All posts by Hanju Lee
It’s 3 am. I’ve been thinking about this workshop for over a month now and I am about 3/4 way through preparing to teach it. I know it’s a subject that WILL help the small business owner, entrepreneur and dreamer alike, and I’ve had a feeling it was going to be a big hit. And it was, because it sold out in less than a week after just one registration post on my Facebook page. Well…sold out meaning, sign ups were full.I made $0 dollars. LOL. It’s a free workshop.
What sets you apart from anyone else? What makes you unique? Who are you? What is your promise? How are you achieving it? I ask these questions to clients that we work with in developing their brand. According the Seth Godin’s blog on “Small is the new Big“, all these questions can be summed up in one simple question; “what is your BIG?” For public companies, their BIG is the growth. For example, their BIG might be 10% growth year after year to infinity. This keeps the shareholders happy, keeps the doors open, the economy pumping and everyone making a profit. Their market to the masses and their ability to create products and services are at the highest performance rate with efficiency…that’s what they do. For us, we can’t even begin to compete with that. But we CAN offer something big companies won’t do that will add even more value. Our small is our BIG.
Okay, back to “It’s 3 am.” It’s a lot of pressure trying to prepare for a group of intelligent, talented and creative people from all different backgrounds…people with new incredible business ideas, people switching to a new industry, people with current successful businesses just wanting to do it better, people starting and running non-profits from an idea that birthed from their own pain and passion. I feel the pressure from my own doubts. “What could they possibly learn from me?” “How am I going to present this information so that it’s engaging and easy to follow?” “Is this even going to help them in their own entrepreneurial journey?” “Why am I offering this for free?” “How will this help me and my business?” I’ve poured a lot of time and energy into this workshop and according to my ROI calculation, a CFO from a public company would advise me to stop.
But I don’t. Because it’s 3 am, and I feel more energized than ever. I feel that I am in my element being useful, resourceful, relevant, and intentional. I feel this information I am about to share can motivate and help others to do well. And in helping others do well and helping others reach their dream, won’t it help me to fulfill mine? Yes! It will!.
This is my BIG. It won’t make sense in a P&L report, but it’s my BIG in the relationships I make and the lightbulbs that I help turn on and the inspiration and encouragement that I offer. So, what is your BIG? What is the unique piece of your business and culture you can call your own? What value can you continue to offer in exchange for your trust and your authenticity?
It’s 3 am, and I am more awake than ever! Let’s go BIG or go home.
We finally parked and started down the muddy trail. The first few hundred yards were mostly downhill which made it difficult to stay upright as my feet were slipping and sliding every which way. I was hanging on to the exposed roots from trees for stabilization and focusing on making sure everyone was doing ok. We saw a few hikers on their way back up the hill. As I made eye contact with one of them, I asked if it was worth all this suffering. “Oh yeah,” he exclaimed, “you are almost there; it will be amazing!” Hmmm, I thought, a word to the wise, don’t hype up the experience someone is about to have; you’ll create an unreasonable expectation and it will lead to disappointment. Feeling a bit annoyed yet still hopeful, we continued.
We eventually arrived at our destination. Our final climb was across the large area of lava rocks. As we stood and looked down, we finally saw what we’d been looking for. The fierce and powerful ocean waves smashing into the rocks beneath us and slowly losing its anger, with water then gently flowing between rocks into a cove creating a large pool of crystal clear, calm perfection. They named this spot “Queen’s Bath” and it met the hype and every ounce of my expectation….I thought to myself, this is what family vacationing is all about…exploration, adventure and finally…relaxation.
We climbed down and took full advantage of this body of water with our snorkeling gear and just enjoyed the beauty as we sat back and watched everyone around us do the same. Several people were jumping into the water from a ledge about 15 feet above the natural pool where we were swimming. We couldn’t help notice this little girl on the ledge, as well, trying to muster the courage to make the jump. She was looking down at us, and we were close enough to see the fear in her eyes. Her body language also made it obvious, and she spoke the words that would continue to paralyze her current state of being… “I can’t!”
