The Consequences of Inaction by Greg Cangialosi

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of speaking at #FailFest as part of Baltimore Innovation Week. Occasionally, when I give a talk, I will write a summary here on my blog as a point of reference. Given the response to my topic, I chose to elaborate on what I discussed in my FailFest talk which was titled “The Consequences of Inaction.”

First off, FailFest is an event where folks come to speak about failure and their experiences with failure. Athough I have spoken at FailFest in the past, this time I decided to start my talk off with my definition / understanding of what failure actually is.

Defining Failure:

The definition of failure to me is not necessarily defined as singular event. Rather failure is an experience that takes place when something happens that is not in line with the originally intended outcome. Think about it, sure there can be specific events that depict a failure, but more often than not any form of failure can be stated as an experience that takes place that is not in line with the originally intended outcome.

A simple example as it relates to software development is as follows: Your company has a plan to develop the next version of your tech platform and launch it at the end of Q1 2014. Unfortunately, you find yourself almost a year and a half later in 2015 just now starting to put clients on your rebuilt platform. A delay that is still not up to speed with where you want it. This is not necessarily a failure defined as an event, but rather an experience, and one with consequences.

Over the years, one action that I have found to be a mindtrap for failure is a flawed belief in the truth, or being disconnected from reality. Simply said, the experience of failure has origins in the belief system that things “will work out”, when they clearly are not working out and have repeated themselves over and over again.

Or said another way, is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results. If the results are bad, this is not good. Believing things will work out when all of the signs in front of you say they are not is delusional. You are disconnected with your intuition and the reality of the situation. You may want to believe something to be true, but history has already shown that what you believe is simply not the case.

I wanted to take the opportunity to expand failure into two categories. Failing professionally and failing personally. To me, both experiences of failure have unique sets of circumstances.

Failing Professionally:

We have all heard the term “paralysis by analysis.” In the business world, this experience often comes with great consequences when one can’t break out of their “paralysis.”

Professionally speaking, there always seems to be reasons why something may continue in a downward cycle. Often due to a lack of complete information regarding a circumstance, one may think and say things like: “Lets give them one more week,” “Do you really think they are lying to us? “No, it will work out,” “Lets give them the benefit of the doubt” “Lets see what happens tomorrow,” “They said that they just need another week to finish.”

Yet, that week comes and goes, and yet another week comes and goes, and yet another….

A colleague of mine said something to me on this topic that hit home. Its simple, “For every week you wait it will cost you a month.” Or said another way, for every week that you wait to take action, it costs you a month to get to where you want to be. For every week you wait, a month. That puts things into perspective, and I can tell you that I have experienced this first hand when it comes to business and projects.

As simple as it may seem, in order to break this cycle you have to ACT, you have to BREAK the cycle; you have to RIP the band aid off the wound and TAKE ACTION. The only way to CHANGE the situation is to CREATE THE CHANGE that is required. Simple, yes, however sometimes, and often, it’s just not that easy to do.

I’ve seen it first-hand too many times in business. Whether you are a founder, a CEO, a manager, or a team member that has fallen into the rut of “hoping for the best” when things are clearly showing you they are not going well, its ok, it happens. Often though with many dynamics involved. Why do we do this? The question is valid for me as an entrepreneur. I am an eternal optimist. I paint a vision of progress, hope and genuinely believe things will work out (they always do in their own way), but occasionally I have allowed my eternal optimism to cloud my judgement and therefore my actions.

In business, this type of paralysis can come with big consequences. Depending on the exact situation there can be financial implications, missed deadlines and delays, the possibility of missed market opportunities, the loss of business / customers, etc. In the end, a lot of costly events can take place in business for NOT taking action in a timely manner. Don’t fall into this rut and always remember, for every week you wait will cost you a month to get there!

Failing Personally:

On the personal side, much of the same dynamics discussed above are involved, but in a different manner. The consequences of inaction are different on a personal level. Things can be much more subjective in these cases.

If you need to make a change in your life but over analyze it due to fear, the effects can be similar to that in business but in this case more often than not they are psychological.

As an example, maybe you want to eat healthier, or maybe you want to change the role or job you are in, or maybe you are depressed and need to make a change to turn your life around. Maybe you need to work a regular exercise and fitness routine into your life. Whatever the specific case may be, paralysis by analysis in this case leads to personal inaction. This inaction leads to excuses.

I’ve seen many friends and I have also experienced this in my own life. INACTION comes with consequences when you know that you need to do something in your life, when you know you need to make a change, and almost always when you IGNORE your INNER VOICE. When this happens, you are effectively IGNORING what’s best for you. Is that what you think you deserve? To hold yourself back?

Negative consequences come when you close yourself down to your own voice because you are always coming up with mindless distractions like; “What will people think?” “I will get on that tomorrow, what’s another day?” “I’m concerned I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings” “That’s a tough conversation to have so I’ll put it off,” etc..

There are numerous amounts of reasons why we can suggest to ourselves that now is not the right time to do something. Simply put: these are excuses and distractions that ultimately lead us to holding ourselves back from progressing forward in our path.

Personally, the consequences of such inaction could lead to things like missing new opportunities may come if you make a change. You may magnetize new people and new situations if you made a specific change. You may feel or look the best you ever have in your life as a result of your actions. However, these positive effects may never occur because you find yourself in your complacency and won’t create the changes that are necessary for you to evolve.

Consequences can also manifest in other ways as well when it comes to our personal lives. Failure to act in certain situations can manifest health issues, depression, home / family issues, substance and alcohol abuse, and many other personal ways too many to list, but you get the gist. The rabbit hole goes deep when it comes to our own human experience.

Bringing it Home:

To summarize the above, whether it’s a professional or personal situation, there are always consequences when there is a lack of action regarding a scenario that is negative or one that needs to be changed for the better.

When things are not going the way you think they should, or not flowing the way they should be, its best to LOOK THINGS DIRECTLY IN THE EYE. Take a hold of the situation and TAKE ACTION. There is a thing we all have in us called our “inner voice” or “gut feel.” Inevitably, when we ignore our gut feeling things tend to not turn out well. I have tested this time and time and time again and it always rings true. We are much more intuitive than we can imagine.

This all seems very simple, but I see to many people resist the action around the change that is required in both business and personal scenarios to allow for resolution, progess and growth. The sooner you take action and create the change you want the happier you will be and the faster you will reach your goals.

And always remember, for every week you wait, it takes a month to get to where you want to be. On a final note, think about this: There is no time like the present, and there is no present like the time.

Onward.

- Greg Cangialosi

** Special thanks to Laura Black for some editing love.

Confessions of an Event Planner: The Power of a Post It.

For those of you that don’t me, I’m an event planner. 

