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?
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.