I love books, especially biographies that tell us the behind the scenes reality of the grit, determination, and sweat that goes into building a business. I just finished reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and here are my big three takeaways…
- Start small but take a chance. When Phil first began the company it wasn’t called Nike. In fact, he came up with the name Blue Ribbon Sports on the spot in a meeting with a shoe manufacturer in Japan. His quick thinking is one of the many fascinating stories in the book about the growth of the company. He also did not know at the time what the company may become, he just kept hustling shoes out of the back of his car.
- Starting out is about the hustle. Phil often worked a full time job while growing the shoe business at night and on the weekends. Too many people grossly under estimate the time, energy, and effort required to get your business off the ground.
- Face the fight head on. Nothing worth having comes easy and you will face battles that you may never see coming, but if you want the dream bad enough, you will endure the fight.
- Growth happens with a team. Each of us has a cap on what we can accomplish individually, but when we build a team of passionate and dedicated members, there is nothing we can’t accomplish together
- Branding is key. We each must find a way to stand out from the competition. You will be fascinated by the story of the orange shoe box and how it came to be in the book. You can buy the book here
You can also watch the trailer for the book here…
What can we learn from Muhammad Ali when it comes to personal branding? Granted he was able to make a name for himself in the world of boxing, but he did not start at the top. Here is what you and I can learn from how he positioned himself to become a dominate leader.
- Self Label the Identity You Want to Be Known For. In an interview Muhammad was ask how he became the greatest of all time. His response was classic. He said, “I said that even before I knew I was.”
The Lesson: Either you decide on your own label or the market will place a label on you. If you opt for the latter, then you will be at the mercy of who the market says you are and they may not be the label you want.
- Put In the Work on Yourself. Nobody just arrives at the top, they work themselves there through blood, sweat, and tears. Champions are crowned in the ring, but hey are made in the gym.
The Lesson: If you are not willing to put in the work behind the scenes, then you will not be able to reap the rewards.
- Be Likeable with Humor. Your ability to connect with people will be directly tied to the success you achieve. It has been said that the universal language is humor and anytime you can make that part of your brand you will see a dramatic increase in conversations.
The Lesson: Be likeable
- Create Your Own Hook Lines. Probably one area I like most about celebrities that anyone can duplicate is their creativity to come up with one liners, quotes, or hooks. Muhammad had tons of them from “float like a butterfly to sting like a bee” and others.
The Lesson: Create Your Own Quotes
- Be Approachable. I have header on many occasions that no matter how tired he was, he always made time for his fans. Too many sales pro’s get hung up on the deal that got away versus staying focused on the clients who got you to where you are.
The Lesson: Stay focused on your current and past clients. Show them the love and they will return it with more referrals.
We call it the process. Success happens over time, not over night for everyone. No one is immune from the process and there are no lasting shortcuts to success. I have also learned that there is no end to the struggle. The struggle shows up when you lest expect it and it ask you if you have the strength and perseverance to get through. In my life in sales and as a coach here is what I have learned about the struggle.
The Struggle is REAL!
R stands for RECOGNIZE that your success will come over time, not over night. You will also encounter the struggle. During your process it is critical to understand your strengths and weaknesses. I am an avid believer in assessments to help you identify the areas of your life that you will excel in doing and then find ways to outsource the rest.
E stands for EXPECT the unexpected. In sales you are going to make mistakes. John Maxwell teaches us that we should each fail forward fast. You can expect trouble, but you can also prepare for it in advance by being pro-active and setting up systems and relationships that will see you through the challenges.
A stands for ANTICIPATING the future. This goes to being pro-active in your approach. What can you do to navigate your team and your clients through a systematic process that has already anticipated the bumps in the road?
L stands for LEADERSHIP. One challenge that I make to everyone is to no longer view yourself as your profession, but instead to view yourself as a LEADER in your profession. Leaders take on challenges. Leaders value people. Leaders know the way and go the way while shouldering the blame when things go bad and giving the creadit to their team when wins come their way. If you want to embrace the struggle, you simply can not do it without embracing in your personal and professional growth in Leadership.