At times, the role of event planner gets a negative connotation. We often get, “Oh, you’re a party planner” or “Oh my, I would NEVER want your job” or the worst, “Geez, your job is so hard, you get to travel, check out awesome venues, seek out the hottest entertainment, make things pretty and have fun all the time”.

Well, my latest blog series lives to show the world, that yes my job is awesome, but it’s also extremely hard, physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, and the ultimate test of strategic thinking, problem solving, and remaining calm under pressure. These stories are true, honest and pretty comical.  Enjoy.

The first of these stories, The Power of a Post It, took place earlier this month.

It was an extremely HOT weekend in Maryland. Intrinsic Events had just come off a Friday night wedding in Washington, D.C. and it was on to Round 2 of the weekend. A beautiful wedding in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, MD.  We had spent months getting to know this amazing couple, reviewed every detail, secured an amazing line up of vendors, walked through the timeline over and over again, and at one point, my business partner and I looked at each other and said, “This one’s gonna be a piece of cake.”  I spoke too soon.

Rule #1 in Event Planning: Nothing is ever a piece of cake. The moment you let yourself think that, that’s the moment when the unpredictable happens.

Let’s rewind to a few hours earlier that day. The wedding was supposed to begin at 4:30 p.m. and around noon, it was requested that we have the valet company arrive early. Sure, no problem. We pulled out our phones and called the Valet. And called, and called, and left messages, and sent emails, and sent texts, and called, and called again. What the heck? Why was no one answering? Our event was in 4 hours.

Ok, so no big deal, worse comes to worse, they won’t arrive early but they will arrive at their normally scheduled time of 4:00 p.m.

Wrong.

4:00 p.m. came and went with no valet in sight. Guests began to arrive, photographs were being taken, my business partner was on bridal party duty and I was supposed to make sure all other logistics were running like clockwork. That included the valet.

I had the moment of “Oh Sh*t, what do I do? The valet situation was a hot button for our clients, it was NOT going to be Ok if this became an issue.

Think Jessica, Think. So I did what any event planner would do and began to assess my surroundings and my resources. Sorry, I admit, there was no PLAN B back up for the valet not showing up. For a summertime wedding, Rain and heat exhaustion were my biggest concerns.

I immediately looked around and realized OK, well I have a parking lot. Then I thought, “Could I park these cars myself?” – Wait, no way. I’m not exactly the world’s greatest driver and the last thing I need is to be sued by a guest.  

Rule #2 in Event Planning: Never sacrifice yourself or your business liability to please a customer. A lawsuit is never a successful resolution.

Ok, what next? I realized I didn’t need to be a valet, I just needed to stall until the REAL valet decided to show up.  I also needed to make sure the guests were happy, made it to the ceremony on time, and believe that my Plan B was really Plan A.

So, I looked in my purse and found a stack of blue post-its.  LIGHTBULB!

I immediately had a plan.  I’ve seen hundreds of valet companies in action and I certainly was no beginner when it came to creating processes and efficiencies. I would simply create my own valet system with a pen, some post its, a legal pad, and an amazingly good photographic memory.

I told myself, I got this. But first, I had to make friends with the parking attendant for the lot so she didn’t let the guests driving in suspect any shady business. I walked up to her, introduced myself, asked questions about her and her life, then… told her my #WeddingPlannerProblems. She got it, she felt bad, and she immediately became my ally in this mission.  

Rule #3 in Event Planning: Be nice and kind to everyone you meet because you never know when you may need their help.

The first car pulled up, here we go. They were greeted by the attendant, she directed them my way, and I directed them to their parking spot, wrote the #1 on a post it, took notes of year, make and model for car #1, handed them the post it with a smile and a welcome, took their keys and sent them on their way.

And it continued, for 25 cars and 30 minutes, in 100 degree heat, in a black dress and heels, in the middle of a parking lot in Baltimore.  And yes, I did get some strange looks and maybe a little skepticism but no one said a word. They believed me and my process. They were happy because I was friendly and efficient and at the end of the day, all they wanted to do was park their car.

The “real” valet eventually showed up and the parking attendants and I had some fierce conversations. But you know what, it’s not their fault, it’s their boss and I knew that. We talked out how to remedy the situation and everyone left the wedding happy, with their cars in one piece.

And to this day, our Clients never knew there was an issue. I’m sure one day over cocktails, we will tell them the truth and have a great laugh about it all, but for now, it’s our little secret.  All because of the power of a post – it. 

Thank you Romy & Michelle for the invention. I will never go anywhere from now on without post-its in my purse.

Rule # 4 in Event Planning: Nothing is ever as it seems and you can’t stop the earth from rotating.

Life happens and issues arise. It’s a fact that events are stressful and unpredictable obstacles are going to be thrown our way. Yet, the real professional is one who can act quick, develop a workable solution, have confidence in their plan and who can ALWAYS project a fresh, happy-go-lucky aura to all those around them.

The truth is, whether you believe it or not, someone is always watching you. Looking frantic, nervous, tired, and stressed is not an option in our world if you want to be successful.  Crying, pointing fingers, and placing blame is also not an option because it does no one any good. It can ruin events, ruin your reputation, and usually never leads to repeat business.

A large part of an event planners job is to assess situations, maximize your resources, build relationships, prevent crisis, and maintain a (smiling) poker face at all times. It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it. And I can honestly say, I’m so happy for myself, my business partner, my team, and my clients, that I am the lucky one who has decided to take on the challenge.

Stay tuned for more of my Confessions.  

FOLLOW my business @EventsIntrinsic 

RECHARGE BEFORE YOU BURNOUT: A CRUCIAL PRACTICE FOR ALL ENTREPRENEURS

RECHARGE BEFORE YOU BURNOUT: A CRUCIAL PRACTICE FOR ALL ENTREPRENEURS

Seven-day workweeks, unpredictable work hours, business development constantly on the mind, and little to no personal time are just a few things every entrepreneur becomes very accustom to while enduring the hustle of starting and growing a business. 

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff. Things every Human (especially Entrepreneurs) should do every day.

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff. Things every Human (especially Entrepreneurs) should do every day.

We all know there are certain actions, habits, and behaviors that we should be doing each day to be a successful entrepreneur. I’ve read countless blogs, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and observed my mentors on the subject.  I know that to be a successful and productive entrepreneur, I should be and need to be reading one great business book a month, exercise daily, drink water, wake up before 6 am, check emails before 7 am, eat healthy, find a mentor, plan your day, set goals, save money….and I completely agree with every single TO DO.

Action vs Inaction: Restructuring

There comes a time in every business when you look around and say to yourself "This just isn't what I had in mind." Be it the culture turned out differently than you wanted, the revenues aren't what they should be or you just don't like where things are headed. There comes a time when you realize your business has outgrown it's structure; that your products have pivoted but your organization hasn't. 

