The Entrepreneur LIFE MODEL

Business Life Model  

If “success at all costs” still sounds like a good idea then you haven’t really become successful.

Are you feeling out of balance? Wondering how to chase those big goals of yours without harming your success as a parent, spouse, friend, or merely as a person? It’s not at all that uncommon to feel pulled in a million directions. In fact, for many of the top 1% entrepreneurs we serve, finding balance is an ongoing challenge that causes a lot of pain, health issues, marital discord, and an empty feeling that the success they have isn’t all that fulfilling after all.

We are told about delegation. We are told about technology leverage. We are told about time management. Most damaging: We are told that growth alone will somehow solve our balance problems and that hitting bigger numbers will fix everything.

But those things aren’t solving the problem for successful people. So, where’s the snag?

Here’s the deal: You built a Business Model right? Gross Revenues come in on top, then you deduct Cost of Goods and Overhead and whatever is left over is what we call Profit. Works well with a business. There is unlimited opportunity with the top number and if you are shrewd about the way you run your organization, the number that’s left on the bottom – the Profit margin - can be healthy.

When it comes to your Time, Focus, and Energy however, there simply isn’t an unlimited amount. In fact, these items are quite finite but we work the model the same way – Time, Focus and Energy are poured into the top of the funnel of the business and whatever is left over is what the kids, spouse, friends, and individual themselves has to work with. And for too many entrepreneurs they discover those margins are shrinking with their success, not growing.

The more successful the business owner becomes the more the business demands and the less TIME, FOCUS, and ENERGY they have “left over” for anything else.

Here’s the solution and it’s radical, it’s uncommon, and it’s definitely not something you’ll hear in the circles where “success at all costs” still sounds like a good idea: Start backwards.

Start with a LIFE MODEL first and create a rules-based system for planning your time, defining your lifestyle, and considering the options to manage and continue to grow.

Here are a few of the unusual and refreshing ideas that some of our clients have embraced because of this thinking:

  • Hiring a CEO and delegating all the “management” to someone else
  • Taking tons of days off the calendar right in the beginning of the year
  • Bringing in a junior and beginning to pass the baton
  • Finding a partner and carving up the responsibilities
  • Taking a pay cut. WHAT? Yes seriously.
  • NOT growing aggressively but instead taking a slower approach

I can’t know what’s best for you and your lifestyle. It’s totally your choice and your opportunity to decide. But if what you’re doing isn’t getting you (or the people you care about) what you need, consider questioning the strategy altogether - not just your tactics. Stop working the problem with the business getting fed first and instead, start with a vision for your life and work the business around it.


Arrival by Abduction

entrepreneur The path to prosperity evolves through sacrifice and often consists of long hours, sleep deprivation, and a justification for devaluing our personal priorities. We do “all of the right things”. We put our head down and fight. We innovate, and we work harder and faster.

When we arrive at the destination (the promotion, pay increase, revenue goal), we often find that we are exhausted, defeated and lacking the satisfaction we’d hoped for.

Unfortunately our assumption about success is defined in monetary value and job titles that society has determined.

We never looked up and asked, “What the hell am I working so hard for?” Your dedication continues to remain irrelevant.

Relevance Begins With Vision:

Vision creates power, builds anticipation, influences followers, and cultivates extraordinary results. Vision is the foundation of YOUR destination.

History’s Leaders created unbelievable outcomes by defining their destination. Their clarity of vision formed the energy needed to support the sacrifice and drive the result. We are familiar with the journey of those that were the greatest at defining their vision:

Martin Luther King – “I have a dream”

John F Kennedy – “We will put a man on the moon”

Walt Disney – “If you can dream it, you can do it”

Begin today; create your destination of arrival. Define what you are working towards before accepting and allowing the next opportunity to exert you towards the wrong outcome.

How do YOU know when you have arrived?

  • Define the specific quality of life you are seeking and know why you want it.
  • Imagine only the things you want to happen and expect it to happen.
  • Imagine how it feels to arrive in this moment.

Command your arrival! Create your moment.

  1. Write your speech for THAT day.
  2. Write YOUR perfect day.
  3. Keep a journal for gratification of YOUR path.
  4. Create YOUR vision board, acknowledge daily.

At The Wisdom Link, we work with the top 1% entrepreneurs in the US, UK and Canada. We recognize that many may have the same commodity; they have identical habits that contribute to their success. They are each different however. What differentiates them from the marketplace is what lies at the “heart” of the business. They too, like our leaders in history, began with THEIR vision.

