Guest Author Blog: #1 Strategy for Outsmarting Your Competition by Daniel Milstein

How-to-use-content-marketing-to-outperform-the-competitionWe will all face competitors during our lifetime. If you pursue your most ambitious plans and dreams, you’ll encounter more than most, and they must never be underestimated. There’s an arrogant complacency in thinking your customer or prospective employer will simply believe you’re the best because you’ve said so. Only one company or individual can rightfully claim to be #1. Rising to the top among people with whom you are competing – whether for a customer’s business or a dream job – takes hard work, cunning and determination. Hope is not a strategy. As Vince Lombardi said, the man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.

I found out early on that you can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods or mediocre service and hope to be in business tomorrow. First, determine exactly who and what you’re up against, and then develop outside-the-box methods to infiltrate your enemy’s camp. In my fourth book, Rule #1 Don’t Be #2, I describe a covert tool I developed early on my road to success which I call “mystery shopping”. This strategic recon work involves representing yourself as a competitor’s potential customer to explore and identify what they’re doing differently and possibly more effectively. Every competitor knew something I didn’t, and through diligent research, I was able to visualize their playbook. It’s one of the ways I was able to reach the top of my game in finance and create a “sales call to conversion” rate of 78.5 percent, which is a staggering 75% higher than the average of 3%.

Don’t overlook the many ways to research competitors online. Exploring the social media platforms of both individuals and businesses is a great way to assess their messaging, values and target markets. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ll learn, and you’ll be a far more impressive candidate, presenter or business owner if you can demonstrate topic or market intelligence beyond the norm.

For example, this recon will be essential when you engage in the interviewing process. Prospective employers will dismiss you instantly if you can’t answer questions regarding the company you claim to want to join. Enthusiasm and a slick resume will only take you so far. Demonstrate expertise with regard to their mission and product or service line, as well as more obscure facts not every candidate will have been able to excavate. Don’t leave anything to chance. Choice, not circumstance, determines your success.

Some people have told me they’re not comfortable with researching competition. That sounds like either laziness or an excuse to me, and both must be avoided at all cost if you’re going to distinguish yourself among the rest. Excuses are nothing more than self- sabotage. Think of getting the handle on your competition as an investment in yourself you can’t afford not to make. If you’re not willing to step out of your comfort zone, you’re probably not really committed to winning that contract or big promotion you’re dreaming of.  Well, you can sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.

Getting out in front of your competition is only one of the many lessons I share in Rule #1 Don’t Be #2. These are the lessons that have fueled my success. I’ve used them to persevere, and I use them still today. Like anyone who has achieved substantial success despite being tested by failure and adversity, I’ve found that the difference between those who will merely dream of success and those who will successfully reach their dream lies in attitude and action.

Here’s the bottom line: success or failure is only determined by where you decide to stop, and stopping should never be an option even when you do succeed. Whenever I encounter people who tirelessly go the extra mile in their quest to reach their dream, I’m reminded that amateurs practice until they get it right, but professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.  My goal is always to be better than I was yesterday. As I always say, success is never owned. It’s rented, and the rent is due every day.

 


Daniel Milstein is the CEO and founder of the Gold Star Family of Companies, operating in over 40 offices worldwide, specializing in financial services, sports management, publishing, and film production. Under Dan’s visionary leadership, Gold Star has been named among Inc. magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America. He is a best-selling author and shares his other strategies for success in his new book Rule #1 Don’t Be #2: You Get What You Work For, Not What You Wish For.  Learn more at DanMilstein.com.

Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking

Image result for winning the brain gameEach day, a game of mind versus matter plays out on a field defined by the problems we must solve. Most are routine and don’t demand a more mindful approach. It’s when we’re faced with more difficult challenges that our thinking becomes vulnerable to brain patterns that can lead us astray. We leap to solutions that simply don’t work. We fixate on old mindsets that keep us stuck in neutral. We overthink problems and make them worse. We kill the ideas of others as well as our own. Worse, we keep doing these things, over and over again, naturally and instinctively.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In Winning the Brain Game, author and creative strategist Matthew E. May explains these and other “fatal flaws” of thinking, revealing seven observable problem-solving patterns that can block our best thinking. Calling on modern neuroscience and psychology to help explain the seven fatal flaws, May draws insights from some of the world’s most innovative thinkers. He then blends in a super-curated, field-tested set of “fixes” proven through hundreds of creative sessions to raise our thinking game to a more mindful level. Regardless of the playing field, mindful thinking is the new competitive advantage, and the seven fixes are a magic set of tools for achieving it. Winning the Brain Game will lead you to better decision-making, higher levels of creativity, clearer strategies and overall success in business, work and life.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• The seven fatal flaws of thinking and the fix for each one.
• The importance of reframing and generating the right questions.
• Concrete ideas and strategies for practicing each cure.
• How neuroscience can help solve problems.