This is a tough spot to be in for any business owner of any age. Why? Because as business creators and entrepreneurs we thrive on the innovation; on the Kaizen of the experience. Without that bait you risk losing the luster. I think this is what we call harnessing Intrinsic Motivation. Sometimes it gets out of whack. That's ok! What's important is having a process of alignment ready for deployment.

Dead-End Road In West Gee-Hossa Flat

The first step in getting yourself (Your Company) unstuck is determining what stuck actually is. Stuck is different for different companies. Stuck is different depending on the situation. Sometimes you can have a few different versions of stuck happening at the same time in different parts of your organization. So the important part is defining those pain points.

Is it deliverables that are suffering? Is personnel the route of the problem that is ultimately manifesting itself in poor office moral? Is there a lack of company culture because it isn't being influenced from the top down? These are all different problems that can be restructured; you just have to put the work in to really define the issue.

How Do I Get Out Of Here?

Often times we make the assumption that in recognizing a problem we begin the process of correcting it. Other points of view suggest that we just stop doing the "bad behavior" and by proxy correct the issue. I'm not so willing to place my confidence in such arbitrary tactics. For me the path to proper restructuring involves not only recognizing and ceasing damaging behaviors or actions but also in creating the perfect version of those behaviors or actions that will fill the void.

If we route out something that's negatively impacting our business but fail to create something positive and functional to put in it's place we'll ultimately find ourselves back in a similar dilemma. Something that has intention and embodies your businesses goals and ethics will create a windfall but you need to know what that "something" is!

Defining What You Want!

So.....now that you've extracted the problem it's your turn to imagine what the ideal version of that situation would look like. Now is the time to spitball ideas, pow-wow with your teams and ask yourself the hard questions.

This moment of brainstorming is one of the most critical in the Restructuring process. Why? Because it is in this place that we realize what the problem situation should have looked like all along. With that insight, we start to extrapolate how things will change in our organization if the idea is implemented.

The Hunt for Gold

Now that you know what you want the process/idea/overhaul to look like it's critical to find the right practitioner for the job. This is literally a hunt for gold. Since you've defined where the problem stemmed from, and what the ideal solution would be you have a pretty good idea of the types of personality and business traits that would excel.

We're only as good as the people we surround ourselves with so when it comes to driving change, to really restructuring, having strong leadership in place that understands the intention, has the confidence to inspire progress and the drive to see the job through will be critical. Hunt for that gold long and hard, be highly thorough in your vetting and then give them the reigns and smack the horse.

Create a Coat of Armor

Now that your team is in place and the initiative has been realized don't just send everyone to the front line naked. Make sure to take the time to build the proper processes around the work you've done. Put systems in place to help your team thrive and grow! Include their feedback as you go along; their POV is a valuable asset.

Take the time to implement and acknowledge the idealogical changes you're creating in your company. How  you communicate your vision for the future and how it impacts your team will be your defining moment. Leadership and politics are a heady brew; the visionary understands their role in everything but also that each need their own balance. 

Back to the Battle

So here we are! Are you done? No way. Remember, this is a process of constant improvement; raking the sand. A healthy methodology that supports the active restructuring of processes and intention in your company will prove to be one of the highest forms of ROI your business will ever receive. And it's Free; all it takes is your time.

Do you have any ideas about Creative Restructuring? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below. I'll comment back!

“So, What do you do for FUN?”

How many of you entrepreneurs out there hear the following on a daily basis?

“You work too much.”

“Do you have to work today?”

“Are you working this weekend?”

“So…what do you do for FUN?”

In the beginning, my responses were always a nod, half paying attention, half not caring and simply yes, yes, yup, uh-huh, ok.

But when it came to the FUN question, I tried explaining that my Work IS FUN. Building a business is so much FUN each and every day. Learning something new by meeting someone new is FUN.

But the reality is, non-entrepreneurs just don’t understand that concept. In fact, non-intrinsically motivated and un-passionate entrepreneurs don’t even understand that concept.

For those out there reading this who don’t understand where I’m coming from, let me just tell you the things about being an entrepreneur that are SO FUN every single day.

-       It’s like a board game, the fun isn’t in the end when you win or lose, it’s the anticipation of setting up, getting started, and going through the course that’s the fun part. Entrepreneurship is like one never ending family board game night…. Complete with tears and impromptu victory dances.  

-       Succeeding through others brings extreme happiness.

-       A “To Do” list is the most exciting read of the day for me. It’s never a “To Do” chore, it’s an “I can’t wait to get this done” activity.

-       Meeting other entrepreneurs for the first time is like discovering a long lost friend or sister from another mister. There is an instant connection, bond, ongoing conversation and sense of comfort unlike any other.

-       The glass is ALWAYS half full with an endless water cooler supply sitting right next to it. It’s incredible to look at the day and the world in front of you and know that opportunities are endless.

-       There’s places you go where “Everyone knows your name.” If you create relationships, brand yourself, and consistently network yourself and your business, there is always somewhere you can go where everyone knows who you are, what you do and your name. That’s just fun.

-       Freedom is fun. Freedom to create your own choices and then make your own choices. Freedom to create a life you’ve always imagined. Freedom to change directions. Freedom to change schedules. Freedom to work with whomever you choose. Freedom to do whatever you want.

Don’t get me wrong. This ‘ship is hard. There are times I feel like I’m in college going through sorority “Hell Week” all over again.

Entrepreneurship takes time, money, emotions, physical endurance, strength, love, passion, and discipline.

But at the end of the day, it’s fun and we wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.

I’d rather go through the entrepreneur “Hell Week” every week because it’s more fun and exciting than going back to the corporate desk job life I lived before.

You know what wasn’t fun? Having anxiety if I hit traffic going into the office. Having a weekend “off” but not enjoying it because my work bestie in accounting just got laid off. Being told I do an amazing job, but there’s no room for growth.

That’s NOT fun.

Whenever anyone asks me and my Intrinsic Events business partner, “So how has it been starting your own business?” Our first answer is always, FUN.

We know it’s hard for people to believe us, but I hope this blog gives some insight as to why entrepreneurship is fun. At least for me.

I’d love for you all to share what you think is FUN about being entrepreneurs.

Stay tuned on my next blog for some steps to take in order to ensure you are able to have FUN as an entrepreneur. 

FOLLOW @Intrinsicevents for more advice and of course, FUN!

A Test of Leadership: Crisis Management

CHARM CITY CRISIS

There’s no doubt that this week has brought out a lot of emotions in many people who live, work, and play in our beautiful Charm City. The series of violent events that occurred over the past week in Baltimore, MD are disappointing, scary and have wreaked havoc on the city and its people; sending many into crisis mode.

