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.

Guest Blog: Three Things You Must Tell Yourself Today by Daniel Milstein

Milstein bookIn Rule #1 Don’t Be #2 I share the incredibly valuable lessons I’ve learned on my path to achieving great and lasting success.  Among the most critical, but one I find most people overlook, is the importance of keeping your self-talk positive.

As the sole architect of your destiny, you need to make sure you’re utilizing one of your greatest tools: your own voice. It’s that inner voice that will help you formulate a plan and drown out the external voices of critics and naysayers. Your voice holds the power to boost your confidence and help you both navigate and learn from setbacks when they occur.

Be very honest with yourself. Is your own voice joining the negative chorus of doubters? If the answer is yes, you’ll need to reprogram your thought process by telling yourself these three things today – and every day –for the rest of your life.

  1. Do it Now!

Procrastination is like quicksand. If left unchecked, it will pull you into a quagmire of crippling indecision. You’ll make excuse after excuse that will eventually foreclose on your dream. If you’re continually telling yourself it’s okay to do nothing, then nothing will be what you achieve. Instead, allow your inner voice to motivate you from morning ‘til night, and fiercely commit to your dream with a sense of urgency. Remember, the difference between “could” and “did” lies in planning and action, so become your own greatest coach and advocate for change. Don’t take no for an answer, especially from yourself.

  1. I Deserve This!

Whenever I meet someone who’s allowed their dream to derail, or who appears to be passing up opportunities for personal growth or improvement, I always ask why they don’t deserve their absolute best. If you’re among the folks who are settling for anything less than the success about which you dream, you simply must get out of your own way by escaping your dangerous comfort zone. Whatever your dream may be – whether it’s pursuing a career change you’ve always wanted, or finishing your degree, begin by reminding yourself that you deserve a brighter future, and then invest in yourself by giving your all to you. Never cut corners on what’s most important: your happiness.

  1. I Know I Can!

Fear of failure, including the inability to reclaim your forward momentum after a set-back, is one of the greatest obstacles to success, and one that can often be effectively addressed by empowering your inner voice. We all have fears, but we can’t habitually make fear-based decisions, or we’ll never reach our full potential. If we allow fear to paralyze our progress, we’ll create a blueprint for mediocrity, and miss the priceless lessons only trial and error can reveal. Make sure your self-talk is stronger than your fear, and relentlessly affirm, “Yes, I can!” I understand overcoming fear is not an overnight process, and may also require that you take advantage of additional resources at your disposal, such as individual therapy. I know that it can be extremely uncomfortable to get out there on whatever happens to be your personal “ledge”, but the feeling of freedom is incomparable, and I assure you the view will be spectacular.

As I look back at the journey I’ve traveled to achieving success, I can definitely attest to the power of my own self-talk. There have been fears and set-backs to be sure, but I resolved the first time I met the wake-up call of ground-shaking disappointment to never consider myself as having failed. I either win or I learn. There are times when the road will be steep, challenging and tiring. It is during those especially trying days that you must be able to rely upon your inner voice to drive you on. It will mean the difference between giving up and persevering. The only time you run out of chances is when you stop taking them.

Start listening to your voice today. What are you saying?  Do you believe you can succeed? It’s true that whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re going to be right.  When you do find yourself achieving success, make sure your self-talk remains positive and motivating. You don’t want to start telling yourself you’ve arrived and become complacent. 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.

Friday Book Review! Stretch by Scott Sonenshein

y648In 1985, the American beer market was dominated by three companies, Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Stroh’s. The third may elicit the response, “Oh yeah, whatever happened to them?”

What happened, according to Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein, is that Stroh’s was a “chaser.” As Sonenshein explains in a new book, Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined, a chaser is a person or company that is constantly chasing more and more resources. In the case of Stroh’s, chasing meant growing ever larger through serial acquisitions, until the company finally crumbled under its own weight.

The opposite of chasing is “stretching”: those who know how to do more with less. During the same period that Stroh’s was on its growth binge, a small company named Yuengling, which had a fraction of the resources that Stroh’s had, was using its limited resources to carefully and incrementally increase its capacity and its market reach. Eventually, the former beer giant Stroh’s would be liquidated, while Yuengling would become America’s largest domestically owned beer company.

According to Sonenshein, stretchers have a completely different mindset and different behaviors than chasers. Instead of constantly undervaluing or squandering their resources, stretchers recognize the value of what they have and act accordingly. For example, Sonenshein tells the story of a store manager stuck with a shipment of poorly made dresses that were not selling. Instead of putting them in the trash, the manager, Ethan Peters, cut off the straps and sold them as “beach cover-ups.” Click here to continue reading this review. 

FREE Webinar with Josh Bernoff – Thursday, 11/10!

Image result for writing without bullshitWriting Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean

Date: Thursday, November 10
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Josh Bernoff

Register for FREE

The average news story now gets only 36 seconds of attention. Unless you change how you write, your emails, reports, and Web copy don’t stand a chance.

In this practical and witty Soundview Live webinar, Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean, you’ll learn to front-load your writing with pithy titles, subject lines, and opening sentences. You’ll acquire the courage and skill to purge weak and meaningless jargon, wimpy passive voice, and cowardly weasel words. And you’ll get used to writing directly to the reader to make every word count.

What You’ll Learn:

  • How clear writing can boost your career.
  • The top ten tips for writing that succeeds at work.
  • About the Iron Imperative, to treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own.
  • How to plan and execute writing projects with confidence.

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)

Review: Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy

Most people don’t plan their lives, write Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, authors of Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want. Instead, people drift through the years, going where circumstances take them rather than taking control.

Living Forward offers a game plan for taking control through a tool call a “Life Plan,” which, as the authors explain, will answer three vital questions.

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Whenever you make a plan, you must begin with the destination. Only by knowing where you are going can you figure out how you can best get there. For the authors, the destination of a life is one’s legacy. Thus, the first question a Life Plan answers is

How do I want to be remembered? The best way to identify your desired legacy, according to the authors, is to write your own eulogy. This rather impertinent process forces you to think about what you would like others to say about you at your funeral.

The first step, of course, is to understand who those others will be. Writing your eulogy, the authors explain, begins with identifying all of your key relationships, either by individual name or by group (e.g., my peers in the company). You then describe how you want to be remembered by each group.

Most of us live extremely busy lives. However, the authors note, a busy life is not a sign of success if you are not busy doing the right things: the things that are most important to you. The second question answered by the life plan is about priorities:

What matters most to me? To help readers determine their priorities, the authors offer a tool based on what they call Life Accounts. The term is chosen for its connotation of bank accounts — that is, accounts that either have a growing balance, consistent balance or declining balance. Grouped in three concentric circles around the YOU at the center, the first three Life Accounts — spiritual, intellectual and physical — involve your relationships with yourself. The second concentric circle of three Life Accounts — marital, social and parental — involves your relationships with others. Finally, the outermost concentric circle of three Life Accounts — vocational (your job), avocational (your hobbies) and financial — concerns your output.

These are prototypical Life Accounts, but the authors emphasize that people may have different accounts and even a different number of accounts. Every individual must determine what is most important to them and, thus, create their own Life Accounts. Whatever the specific accounts may be, “the goal is to have a positive balance in each of your Life Accounts,” the authors write.

The authors cite two criteria that for them are the essential components of a positive balance in a Life Account…..(click here to continue reading)

 

Discover the 12 Levers of Success

Primary GreatnessFrom Stephen R. Covey — the late, legendary author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — a new set of rules for achieving a happy and fulfilling life of primary greatness. Many of us are hurting. We have chronic problems, dissatisfactions and disappointments. The idea of living a “great life” seems a distant dream.Too often, however, we have the wrong idea of what a great life is. Stephen R. Covey believed there were only two ways to live: a life of primary greatness or a life of secondary greatness. Through his classic books and seminars, he taught that the intrinsic rewards of primary greatness — integrity, responsibility and meaningful contribution — far outweigh the superficial rewards of secondary greatness — money, popularity and the self-absorbed, pleasure-ridden life that some people consider “success.”

In Primary Greatness, a posthumous work, Covey lays out the 12 levers of success that will lead to a life of primary greatness: Integrity, Contribution, Priority, Sacrifice, Service, Responsibility, Loyalty, Reciprocity, Diversity, Learning, Teaching and Renewal. For the first time, Covey defines each of these 12 qualities and how they provide the leverage to make your daily life truly “great.”