Friday Book Review! Scrappy by Terri Sjodin

Image result for scrappy sjodin“Scrappiness” is a term that is easier to recognize in action than to define. To describe someone as scrappy is to describe a person who fights against the odds and manages to come out victorious against opponents or obstacles that are much “bigger” in some way than he or she might be. Terri Sjodin’s latest book, Scrappy, is filled with stories of such battles, as she explains to her readers exactly how and why being scrappy works.

For Sjodin, scrappiness is a combination of three elements: attitude, strategy and execution. The first required step to being scrappy is attitude: a mindset in which people recognize the bruises and pitfalls that might lie ahead, but decide to go for it anyway. For example, Sjodin tells the inspiring story of health club owner Susan Sly, who was struck by a diagnosis of multiple-sclerosis, a husband who leaves three days after the diagnosis and the loss of the health club due to unpaid taxes. Despite her illness, the single mother fought back and became one of the most successful sales producers for the Bally Fitness chain.

Successful scrappiness is about attitude, explains Sjodin, but it’s also about having the right strategy. In the second section of her book, Sjodin describes how to develop a strategy that is bold and somewhat risky without being reckless. Brian Palmer, president of National Speakers Bureau, was trying to land the business of an executive vice president at a large financial-services company who was unmoved by his approaches.

Finally, a mutual friend shared a conversation that she had with the EVP, who told her, half-seriously, “Brian Palmer doesn’t suck up enough!” Palmer decided to send a newly bought dustbuster to the prospect, explaining that he didn’t mind sucking up, but if he was not available, his dustbuster would take care of the sucking up. The move might have fallen flat but didn’t: The EVP loved the humor (and gumption), and Palmer started getting speaking gigs for his speakers.

According to Sjodin, scrappiness can range from big, bold moves to small gestures. To be scrappy is to have creative, often (but not always) humorous approaches to a problem, combined with a certain fearlessness. For example, rather than turning to online dating sites, 36-year-old serial entrepreneur Jennifer Matthey Riker decided to try a different tack: She took a part-time job (which she did not need) in the men’s department at a local Nordstrom’s. One day, she locked eyes with a man cutting through the store, and the two have now been married 13 years and have two children.

Once you “decide to go” and have developed a strategy to achieve what you want, the final step is to execute the plan, Sjodin writes. One of the important decisions is to determine when to launch. Timing can often make the difference between success and failure.

Another recommendation of Sjodin’s is to…(click here to continue reading)

The Surprising Truth About the Power of Now

Check out this new summary!

Do you ever feel stressed? Of course you do. One way we cope is to lower expectations, but we miss what may make us stronger. Dr. Max McKeown offers valuable insights into an alternative.

You can choose to nurture a Nowist mindset, and by seeking joy in the flow of life, you will discover your natural power to take action and keep moving forward. We live in the present but carry the anxieties of the past and concerns of the future with us at all times. Yet, you can only directly think, do or change anything at the point of now. Realizing this, you can learn to transform your life with every moment. #NOW helps you to embrace the fullness of everyday life.

It encourages you to move beyond surviving, or coping, to joyfully and effortlessly live in harmony with the demands of your work-life balance. Instead of passively hiding or becoming overwhelmed, you can actively leap into the best that life has to offer. Discover the power of your #NOW that enables you to take action, make decisions fast and effectively, and enjoy the moment while creating a successful and happy future.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• Why impulsiveness can be highly functional and advantageous.
• Why Nowists love uncertainty and don’t regret missed opportunities.
• Understand the deep relationship among action, movement and joy in the Nowist mindset.
• Recognize and adopt goals that allow you to think and live as a Nowist.

Strategy: From Theory to Tactics

In a recent Soundview Author Insight interview with Steve Van Remortel, we asked the consultant and best-selling author of Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream about the critical bridge between theory and tactics as it applies to strategy. Van Remortel responded with the following:

Ask the department leader. “How is our company differentiating ourselves and what is your department’s role in it?” If you get a real crisp clean response, that person and his department are tied into the strategy. If you get kind of a deer-in-the-headlights look, that tells you that the strategy discussions are being held in a room within the C-suite or that they are in the head of the owner or the business leader. One of the core principles within strategy implementation is department planning, and department planning is about getting a majority of the organization working on the business versus in the business. Most organizations probably work in the business. One or two people may spend 5% of their day or their week or their month working on the business.

What department planning does is it takes all the strategy that all the action plans that come out of the strategic planning process and puts them in the appropriate department plan for execution to work on the business. For example as marketing is updating the website, sales is updating its tools and operations is implementing lean. You have all these departments and these individual people within those departments checking things off the business action plans, and all of the sudden there’s 15 action plans that got done in the last month by working on the business. You see the organization just accelerating and taking off.

To help your organization take off to new heights, download your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary for Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream.