the test of time, well built, perfectly luxurious arrangements, reliable. Infiniti was designed to be simplistic beauty and grace with dramatic, provocative
In the 2019 J.D Power Initial Quality Survey (IQS), Cadillac is woefully insufficient. The initial quality survey records just the first 90 days. In the IQS, the industry average is 136 problems per 100 vehicles (PPV). Cadillac is below the industry average at 100 PPV.
A look at the 2019 J.D Power Vehicle Dependability Survey (VDS) shows that Cadillac continues to fare poorly on quality over time. As a reminder, the VDS measures the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PPV) during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old model-year vehicles. The industry average is 136 problems per 100 vehicles. The leaders are Lexus (106), Porsche and Toyota (108 each) with the fewest problems per 100 vehicles. Cadillac is significantly below average. Cadillac comes in at 166 PPV!
The initial quality survey registers quality among new car owners and lessees after 90 days of ownership. The dependability survey tells you if the vehicle has quality over time; the pattern is consistent. Cadillac has quality problems at first and this experience is persistent over the first three years. If Cadillac is below average on product quality, it cannot claim to be a luxury. Advertising will not make the product a luxury product.
This brings us to the new Cadillac positioning. According to an article on the online news site, The Drum (www.thedrum.com), Cadillac’s new CMO is positioning Cadillac as a prestigious brand, Saying it is prestigious does not make it true. To be a successful prestigious brand, the product must first be a luxurious quality brand.
Instead of talking about product quality, the new strategy is to talk about the owner. Cadillac is now positioned for people who are proud of their Cadillac ownership, people who create their own success and whose self-perception is achievement that now allow them to own a Cadillac. The brand calls it “earnership.” How proud will the owner be when the Cadillac they purchased is of below average quality? Will this be prestigious? The owners who “earned” their status will be horribly disappointed.
Instead of focusing on claiming prestige for a high-priced, poor quality product… fix product quality first. Be best in class.
By skipping over quality and going directly to the individual’s desire for prestige, Cadillac runs the risk of disappointing owners. Instead of “earnership,” the potential for embarrassment exists. The new Cadillac positioning is a cover-up for the fact that the brand is not competitive in terms of quality. Trying to sell a high-priced, low quality vehicle by focusing on the potential owner will lead to customer disappointment. Claiming a feeling of prestige built on a low quality product is perilous marketing.