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• The key differences between primary and secondary greatness.
• Why principles ultimately govern values.
• The four human endowments that help us align ourselves to principles.
• The most important features of the 12 key principles, or levers.

Join us for our next Soundview Live webinar!

Critical Conversations: Ensuring Success without Sacrificing Sanity
Date: Wednesday, April 27th
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Cornelia Gamlem & Barbara Mitchell
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In this Soundview Live webinar, Critical Conversations: Ensuring Success without Sacrificing Sanity, Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem will offer guidance to employees, managers at all levels, and business owners communicate effectively to achieve a tension-free workplace.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Set and manage expectations
  • Identify changes in the workplace and the workforce
  • Create more options to solve conflicts
  • Recognize your personal conflict style, and why it is important
  • Effectively handle disruptive behavior

Guest Blog, Part II: Specific Secrets that Prevent Leaders from Success

Webinar: How to Win Big in Business and in LifePart II of AmyK Hutchens’ guest blog on the specific secrets that prevent leaders from achieving greater success faster.

Don’t forget to sign up for AmyK’s webinar:
How to Win Big in Business and in Life
Date: Thursday, February 4, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

 

(Continuation of Part I)

  1. Likeability Malady Leaders do not wake up and consciously think, “What can I do today to get my followers to like me?” However, they often avoid conflict by choosing harmony over discord and choosing likeability over criticism.

When leaders focus on being liked, they unconsciously attempt to please the people they’re leading, and people-pleasing can lead to a lack of clarity, integrity and truth about what they stand for, where they’re going and why. People-pleasing alienates followers and fractures the group, reaping the exact opposite of what they were trying to do – gather people together for a common cause, a common goal, a common destination. When leaders focus too much on being liked, they lose the courage to say what needs to be said or do what needs to done. This lack of courage generates missed opportunities and yields diluted results.

Focusing on leading does not require leaders to abandon kindness. Behaving in a likeable manner, showing mercy, offering forgiveness, and demonstrating self-respect conveys leadership and yields results—a bonus, ironic byproduct is that others followers often like leaders more when they’re focused on leading instead of worrying about likeability. Instead of trying to be everything to all people, leaders need to be themselves in order to maintain integrity in their words and actions. Those that follow them will do so because they believe in the authenticity of the leader and his or her ultimate mission.

  1. Comparison Condition is one of the worst forms of self-abuse. Many leaders are so busy comparing themselves to other businesses and/or other leaders, living in a world of “should haves” and “should bes,” that they lose focus on their own path to success. When leaders compare themselves to everything and everyone, they end up taking detours, trying out other peoples’ paths. They dilute their talent and ultimately lose their mojo. When leaders lose their sense of self, when they drift too far, they often burn out and lose their followers. Staying on their own path is integral to focus, productivity, performance and results. It’s hard to charge full-steam ahead when you’re always looking sideways.

 

When leaders are willing to expose the secrets they keep – even if only to themselves, and work through them – they can positively and exponentially transform their business success. Often times, leaders say they pay a high price to chart a new course. The price leaders pay is a direct reflection of the secrets they keep.

 

AmyK Hutchens is the Founder of AmyK Inc., a firm specializing in leadership, innovation and sales Think Tanks. Recently awarded International Speaker of the Year by Vistage UK (World’s leading CEO membership organization), and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Secrets Leaders Keep, AmyK is a catalyst for igniting brilliance in leaders. More than 40,000 executives in over nine countries have benefited from her keen insight and intuitive understanding of the issues leaders face. Learn even more at www.amyk.com. Follow AmyK on Twitter at @AmyKInc.

 

Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation

In Disrupt You!, Jay Samit, a digital-media expert who has launched, grown and sold startups and Fortune 500 companies alike, describes the unique method he has used to invent new markets and expand established businesses. He reveals how specific strategies that help companies flourish can be applied at an individual level to help anyone achieve success and lasting prosperity –– without needing to raise funds from outside investors. Incorporating stories and anecdotes from innovators and disruptive businesses, Samit shows…

 

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