As I watched things unfold throughout the day on Monday via Social Media and on TV, I found it very interesting to see how different people manage a crisis situation. 

As an Event Planner, I’m not stranger to crisis management. That is what we do. We deal with issues as they come and are constantly putting out fires to ensure the event is a success and our clients are happy. As a small business owner, mastering this craft has been incredibly helpful. Things go wrong in business everyday. Crisis situations in business and in life are inevitable and unavoidable. 

BE AMONG THE GREAT

However it’s in these moments of crisis that define ourselves as people and most of all, as leaders.  I’ve seen many “leaders” be put in moments of crisis and forced to step up to the challenge of handling and managing the situation in front of them.

Through these situations, I’ve come to the realization that leaders are ultimately defined in their actions, not their titles. Crisis situations are those moments that separate bad, good and great leaders. Here are some ways to make sure you fall amongst the great.

STAY CALM AND DON’T LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT

When you are in a leadership role, all eyes are on you. Every move you make will be critiqued. So don’t give them a reason to give you a bad critique. Always stay calm in crisis situations. The crisis is problem at hand; the last thing anyone needs is for the leader/manager to freak out.

DON’T MAKE EXCUSES

When a crisis occurs in your business, you need to deal with it head on. Don’t sit there and make excuses and try to convince yourself and everyone around you that “it’s not that bad.” The longer you avoid the situation, the worse it’s going to be.

PROACTIVELY PLAN FOR THE WORST

You should always have an idea of potential threats that your business could face. It’s important to be aware of these threats so you can create action plans ahead of time if a crisis does occur. Being ahead of the game is a good thing.

TAKE ACTION…NOW

As a business owner and leader, there is really no place to hide in a crisis situation. You’re going to be faced with difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, but that’s ok. You’re solving a problem; it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s your job to make sure things get handled quickly and efficiently. Instead of running away from the problem, attack it!

Gaining a Competitive Advantage: Part 3

Show Your Face.

Rule #1 in Gaining a Competitive Advantage is business is to create an edge over your competitors and to have something that no one else in the industry has.

Well guess what? Unless you’re a twin, no one else has YOUR face, so show it and use yourself to your competitive advantage.

My business partner and I are pretty much connected at the hip. We go to every networking event together, make decisions together, biz dev together, partake in happy hours together… anything, we do it together.

A LOT of people tell us we aren’t being efficient with our time, we say we are being strategic. People know us and our brand because of US. Whenever we walk into a room together, people know it’s @EventsIntrinsic

It’s not a bad thing when you walk in a room for networking and people start saying, “Those @EventsIntrinsic girls”, “Those girls, are they sisters?” “Those girls, what do they do?” “Oh those are the girls that are partnered with those @Pixilated guys”.

We are two (fairly) young blonde girls who like to spiral curl our hair on occasion. We like to have fun. We like to talk and laugh with each other as business owners. We like to tag team a conversation not only because it’s fun but because we don’t want to repeat conversations. We value ourselves as the greatest marketing tool in our box. We celebrate who we are as our brand, Intrinsic Events.

It has been so critical for our business development and growth to get our faces out there, especially as a service based business. Even in those moments when you feel ugly or sick or tired, just get out there and show your face. People remember YOU more than they remember your website or tag line, trust me.

It is hard for me to network, I’m introverted, I am around people all day long planning events and at the end of the day, I just want to go home. But guess what? That’s not how you gain a competitive advantage. You gain a competitive advantage by putting on some mascara, black eyeliner, and power heels, and getting your face out there.

And believe me, it’s not just about showing your face. That’s just the first step. It’s about being consistent in showing your face and building relationships with your face, consistently.

As a service based business, our greatest leads and customers have come from referrals through networking or from direct networking contacts. 

We keep the referral funnel plentiful because we are in front of people all the time, not over email, not over phone, but over good old fashioned handshakes, eye contact, and a smile. Not just once, but CONSISTENTLY.

There’s something to be said for the old tag line, “Put Your Best Face Forward”.  I encourage you to use your face as the greatest marketing tool you have in the coming months. It will do wonders, I guarantee it.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

“CAUSE YOU HAD A BAD DAY”

Whether it’s a result of your alarm not going off, your computer crashing, your biggest client texting you non-stop because they’re upset, or because you totally bombed a presentation…we all experience bad days now and then.

Bad days are the worst. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur. We as business owners don’t have time to add a pity party to our already busy schedules.

WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS

I actually experienced one of these “bad days” this past week. It all started when I woke up Monday morning feeling like death. I was stuffed up, achy and feverish. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sleep the day away. But I had more things on my to-do list than I knew what to do with, so that was not an option.

When I got to the office and attempted to tackle that lengthy to-do list, we had an unexpected crisis occur that required all of my attention. Nothing was getting done, which was stressful.

After we finished putting out fires for most of the day, my business partner and I decided to take a lunch break at 3:30 p.m. This was the highlight of my day. Finally, an opportunity to relax, have a beer, take my mind off work and recharge…oh, and to have my car towed!

One hour trip to the impound lot, $300.00, and few tears later; I was back in the office prepping for a very late night ahead.

TIME TO REFOCUS

The fact of the matter is, difficulties and obstacles in life, both personal and professional, are inevitable. They’re going to happen and when you are concentrating on building a business, it may seem obstacles appear more frequently than not. 

It’s important NOT to focus on the obstacles you encounter, but instead focus on how you are going to handle them. Sure, I could have thrown my hands up in the air and called it quits for the day after my car was towed, but I didn’t. I chose to look at the obstacle that was thrown at me as an opportunity. “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” – unknown

HANDLE THAT “BAD DAY” LIKE A BOSS

As an entrepreneur, I strive to make a conscious effort to deal with situations in my life strategically verses reactionary. If I am having a bad day or if I’m feeling really down, I go through the following steps, which helps me stay positive and focused:

  1. ACKNOWLEGE IT: They always say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem. Well a bad day can quickly turn into a problem, so recognizing that and making the decision to turn it around is half the battle. The quicker you accept the fact that you can’t control what the Universe throws at you, the quicker you can move on!
  2. DO YOU: Once you’ve had a chance to gather your thoughts and calm down, do something for YOU. Go for a walk, grab a cup of tea or coffee, listen to some jams…do whatever calms your soul. I like to go somewhere quiet and meditate (which is something I’ve picked up recently and highly recommend to all entrepreneurs). Focus on yourself completely.
  3. UNCOVER THE SILVER LINING: This is my favorite step. After you’ve had time to calm down and focus on yourself, it’s time to uncover why that obstacle wrecked your day. There is always a lesson to be learned from a negative situation. Find it. When my car was towed the other day, my lesson was to slow down and really pay attention to my surroundings. There were signs (yes they were small signs) on the side of the street that I had failed to read. If I hadn’t been moving so quickly through my day, I would noticed them. Entrepreneurs are always running a mile a minute and we need to be told to slow down sometimes. It will only make us better.
  4. LET GO: I used to have a real problem fixating on things that didn’t go my way. Well that is no way to go through life, especially when you are in business for yourself. We need to be agile and willing to shift our focus or direction at any time. If your day was terrible, who cares? Move on. You never know if a bad situation is setting you up for an amazing one just around the corner.