Her father stood right next to her, holding her, then letting his hands go, he said, “you can do this honey…jump!” She said “no!”even more terrified, and he would continue to encourage her. She would then stand there in silence, studying the water beneath her…one…two…three!!! …then, nothing. Just fear. She was frozen, unable to make the decision, unable to conquer the situation she got herself into. This went on for what seemed like forever. People below were starting to not pay attention anymore and went about their own business…we pretty much gave up on her too. No more words of encouragement, yelling, counting down, even simple reassurance of her safety would rid her of her fear. She had seen others do it all day but she was still paralyzed. What would it take to get rid of her fear?
My wife of much wisdom, watching this event unfold with me said, “you do know that as entertaining as this is, it’s gonna get a bit annoying once she jumps right?” Why? I asked. “Because, once she jumps, she’s going to realize it’s not that scary…then guess what she’s going to do the rest of the day? She’s going to run and climb over to the ledge, and jump again, then you know what she’s going to do after that? Run and climb to the ledge, and jump again, and again and again. My wife is so smart, because that’s EXACTLY what happened. Finally after her initial jump, for the next 1/2 hour she must have jumped into the Queen’s Bath while screaming with glee 20+ times over. Oh my.
The crazy thing is that no matter what was said, yelled, whispered and/or encouraged, the fear NEVER left her. The fear only left when she jumped. The fear left when she finally took action. When she leaped into the air, then free-falling 15 feet, then splashing into the water, then as she lifted her head out of the water…something crazy happened….everything changed. She overcame her fear. I saw it happen right before my eyes. I saw someone that conquered their own fear and took a blind leap. I saw someone, a 10-year-old, look into the eyes of her own fear, laughed and shout out to the world with glee..”Wheeeeeeeee!!!” Over and over again.
I am reminded of my own fear and my transformation as I continue to move forward in my entrepreneurial journey. I am often stopped in my own tracks, paralyzed in fear of where my next decision will take me. Then I will be reminded of what a 10-year-old taught me about fear. Fear will remain until I take action. Fear will remain until I leap into the air. Fear will remain until I free-fall into the body of water and come out refreshed, alive and fearless, laughing and shouting out to the world with glee…”Wheeeeeeeee!!!” What is your current fear? Are you ready to jump?
“Hey, it’s my birthday and I am getting a tattoo of a Suzuki Logo on my arm!” – said no one, ever!
I can’t believe it’s already been three years since my new adventures of entrepreneurship. For me, it’s about no more bosses, no more vacation request forms, no more phone calls explaining why I’ll be late coming in and no more working twice as hard just to be under-valued and unappreciated…
But freedom from the 9-5 also comes with a price. How about a 60-80 hour work week with no guaranteed overtime pay? How about living with a constant reminder that the next paycheck has to be fought for and won? How about your weekends and vacation time with your laptop fully charged looking for the nearest wifi to respond with project updates? There are pros and cons to every road you take and rewards and suffering with each path you choose. Each decision can result in self doubt and envy of the “grass being greener on the other side”.
Whether you are a 9-5’r or an entrepreneur, the most important aspect of your own health, happiness and fulfillment depends on your purpose and your “why”.
Ok, if you just read through that without any reaction or your heart pounding, you didn’t read it right. So, I’ll say it again…Your own health, happiness and fulfillment depends on your PURPOSE! I heard this next quote a long time ago when I was in high school and I’ll never forget it. “Living without a purpose is worse than not living at all.”
The purpose of any business should be to help change people, to help change them from one thing to something else. You can help change people from being unsatisfied, unfocused and unmotivated to thriving, adventurous and passionate people living out their full dream.
Great example of this is Harley Davidson. They helped satisfy the craving of the overworked and stressed out successful businessman who yearned for a safe rebellion, new adventure and the promise of the open road. So much so that consumers of Harley Davidson were even willing to get a permanent tattoo of the logo that got them there.