“If you are working on something exciting, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” –Steve Jobs

Work Like an Artist - a legitimate argument for re-structuring your time

Artist So, here’s the big idea: We need to work like artists; and not classic “workers”. I know what you’re thinking, “but LoDuca you’re in "creative services." You go to the theatre and eat sushi. You like that crap. And so it’s not such a stretch to think like an artist”…but bear with me, this idea is germane to all of you reading this on one level or another. Black turtleneck optional.

For most of us over twenty years old, we were raised in a decidedly industrial era. The twentieth century was a watershed for changes in lifestyle and work-style for American workers. The sheer enormity of the movement forever changed the fabric of social and work-life for generations and left deeply ingrained beliefs about work and our relationships to it.

As it relates to the use of time, this shift left its mark for many, many years.

Fast forward to today. And so here we are in a totally different paradigm in so many regards. And for entrepreneurs it’s even more pronounced. We have so many options for how we work, where we work and when. Not to mention why! We have access to technology that makes geography irrelevant and challenges most of the rules of business from the previous century. However, we adhere to many of those old rules, especially how we use our time.

My father came over to the US on a boat from Rome when he was a kid and could barely read and write English. They were broke. He became an entrepreneur when he bought the pizza restaurant he’d managed at seventeen and opened four more before he was twenty-one. Then he built a construction firm and added a cabinet shop. And then he started a horse breeding farm. Then he started developing properties. And in the meanwhile he was a classically trained opera singer having gotten his degree in music from the Detroit Conservatory of Music. A busy guy. And so no big surprise, he was up at 4:30 am and home at 8 pm for years working a six and often seven-day work weeks. My father knew how to put in a good day’s work and he ingrained in me a solid respect and value for it. It was that old twentieth-century logic though of slogging it out, day in and day out…a treacherous deal he had made with Father Time.

Consider the logic of the following: What I do and what you do isn’t all that very different. The quality of the work and the quality of the experience we create is predicated on a lot more than just the talent of the technicians behind the scenes. We don’t, as you’ve often heard me say, “just make brochures over here” and the same applies to you. If it's a life insurance policy, CPA services, a financial plan or an airplane - if you are selling a service or a product you're smart enough by now to know you're really selling something else of greater importance. As I see it, the most valuable resources I have to bring to my clients are my creativity, my passion, my insight, instinct and accountability to the project’s overall success. Me grinding out the hours every day, one client after the other like a factory worker doesn’t support the delivery of uncommon experiences and transformational results that we pursue.

Instead of being a line-worker at Ford where consistency and endurance are more prized than bursts of innovation and creativity, I find that I absolutely must protect myself and my “artist-like” contribution to the overall equation. It sure sounds cheesy, but it’s a requisite shift in thinking in how I create the most value for my clients, my team, my family and my self. I need to hit it hard and then go to the mountain for a while. I need to rest, pull away and “veg out” to fill the tank. The taxing demands of a day-to-day grind are incongruent with the demands of a performer/creator and so should then be the practices.

So how to do it? Book time off in advance. Sleep in once in a while. Tune out from the wall of media we have access to all the time. Go on a news and cell phone blackout for 48hrs. And get over the guilty feelings about surrendering the helm every once in a while to protect your own leadership capabilities.

The Top Ten Habits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

Top 10 Habits I can’t speak for all successful entrepreneurs and business owners, but with 12 years experience now, I’ve personally interviewed over 500 of the top ½% - 1% income earning entrepreneurs in the US, Canada and Europe. I’ve logged about 18,000 hours of interviews asking them why they win, what their outlook is, and how they built a successful business. I ask about the past and I ask about the future. I ask what’s keeping them up nights and I ask what’s got them excited. Pretty much the same conversation with the same sort of person over and over again.

And with all of that intel, I’ve derived a top ten list of the habits I see with these people. Here’s the list and a short explanation for each:

1. They decide (over and over again) to commit: It might be a surprise but these highly successful people are far from perfect. Many have hard stories in their past or shortcomings that might be considered a non-starter – no college, A.D.D., a lack of polish or social skills, a bad family background, addictions, etc. etc. But it’s the commitment level that distinguishes them from normal people. Time and again I see the person with the biggest commitment wins.