So next time you’re having a bad day and feel like this…

Take time to accept the situation, focus on yourself, look at the positive and let go of the negative. It’s a sure way to move forward onto bigger and better things. If you have tips on how to turn your bad days into positive ones, please comment below!

FOLLOW ME @intrinsicrach  and @IntrinsicEvents

Gaining a Competitive Advantage: Part 2

Be a Category of One.

One of my favorite business books of all time is Becoming a Category of One by Joe Calloway. In this book, Calloway challenges businesses to not become the leader in a category but to create a new category within your industry altogether, thus becoming a “Category of One”.

Easier said than done right? Wrong. It’s really not as hard as you think but there are action steps you must take in order to identify who you are and what new category you want to create for your company.  Calloway provides this advice to all business leaders in order to become a “Category of One”.

1.     Have a story. Think about it. In order to differentiate yourself from anyone else in your industry, you must have something that no one else has. The easiest place to start in defining these unique attributes is your story. It’s yours, no one has it so learn how to tell it, share it, and use it to your advantage.  

2.     Adapt to change. The world is constantly changing and you need to be able to transform your company to the constant evolution and not become comfortable with where you are today. If you do, you will disappear and become a category of extinct like the good old T-Rex or Blockbuster.

3.     Defy comparison. Find a way to take the basic, do it better than the rest and then make your competition a non-issue. Stop worrying about how to “beat” your competition. Instead, worry about how to “beat” your customer’s expectations….every single time.

4.     Your brand is most important and your customers define it. Whether you want to admit it or not, whether you spent thousands of dollars for a marketing agency to brand the crap out of you, none of it will define you the way your customers will. Especially in today’s world of social media and instant content sharing, your customers’ definition of your brand is ultimately what defines your brand. In the most basic of explanations, perception is reality and you must deliver on what you want your customers to perceive every single time. If not, then you change your reality to your customer’s perception and market the crap out of it. Take for example. They started out  

5.     Be better, not different. If you go through your competitive advantage exercises and conduct your SWOT analysis and at the end your result is that you are completely equal in terms of product, price, place, service, and quality to your competition then what do you do? It’s simple. Be better, not different… to your customer. Know your customer better. Get closer to your customer. Emotionally connect with your customer better than anyone else out there.

6.     Be Consistent. Delivering on the basics consistently will win with customers every single time.  People like reliability, comfort, and the ability for others to meet (not exceed) expectations.

So now that you know the basic principles on what becoming a “Category of One” means, how do you create it?

Since I learn way better through real life examples vs. theory, here are some amazing examples of Baltimore-based companies who became a “Category of One”… whether they intended to or not. And since their new category creation, other companies have followed in their footsteps trying to compete in the same category vs. creating their own.

And I guarantee you, these “Category of One” companies below are not going to sleep at night worried about how they are going to “beat” their competition now. They are going to bed innovating how they can “beat” and exceed their customer’s wildest expectations in creating new categories.  I encourage you to learn more about each of these companies and find out their strategies to becoming a “Category of One”.  

Example #1 – Pixilated Photobooth (www.PixilatedPhotobooth.com )

Gone are the days of ugly, velvet curtain, crowded photo booths that cut off half the people in the picture like this.   

And thanks to Pixilated Photobooth, welcome to the FUN photo experiences that never, ever get old or ugly or crowded.

Example #2 – Up Dos For I Dos (www.updosforidos.com )

After years of working in a well-known beauty salon, Founder Ashley Riddle, was tired of seeing brides come in stressed out, pressed for time, and downright uncomfortable for their wedding day hair and makeup.

Why not start a business where the salon comes to you in the comfort of your hotel suite, with mimosas and your entire entourage at your side? So that’s what she did and 11 years later, she hasn’t looked back!

When competitors started coming into her market space, she innovated yet again and started Up Dos For Us Too (www.updosforustoo.com ) which delights and entertains children with the fantasy of dressing up, princesses and tea parties.

Example # 3 – Gundalow Juice (www.gundalowjuice.com )

Founder, Dana Sicko, was tired of hearing her Clients from her personal chef business, Nutreatious (www.nutreatious.com ) complaining about disgusting flavors of cold-pressed juices and accessibility to cold-pressed juices on the east coast. So what did she do? She started her own, delicious, first ever cold-pressed juice manufacturing company right here in Baltimore.

Example #4 – Order Up (www.orderup.com )

Tired of the same old pizza, Chinese, and subs take out night after night? Confused as to how that same pizza from the same place could take 20 minutes one night and an hour and a half the next? Well Order Up solved every single complaint anyone could ever have about the take out industry. They expanded the offerings to real food from real restaurants and created an app to be able to track your driver from literally Point A to Point B.

Example #5 – Under Armour (www.UnderArmour.com)

And last but certainly not the least to Baltimore natives, Under Armour, who has completely changed the industry of athletic performance apparel.

“While playing football for the University of Maryland, founder Kevin Plank hated having to change his sweat-soaked cotton T-shirts over and over again during two-a-days. Knowing that there simply had to be something better, he set out to create a solution.

Plank named his new company Under Armour, and after extensive research on the athletic benefits of synthetic fabrics, he designed the first Under Armour HeatGear® T-shirt. Engineered with moisture-wicking performance fibers, the shirt helps keep athletes cool, dry, and light in the most brutally hot conditions.” (http://www.uabiz.com/company/history.cfm)

What a concept? Keeping athletes and exercise enthusiasts cool while sweating to death?

On behalf of myself, my friends, my Merritt Athletic Club-goers and the city of Baltimore, thank you Mr. Plank for always striving to be a “Category of One” company.

      So let’s recap.  

The best way to gain a competitive advantage is to eliminate the competition and become your own  category of one. 

 

Action vs. Inaction: Two Wrongs Make a Write

To Be or Not To Be

I've always wanted to be a writer. I've struggled with it and what it means to start or not to start; to write. To actually commit and have a purpose in my task. I mean seriously, what am I doing? How do I do it? Until recently all efforts have failed me. 

When I was a young man in middle and high school I can remember my creative writing courses and wanting to have something to say. Feeling like I wanted to tell a really incredible version of what happened inside of my head. Ultimately the ability to communicate or construct any kind of legitimate narrative was something that was elusive. Mostly it flat out escaped me.