“If all you want is transport, buy a Suzuki, no one gets a Suzuki tattoo.” -Seth Godin
The problem is that we (me included) lose our focus and our purpose in the midst of running and operating our business. The day to day of putting out the fires, trying to satisfy every client and the constant hustle for our next project can wear you down. We must learn to step back and remind ourselves why we do what we do. What is our purpose? How are we helping change others? So, here’s me stepping back and reminding myself why I do what I do…
I help people reach their dream. We all have dreams, we just don’t know all the steps to get there. Most people get stuck and stop moving forward in their dream because they run into a technical difficulty…how do I create a brand? What about a website? How do I communicate my dream and broadcast it to the world? How do I get people to know me and my new business so I can help them? These are the questions that I can help answer and help implement so that you can continue on in reaching your dream.
So, what is your dream? What is your purpose or your “why” in that dream that you have? How will this dream help others? What steps will you take in fulfilling it? People instinctively look for meaning; they look for something to believe in and rally around. In a world where most businesses focus only on growth and sales, the opportunity to serve people on a deeper level is wide open. The results can be amazing! And yes, growth and sales often follow suit.
Whatever your dream is, I hope it leads to a permanent mark on the people that you will serve…a tattoo perhaps. LOL.
It was a perfect lazy Sunday afternoon on a gorgeous spring day. The sun decided to hide behind the clouds, keeping it a cool 74 degrees. The extra wide residential street was aligned with huge oak trees stretching as out and up towards the sky.
Before the day began, I was taking an early morning run around the neighborhood and saw rows of tents being set up with a variety of offerings…jewerly, antiques, clothing, crafts and even some food vendors setting up their stations. I saw streets being block off with barricades and the calm and relaxed smiles on people faces as they conversed with each other, slowly setting up their stations. What’s happening here today? I had to come back later to find out.
As we strolled through the street, the rest of the tents were set up and there was a small, scattered crowd just wandering as we were; quietly, calmly browsing and enjoying the day. Then we heard it…it came from afar but we could hear it clearly. “Lemonaaaaadddddeee, cooooookies….” It was a voice of a young girl, about 10 years old, riding her bicycle down the street, advertising her booth. The voice was getting a bit louder as she got closer to us. “Lemonaaaaadddddeee, coooookies….” The voice was determined, bold, authoritative, yet gentle and authentic, not at all needy. She demanded respect, and it was obvious that she had it. The vendors around her wished they had the same boldness and charm. And she knew it. She was proud and she knew that once we tasted her lemonade and cookies, we would be changed forever. We looked at each other and smiled, “Wow! That girl is something. She’s gonna be somebody!”
We eventually made it to the lemonade stand. And immediately realized that this ain’t your mama’s lemonade stand. No offense to mamas. But, oh my! It’s was the lemonade stand of all lemonade stands. Oh the details…down to the sign that hung above the stand that was painted with a child’s font with a backward “E”. Three other kids (younger) were attending the stand; one greeted us and the two others were in the back prepping the cups and ice. Once our order was placed, the fresh lemonade was delivered immediately with a smile. One child then led us to the cookie display table and while we were browsing through the cookies…she came…on her bike. She was obviously the boss. She rushed to the stand and called out the order with her same authoritative, yet gentle voice. She handed them the $5 bill and they gave her (3) $1 dollar bills in change. She folded it neatly in her hand and held the new cup of lemonade on the same hand, keeping the (3) $1 dollar bills between the cup and her little palm. I looked over at her and said, “Oh, you deliver too?” Without missing a beat she said, “Yup, I know how to ride one–handed.” And with a quick turn of her handle bars, she took off down the street, into the sunset.
I don’t know how many people she inspired that day, but I am certain it was a big number. As an entrepreneur, I am easily inspired by those who are all in. Not just because they are passionate, but also because they believe in their mission. They believe in their products, and they believe that it can change those who come to be a part. It’s given by the way they speak, think and act. You can clearly hear it in their voice…spoken with determination, boldness, authority…yet with gentleness and authenticity…it’s not at all needy.