2. They claim the “Golden Hour”: The Golden Hour is that first hour of the morning when no one claims your time. And for my entrepreneurs, they totally employ that time to improve themselves. Ever wonder how these people speak other languages, read books and newspapers, have time for yoga, meditation, gratitude journals and a 5mile run? Well, they’re up at 4am.

3. They are totally accountable: Taking total ownership is a marked difference-maker with this exclusive group of entrepreneurs. They don’t blame the president, the economy, the competition or their staff. The more successful the person, I’ve found, the more they own the whole enchilada. And when they make that switch to ownership and accountability – instead of blame, they can act.

4. They create their way out of problems: When my clients get pinned down or cornered, it’s as though something in their heads gets triggered. Instead of lying down or giving in, they sort of go berserk and create the most innovative strategies of their careers. It’s almost like the genius can’t be triggered unless they are truly challenged.

5. They break the rules – change paradigms: While all are “above-board”, none of my clients like being hemmed in with rules and regulations. And to get their business where they want it to go, many of my most successful are truly innovation and mavericks. “Rules are for other people”, seems to be a shared perspective.

6. They experience and express gratitude: For my clients who read this blog, none of you will be surprised to read this, but for the normal reader it’ll be quite interesting to learn that highly successful people spend a lot of time in a state of appreciation and gratitude.

7. They focus on results – not on activity: This is factory installed for all entrepreneurs ideally because of the way they are paid…but with the most successful, it’s a like a genetic mutation. They focus on effectiveness and not simply on being busy.

8. They enlist and coordinate resources: Most successful people, entrepreneurs or not, understand the value of a team of like-minded but blended skills. Most of the best and most balanced entrepreneurs I encounter are masters at knowing what they should be doing and what they shouldn’t be doing and have the discipline to delegate away those weaknesses.

9. They focus on strengths, not weaknesses: Much is talked about this skillset but seeing it in action is amazing. Imagine your friend makes a huge blunder with their company but won’t discuss it, won’t lament, won’t do a post mortem. Instead they just want to tell you all about how they bagged another big deal. That’s what this habit actually looks like when you see it – a totally focus on what’s working.

10. They seek to understand before they are understood: Because I find my clients so inspiring, I am happy to brag about them. They are a curious bunch- always learning, always stretching and really interested in other people and the world at large. My clients are more interested in getting to know people, situations and opportunities than in being known, understood or loved.

I hope these are valuable for you. What are your best habits?

Jon LoDuca Founder The Wisdom Link

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Your Intellectual Capital: 5 Sales You Have to Make

Your Intellectual Capital You’re an entrepreneur. Your job is to take an asset from one level of productivity to the next level. And when it comes to your Intellectual Capital, you need to monetize your wisdom by making five distinct sales.

Here's a simple way to tackle it, one sale at a time:

First Sale: Inside Your Head The first person that needs to see that what your company has is unique is you. Without that sort of clarity you have commoditized what you do, sell or offer. And with commodities there’s little left but a race to the pricing bottom. Find out what your intellectual assets are and define them.

The Second Sale: At The Kitchen Table This next sale is made with your team. Rebooting the system by allowing your people to see what the company is “really” about will enable you to preserve culture, attract talent, transform behavior, and migrate the team to create a brand experience clients enjoy.

Third Sale: In The Backyard: This next sale happens with your database: leads that didn’t convert and current or past clients. Why leads that didn’t convert? Because most of us give up too quickly with them and because a deeper insight about your wisdom is sometimes what they need to answer the question, “why you?”

When it comes to clients, educating them on your wisdom (beliefs, passion, unique capabilities, systems and methods) can sometimes inspire them to buy more (share of wallet) or refer others (share of relationship).

Fourth Sale: Around The Neighborhood: This sale aspect addresses the Center of Influence relationships you have and want to cultivate. Let’s make it happen here by getting a plan, defining the value proposition of connecting and building a reciprocity model for shared exposure.

Fifth Sale: Across The World This is sale that’s made with prospects. Let’s find them, nurture them and convert them using the unmistakable genius of your wisdom. Inbound Marketing at its purest form is an opportunity for you to package and communicate your ideas, values and worldview to attract and convert your Right-Fit audience. Your I.C. is the fuel.

To take on the fight against the destructive forces of commoditization, you have to be courageous, you have to be inventive, and you have to communicate with passion, conviction and clarity. Five audiences. Five sales. Go to it.

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