Baby Steps

So how does it begin? What I figured out is that it begins with very small steps. With a very small incremental goal that you can put in front of you and then knock off the railing. Also.... it takes PRACTICE! 

I don't know why it's so hard for me to remember that most things take practice to become mildy proficient. Practice has worked time and time again but for some reason I always hold myself to some crazy expectation (read delusion) of being great at whatever new thing I'm doing as soon as I start doing it. Unrealistic, to say the least. 

Action vs. Inaction and the Startup Soirée platform have provided me with an awesome opportunity to write on a regular basis and not take myself too seriously. I mean, I take this so seriously, but I'm not afraid to take a risk now and again; and curse. Thank you for that!

But I Really Wanna

I think what I want most of all is just to be consistent. Make time in my day to commit to something that I feel is beneficial to myself and also for the people that are around me. What I found in the instance of having committed to writing something on a regular basis is that it helps me to understand how I feel about things.

There's a very different part of my brain that works when I'm feeling something versus when I'm thinking. Often the way that I think and the way I feel  are in conflict with each other. Parsing through the different points of view in my mind can be erratic. When I'm forced to construct my thoughts in language it provides a new perspective. 

I'm an emotional person. Sometimes my emotional response to a situation isn't exactly how I feel in the long run. It doesn't negate that response, however it also doesn't mean that it's a balanced perspective either.

What Should I Say

It's tough to figure out your "Voice," as a writer. It isn't as obvious as it seems. Also, it's hilarious how elusive something can be when it's just you. The person you've known the longest. Haha!

I started with the idea of wanting to write for more of an inspirational point of view, not in a cheesy ass way, but in a way that would help to provide an outlet for the positivity that I feel in my heart in lieu of feeling negative. That lasted for a few  articles.

I've also experimented with "How To" articles as I feel like I've learned a lot of technical tasks and I could be helpful in providing insight to how others can accomplish those tasks too. But that also didn't speak directly to my point of view. Directly to the amount of feel I wanted to impart on my writing. So again I search. 

I'm closer now to where I want to be but I still have a long way to go. What I would really like most is to embody in my writing the candor and ease with which I converse with the world. One of the things that I love most of all in life is simple conversations with people that are excited to be having conversations with me. I've always enjoyed people and I think on my better days I'm helpful to others. That's kind of the root of it. 

Where You Going Charlie Brown?

So what's up next? I'm not totally sure! But, I plan on continuing to publish articles. Simply put I just want to keep making more awesome. And try to be more like me.

All of that said.... I wanna know Where are YOU going? Leave me a message in the comment section below. I love hearing about other peoples Action(s) vs Inaction(s)..

See you soon?

Patrick

Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @PatrickRife

 

 

Gaining a Competitive Advantage: Part 1

Pay It Forward.

Gaining a competitive edge is one of the most important milestones in building any company, especially a startup.

But what does it mean to gain competitive advantage? Ultimately, it’s having an edge over your competition. Defining a competitive advantage is a challenge. It’s especially conflicting and difficult when your competition consists of your peers, your mentors, your colleagues, and even your friends.

It all comes down to value. A competitive edge is gained by creating a GREATER value to your customers and your partners. Often times that’s accomplished by offering lower prices or additional benefits. Sometimes it’s created by justifying premium pricing for premium services put out by established businesses with highly decorated leadership in place. Or, for startups, it’s offering the first to market niche idea that everyone has to have.

Whatever your competitive advantage strategy is, essentially we all have to answer the question, “Why should our customers purchase from us versus the competition?”

There are various strategies that I plan to touch upon during this series, but first and foremost, for @IntrinsicEvents, our strategy to gain a competitive advantage has been to Pay It Forward.

What does it mean to Pay It Forward?

The concept of Paying It Forward is not new. It dates all the way back to 317 BC, where it was used as strategic plot in ancient Athens. However, it became more mainstream after the 2000 movie, Pay It Forward, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and that kid from the Sixth Sense (I highly recommend any entrepreneur to watch it if you haven’t already).

In the most simplest explanation, paying it forward means doing something for someone out of kindness and not expecting anything in return. As the receipt of an act of paying it forward, you don’t pay them back directly, but you pass it on to another.

Ok so what is the point of all this? We’re in business to make money, experience growth, and build teams. How does paying it forward play a role and contribute to these goals?

Because it’s proven that acts of kindness builds exponentially in a community and because deep down people believe that one good deed deserves another. It’s the golden rule in its finest form. Think about it, by building a community based around the pay it forward concept you are creating a following, creating a culture, and ultimately defining your values and brand within your business community.

Paying It Forward not only creates the world a better place. It makes the world (especially our entrepreneurial world), a more successful place.


Why does Paying It Forward Give You a Competitive Advantage?

In my experience as an entrepreneur in the Baltimore startup community, I’ve learned that those companies who pay it forward are ultimately….

-       Obtaining the ability to recruit better talent because XX company is “A Great Place to Work For” - resulting in having that premium talent as an advantage.

-       Taking advantage of word of mouth, the most inexpensive and effective form of marketing

-       Surrounding themselves with like-minded people (because in reality, we like being around people who are doing kind and good things for us)

-       Experiencing the pure Intrinsic Motivation that comes from helping others do well and make money

-       Creating a culture of respect and admiration within your peers, partners, and employees

-       Generating referrals that gives the ability to maintain a steady source of income throughout peak and low business periods

To be successful in building a business and being an entrepreneur, you need to identify those activities at which you and your company excel, not just the activities in which you perform equally well with your competition. In a very competitive environment, @IntrinsicEvents, myself @JesGignac , and by biz partner @IntrinsicRach, truly succeed  in the ability to maintain an intrinsically motivated mindset and pay it forward at all times. That’s our competitive advantage.

So, I’d love to know, what does paying it forward mean to you and what ways does your company pay it forward?  

Is Fear the Ultimate Motivator for Entrepreneurs?

COMMONALITY AMONGST ALL FOUNDERS

After our first StartUp Soiree back in January, my business partners and I received an email from a well-known business owner in Baltimore who had attended the event. He thanked us for the invitation, complimented the execution of the event, and said he was honored to be in a room full of other Founders. All really kind things, but it was what he said at the end of the email that really stood out to me.

He said that as he made his way around the room, he started to notice that many of the Founders he spoke to all shared a common emotion – fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the next step. Fear of balance in their lives.

A profound observation that really got me thinking. Is fear the ultimate motivator amongst entrepreneurs?

AM I THE ONLY ONE?

When I left my corporate job to pursue Intrinsic Events full time, I experienced many different emotions. I was excited, extremely motivated, very focused – and scared out of my mind. I often wondered if it was just me or did all entrepreneurs feel this way? Did all entrepreneurs experience fear?