Oh, and the lemonade? It was the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted. It changed me forever…
Well, it’s February, and if you are like me, you’ve made your New Year’s Resolutions before the year began. And if you are like 95% of people who made New Year’s Resolutions, you’ve already broken most of them by now. Ouch.
I just heard this story, and it inspired me to write. It’s about a father and his daughter running the Boston Marathon. The male my age would have to run 26.2 miles in less than 3:25 hours to qualify for the race. That’s running less than a 7:50 minute pace. That’s really fast. I currently run a 10 minute pace. That’s really slow, but don’t judge.
Heartbreak Hill is a 88 feet vertical rise from an elevation of 148 feet to 236 feet, it comes during the last phase of the race between the mile 20 and 21 mark. Conveniently, this is also a time where a runner’s muscle glycogen storage is most likely to be depleted…a phrase referred to by marathoners as “hitting the wall.” (Data stolen from Wikipedia AND personally experienced). This is where we figure out what lies deep within us. With complete physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, and knowing there are still 5-6 miles left to go, what’s going to get us there?
At Heartbreak Hill, the daughter catches her breath and asks her father, “this is so hard, why are we doing this again? Without missing a beat, the father replies with the most profound answer….wait for it…. “We are practicing not quitting.”
Perseverance is one of the most important skills you can have as an entrepreneur. And it’s just that, a skill. Some are naturally talented in this skill. Some are not. But just like anything else, we need to practice to continue developing our skills to persevere, to endure, to NOT QUIT. How? Here are some ways to overcome quitting.
- Watch someone do something impossible: I don’t know about you, but I love hearing stories about each entrepreneur and what they’ve endured to get to where they are today. Small milestones in my own life which have redirected my paths were inspired by people I’ve met and from the stories I’ve heard. I’ve even gotten to watch close friends endure through the pain and got to experience, first-hand, the triumph that came after. It’s inspiring! Seek out the stories that will inspire you. I do this everyday through videos, podcasts and books. I hunger for it; I need it to keep me going.
- It’s just around the corner: We don’t know what we don’t know. But what if we knew it was just around the corner? Sometimes our biggest deals are one phone call away or just one meeting away. I don’t want to miss it. Stay positive and practice not quitting. Because today might be that day, if not, it could be tomorrow.
- Think about the why: Without knowing the “why” we can get lost in the journey. The marathon father knew the “why”, it was to help him and his daughter grow in their skill of “not quitting.” Maybe he knew that this skill, if mastered, would be a game-changer for him and his daughter. Maybe he knew that this skill, if mastered, would affect the outcome of his business, his relationships and his own success. Isn’t that what we are all hoping for? “Why” is our motivator, our roadmap and our guide to getting us there. Know your “why”.
It’s February. It’s time to buckle-up and re-motivate ourselves to finish the race. It’s just the beginning, but let’s start the momentum today, and let’s have a strong tomorrow. Let’s look for opportunities around the corner, and let’s figure out WHY we are going there. What’s at the end of the finish line? Is it worth our pain? Is it worth NOT QUITTING for?
Are happy people grateful people? It makes sense. When you are happy, you are grateful, right? Not really. I think we all know people that have everything that you would think to make them happy, but they are not happy, and they are certainly not grateful. On the other hand, we also know people that have experienced everything that would make them unhappy, but they seem to remain happy.
It turns out that study after study of looking at human behavior and psychology, people that are grateful tends to be happier. So the more accurate statement would be, “Grateful people are Happy People”. No matter what circumstances comes your way, if you remain grateful, you become a happier person.
“In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
I am grateful this morning. Thanksgiving has always been a day to reflect on my own life to give thanks to those who I’ve come to know this year. So, a special shoutout from me to you, THANK YOU for your continuous partnership and allowing BOS to be a part of your success! I am so grateful for you.
Some of the most powerful hours of television are aired during the olympics. Not only do they cover the footage of the neck-to-neck competitions and the victory celebrations, but mostly, they focus on the back stories of the featured athletes and what they’ve overcome to be the best in the world. Their stories have power. They inspire, motivate and even challenge us. These background stories also help us emotionally connect, and I often find myself rooting for someone because I feel like I know them.
Marketing is about connecting with your audience. And in order to connect with your audience, stories must be told. Here’s an example of an iphone commercial that uses this story-telling strategy to engage with the audience emotionally. Rather than highlighting the features and functions of the iphone, they simply tell a holiday story from a misunderstood teen expressing his love for the family through technology that the iphone offers. Brilliant!
Google uses the same strategy and emphasizes the importance of family rather than the product itself by showing how a father connects all of google’s technology and tools for his child.
So, what does that mean for us? We don’t have an advertising budget like Apple or Google to create engaging and beautiful videos which emotionally connect the audience to a brand. But what we do have are the stories to cultivate client loyalty and to continue to attract new clients into our business. Craft your stories and share them on your company blog, post them on social media, email blast them through your newsletter or tell them during your seminars, other marketing functions, and/or sales meetings. Also, keep in mind the following 3 types of stories that you can share to effectively gain trust and loyalty.
Your customers’ stories: Just like your own story, your client also has a story. Ask permission to share the story of how your product or service helped them overcome their challenges. These stories will attract other companies facing similar challenges, and they will more likely work with you.
Educational stories: Use stories to educate and explain concepts and strategies to your clients. Use your own personal examples or analogies. It’s what people will remember and resinate with.
Your own personal story: Tell your own personal story. Share how your company was birthed and what brought you into the industry. Share your failures and your pivotal moments of success. Be authentic and even vulnerable to really get the people to know you. They will learn to trust you as you share your experiences, failures, and life lessons along the way.
Pause for a moment and think of all the services you currently use in your life; your financial advisor, your dentist, your hairdresser, your house cleaning services. Chances are, you were recommend to them by someone you know. Even in your business, your IT services, the printer you use, your accountant, your creative services (wink wink), even to the coffee you drink were probably given to you as a reference from someone else, right? Studies show that 71% of online shoppers read reviews before buying. What others think about your business is important to them. Studies also show that referred customers were both more profitable and loyal than normal customers. Referred customers had a higher contribution margin, a higher retention rate and were more valuable in both the short and long run. (see the actual study published) On top of that, customers say that referrals rate #1 in the utmost importance in determining who they buy from, what they buy, and what services they hire.
We trust people who are trusted by the people we trust. Say what? Okay, I’ll say it again. We trust people who are trusted by the people we trust. We naturally seek out wisdom and experience from people we know and trust, and the more credibility that they have, the more influential they become in the decision making process. I was meeting with a potential client a few weeks ago and about half way through the meeting, I realized that our conversation was already moving towards intricate details about the project. Apparently, the decision to choose my services was already made. His comment to me was that he completely trusted the person that referred him to me and that was more than enough to make his choice. We trust people who are trusted by the people we trust.
Ninety two percent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.
So now knowing that referral marketing (word-of-mouth marketing) is effective and powerful, how do we implement it into our own business? Here are 3 ideas to consider.
1. Ask for it: Once you deliver the excellent services your customers expect and they recognize you as a credible, valued resource, just simply ask them in person or in email to refer you to others that need your services. It a very logical and organic next step in the relationship. Technology can also come into play by simply sending them a survey through a free service (Survey Monkey) or ask them to rate you on a third-party site such as Yelp and/or Insider Pages that combines customer reviews. Also, ask for testimonials that can be incorporated on to your website and your social media platforms.
2. Coupon it: Print coupons that show %OFF or $OFF your service and distribute a handful to your clients for them to pass on and even for their own use for their next service. Make the offer simple and easy to understand and make sure the client’s information is noted on the coupon so they can be acknowledged when the coupon is being used by a new customer.
3. Reward it: Offer an incentive that they cannot ignore: cash, gift cards, free services, a hug or a high five. Whatever it is, make it awesome. Create a simple online form for your clients to submit referral client information, and when those referrals become your paying client, pay the big reward. Here’s the online form I created to capture and to reward my clients. By the way, feel free to fill it out and recommend me; there will be a $100 CASH for your reward as your referrals contract me for website services!