The answer is yes. All entrepreneurs have fears. We are human after all. But it’s the way they handle their fears that makes them different. Fear makes us feel uncomfortable and tends to invoke a fight-or-flight response. I’ve discovered that great entrepreneurs step out of their comfort zone and almost always take the fight response.

BE BIGGER THAN YOUR FEARS

The thing is, fear can make or break you as an entrepreneur. The key is learning and mastering the art of turning fear into a positive energy and never letting it control you.

As a business owner, it’s important to constantly evaluate yourself so you are able to grow personally and professionally. Over the past year, I experienced fears that were hindering my company’s growth. Instead of fleeing or becoming paralyzed by them, I attacked them and turned them into my ultimate motivators.

Here are some of those fears and how I handled them.

FEAR OF REJECTION

Ok, so who likes to feel rejected? Yeah, that’s right…NO ONE. We all long for acceptance and approval from others and when that doesn’t happen we tend to be crushed. It’s hard not to feel that way.

Business owners put so much time, energy and passion into their work. So when someone comes along and doesn’t like what we have to offer or chooses to take their business somewhere else, it sucks. And I don’t know about you, but I always used to take rejection personally. Key words, “used to.”  

As an entrepreneur I had to learn that not everyone is going to want what I have to offer and that’s OK. Don’t let rejection be a fear that consumes you. Instead, use rejection as a motivation to do better next time. When a potential client turns me down, instead of getting upset I ask them “why?” Obtaining this feedback helps me improve my processes and services and I know that there is another opportunity right around the corner.

FEAR OF NOT BEING PERFECT

We’ve all heard the saying, “Nobody’s perfect” right? Well how come we don’t apply that same concept to ourselves in professionally? No business is perfect, bottom line. This is why entrepreneurs are constantly innovating, pushing the envelope and figuring out how their business can stand out from the rest. It’s what makes being a business owner awesome.

I’ve always held myself to a very high standard professionally. My work has to be perfect and if I make a mistake and my work is sub-par, I am my worst critic.  This mentality has made me an excellent worker, but isn’t the best mindset to have as an entrepreneur.

Instead, we must acknowledge that “perfect” doesn’t exist. We as professionals are always going to be evolving and the same goes with our businesses. So what I have learned to do is set deadlines, put my best work out there and to not get hung up on whether I think it’s perfect or not. Know that you can always go back and improve. If you obsess over perfection nothing will ever get accomplished and in time you will fail.

FEAR OF FAILURE

Ah yes, the fear amongst all of us entrepreneurs, whether we like to admit it or not.

None of us want to fail. We all want to produce an amazing product or service that our clients find useful and we want to run a profitable business, end of story. But when we all decide to become entrepreneurs, we are signing up to take risks. We don’t know if we are going to succeed or not.

Nothing in life is guaranteed. We don’t know how long we are going to be here, so it’s important to make the best of the hand we are dealt. This same concept can be applied to running a business.  

One of my StartUp Soiree business partners recently shared a piece of advice, which was, “The only way to fail, is to not try. Just give it your everything.” (Thanks Nic!) His advice has stuck with me and really puts things in prospective when dealing with the fear of failing as a business owner.

We as entrepreneurs cannot stress over the possibility that we might fail. This will get us nowhere. Yes the possibility will always be present but the chance to build something great won’t. I’ve learned to focus on the building instead of the fear. This has helped me stay positive and true to what I was meant to do.

It sounds simple because it is. It’s a mind over matter thing and is a mentality necessary for all entrepreneurs to have.

PUNCH FEAR IN THE FACE

Being an entrepreneur has its scary moments, but that’s what makes it exciting. Fear is going to be a part of your journey, just remember to explore those feelings and use them to your advantage. Don’t let fear discourage you or throw you off course.

 “Let your dreams be bigger than your fears and your actions louder than your words.” – Author Unknown

FOLLOW ME @intrinsicrach and Intrinsic Events @IntrinsicEvents 


5 Things I (re)Learned Since I Quit My Job and Started A Business

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Daric Snyder, Founder of Baltimore Rex

 Daric Snyder is a jack-of-all-trades technologist, digital designer, writer, and future interstellar anthropologist living in Baltimore. He's dedicated to creating great experiences on the web – and happy to talk with anyone about their next project. Daric is building a new local news product, Baltimore Rex, that makes it fun and easy to follow the daily news in Baltimore.

 

5 Things I (re)Learned Since I Quit My Job and Started A Business

"What the hell am I doing?"

I've asked myself this more than I'd like to admit since I quit my job and started my company, Baltimore Rex, a few months ago. I'm not the only one. Almost every entrepreneur I've spoken with remembers feeling the same way (or still feels it).

Trying to figure it out is equally scary and fun.

In my career, I've been focused on building great web experiences, especially for media outlets. I'm obsessed with how the web is transforming the way we live and work together. After finishing a major project at my last job, I started to think hard about what would come next. Venturing out on my own felt like the natural next step – though not without risk – the best opportunity for personal growth, freedom, and the pursuit of the work I loved most. I'm now consulting with established companies and start-ups on creating engaging digital products – and I've launched one of my own: Baltimore Rex. Rex is a simple, fun way to make sense of the local news in Baltimore, without clickbait or junky ads.

If you're looking for sage advice from a seasoned business owner, this isn't the post for you. I'm new at this, and it's way too early to know if I'm any good at it – but I'll share what I've experienced so far. I've probably read a lot of the same advice you have about starting a business. It all starts to blur together after a while, but a few things I had heard before crystalized once I actually went out and did it.

Be ready to be wrong

You have a good reason for starting a business: maybe it's driving you crazy that your idea's not out there, or maybe you want to make a living doing what matters to you, or maybe you think you can rake in the cash doing something you're good at. Whatever your reason, good luck.

Here's the thing: somewhere along the way, you've made assumptions about your plan, your pitch, your product, and your customers that are just wrong. It's your job to catch these mistakes, to own them, and to adapt.

There are two ways to handle this: you need to become supernaturally good at listening, and you need to be supremely honest with yourself.

Listening to your customers, your mentors, and (increasingly) your data will give you vital feedback that you can ignore at your peril. If you're not occasionally surprised by what you hear, you're not paying enough attention and not asking the right questions. One of the things I love about building things on the internet is how easy it is to collect quantitative data about how your work is performing. I launched Baltimore Rex as a daily email newsletter because MailChimp makes it easy to analyze how my audience is responding to each day's digest. Looking at the numbers is not enough, though. Talk to your customers often and build your products on empathy with them.