I parked today at the beach. If you knew me, one thing I don’t carry around is loose change. This has been my problem for years. I need to park, but I don’t have change. I even came up with a simple solution of carrying rolls of quarters in my glove department of my car, but once it ran out…who’s got time to re-fill it? Not me. So, I keep running into the same problem…no change – no parking. I envision that someday, one beautiful day, I will be able to park at a meter and not have to bend over with my iphone flashlight to look underneath my seat for a couple of loose quarters.
That day was today. I went to my favorite spot this morning for a run. I boldly parked in front of the meter, pulled out my iphone, clicked on my parking meter app, punched in my meter number, chose my minutes and off I went. In fact, when the time was about to run out, my app gave me a quick alert and asked me if I wanted to add more time. I was already near my car so I said to my phone, “no, but thank you and I love you.” Just kidding, I didn’t say that out loud, that was just my inside voice.
The truth is that this parking meter solution started with Imagination (ability to envision things that don’t exist) moved on to Innovation (applying creativity to come up with a unique solution) and ended with Entrepreneurship (applying innovation to bring ideas to life to the rest of the world). Tina Seelig, the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, talks about how this is the “Inventure Cycle”: capturing the attitudes and actions necessary to foster and bring breakthrough ideas to the world. Simply put, we are just one idea away. But we need to turn that idea into action. And while actively pursuing, we must have persistence and inspire others along the way. That’s entrepreneurship. It doesn’t matter where we work or what we do, if we possess the character of persistence and we are able to inspire others, we are entrepreneurs.
So the puzzle and quilt thing…there are two kinds of people: one who builds puzzles and the one who makes quilts. The one who builds the puzzles looks at the box cover to see exactly what their life is supposed to look like and they put the pieces together to achieve it. But, what if there’s a piece missing? They stand paralyzed and frustrated, not being able to complete the puzzle. Then there are the ones who make quilts. They take all things at their disposal and put them together to create solutions to their problems. They live with imagination, apply creativity and innovation to solve problems. Then they put their innovation into action, and with persistence, they inspire the city of Newport Beach to put their devices on every parking meter which then inspires me to download the app on my iphone so that I can go running without loose change.
Let’s make quilts together, it’ll be fun!
As a new Entrepreneur, I am constantly seeking wisdom and inspiration from others who share their stories of failures, triumphs and “AHA” moments that re-shapes and/or launches their business to a new level. It has become my daily ritual to carve out some time to listen to podcasts, watch videos and read blogs to educate, feed my inspiration and to create aha moments of my own. These are my top 6 that I listen to and why:
1. Pat Flynn: He shares his strategies on his successful online business and he interviews entrepreneur guests to teach marketing techniques that helped them grow their business. Very insightful and Pat is very genuine and real. I have implemented more ideas from listening to Pat then anyone else. This is my favorite Podcast.
2. John Lee Dumas: He interviews one entrepreneur per day, 7 days a week. He asks the same questions in a same tone with the same emphasis on the same syllable…hahaha! However, there’s something to be said for consistency, because the interviewee is usually very prepared to answer each question. I actually like it because the questions still leads to helping the interviewee share their story of their success, failures and aha moments.
3. Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders: This is a recorded seminar series on entrepreneurship at the Stanford University. Guest speakers are crazy brilliant and have accomplished much. This fascinates and inspires me the most as the guests have taken it to a whole another level.
4. Michael Hyatt: He coaches and teaches on intentional leadership. He has great wisdom on business but he focuses on the heart issues of entrepreneurship and life. This helps me put things into perspective and helps me see the bigger picture.
5. Tim Ferriss: He’s the author of the book The 4 Hour Workweek. He has high-profile guests and interesting topics such as…”Getting Punched and Picking Winners” You just have to listen to figure it out.
6. Brendon Burchard: He’s a Motivational Speaker/Personal Development Trainer. He also teaches business marketing and helps teach pqeople how to grow their business. The content that he puts out there is excellent.
Hope you can find these resources helpful. Comment below to share with us who you listen to.