Likewise, you must be honest with yourself about your mistakes and your blind spots. Of course, starting anything requires a bit of a reality-distortion field: we'd all like to think that we can bring something successful to life through sheer power of will. You're still human, and the sooner you can acknowledge it, the sooner you can fix things that go wrong. 

One last thing on this: I'm not on board with the "failure is good" adage/garbage that you hear a lot on the so-called startup scene. I find it off-putting, and I know I'm not alone. Failure hurts. The whole "fail fast and often" mantra reeks of unexamined good fortune: most people starting a new business are often doing so from a reasonably safe, comfortable position – just because it's difficult as hell doesn't mean you aren't privileged to be able to try. The business of venture capital only perpetuates this myth: VCs are happy to throw cash at 20 start-ups and only see 1 succeed – most of us can't afford that risk. The cliche of the "tech bro" and the real, problematic demographics of VC-backed companies are proof of this.

I don't want you to fail. We all make mistake along the way. By listening and honesty, we can try our best to avoid these mistakes from becoming failures.

Get your story straight

The first few times you tell someone about your business, you won't be very polished. I'm used to speaking in public, and I still felt like an awkward impostor for months when I spoke to people about Baltimore Rex.

You'll probably get a lot of gentle smiles and polite nods, but it's going to take time and practice to nail your pitch. Writing it down and rehearsing it in the mirror will only get you so far. Get out in front of real, breathing humans and get comfortable talking about what you're building. Oh, and don't forget that you're talking with real, breathing humans. A tight "elevator pitch" is nice to have, but people have conversations – work on that.

Have your shit together

It's grown-up time. If you're starting a business, you need to treat it like one. That means doing the paperwork and/or hiring the professional services that will do it for you. Create the legal entity that best fits your business. If you have intellectual property that needs protection, do it. Set up the bank account and the invoicing and receipts systems you'll need to keep your books and taxes manageable. Do whatever you need to do to become insanely organized (there are entire websites devoted to this).

If you are doing any kind of client services, yes, YOU NEED A CONTRACT. Don't take it on faith, even if you've known someone you're working with for a long time. The main thing your contract will do is describe what should happen if something goes wrong – and occasionally things just go wrong. Likewise, be very cautious about how much you invest in a project or a deal before they've signed on the dotted line. Of course, you want to do everything you can to impress a client, but there are people out there that will take advantage of your hunger, and others that just don't have the time to worry about whether or not you're getting paid. Yes, I've been burnt.

Here's the good news: a lot of this stuff is easier and cheaper than you think to set up. If you don't think so, maybe you should reconsider your plans. Many accountants and lawyers are often willing to speak with you informally for free if you're just getting started (in hopes that you'll come back later).

Take care of yourself

Maybe you can "crush it" for 18 hours straight, sustained on pizza, Red Bull, and dubstep. Most of us can't. Don't feel bad about this. You have to take care of yourself by getting the sleep, diet, exercise and emotional support you need to perform at your highest level. I think this is one of the trickiest parts of starting something new, and one that gets the least attention – especially since we have certain cultural ideas about how entrepreneurs should look and act.

I have cerebral palsy and walk with forearm crutches. This disability has always been something I've had to manage – but it has given me ongoing awareness of my physical condition. If I don't take time to stretch daily, I'll be in real pain and unable to focus. Likewise, bad eating, poor sleep and other habits that are easy to pick up when the stress piles on have a noticeable impact.

Burnout is a real danger to your well-being, so be on the lookout. No, it's not always possible to take care of yourself as well as you should, but even little changes can make a huge difference.

You can't go it alone

People like to point out that entrepreneurship is an isolating endeavor. It is. Even if you're going into something with partners, doubt and stress are mostly lonely, internal battles.

You have to push past that and find people you can share your trouble and triumph with. I regret not having more mentors when I started last year, but I've found some great ones along the way. A solid peer group of other entrepreneurs and like-minded people is also revitalizing. This is why Startup Soirée is an incredible addition to the local community. I've already learned so much from speaking with other attendees, and I'm continually impressed by the creativity, determination, and lived experience of those around me.

You're also going to need all the support you can get from family and friends. I could not imagine starting Baltimore Rex without the support, patience, good humor, and motivation of my wife, AZ.

I hope you feel as fortunate as I do to be able to start a business.

- Daric Snyder

FOLLOW Baltimore Rex & Daric Snyder on Twitter


Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

For those of us who didn’t start out in the entrepreneurial world, this was the dreaded question on every single job interview. 

For those of us who are entrepreneurs and own our own businesses, I’m sure we ask this question on a weekly basis of our employees and potential employees.

I get it.  We all need to have a vision, have short term and long term goals, and ultimately portray the “entrepreneurial spirit” and attract talent that complements our vision.

However…

I think this is the dumbest question to ever ask because there is never a right answer. The talent I want to attract as a business owner is someone who answers the question with…

“I want your job. I want to start my own company and be a startup success.”

But then, if someone does answer the question that way, how do you make the justification to invest time, money, and mentorship into that person?

So why do we ask this question? What is our reason and purpose? Is it simply to get to know that person on a deeper level? Is it to understand someone’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivations? If the answer is yes, then I challenge you all to try for just one month to change the question to this.

“In the past 5 years, what have you done and what has happened in your life to you get you to where you are now? “

Because now you’re not just asking them a question, we’re are making them take action and reflect on their actions!

By changing the question in such a simple way you will instantly get a deeper understanding of who they are, where they come from, how hard they work, what their passions are, and what motivates them.

So, I took it upon myself to practice what I preach. Here are the Top 5 Moments in the past 5 years of my life that have gotten me to where I am today. 

And the funny thing is…

Had you asked me 5 years ago, “Where do I see myself in 5 years?”, none of these moments below would have come out of my mouth, because the truth is, you never know where life is going to take you. I’m not saying don’t have a vision, don’t have goals, don’t have purpose. I am saying you can’t predict what will happen to you 5 years from now. I do feel it’s important to plan, to set goals, to take the right steps and actions each day to build up to where you envision your life in 5 years. But for the sake of job interviews and acquiring the right talent for your company, I think it’s time to throw out the dreaded question. 

1.     Little Joe O’Connor came into the world. Exactly 5 years ago tomorrow on March 14, 2010, my nephew, Joey, was born and I became an aunt. Not having children of my own, this is as close as I’ve come. My sister is my best friend in the entire world. I would do absolutely ANYTHING for this woman and when she came to me 5 years and 8 months ago to tell me she was pregnant (out of wedlock but with an amazing man) at 23, you would of thought my world was over. Who was I going to go out with? Who was I going to double date with? Who was not going to be living in a Baltimore City apartment with me like I had envisioned?

God. How selfish. How immature. Having my nephew and having a sister that I look up to every single day for the mother and woman she is, is the best thing that has ever happened to me in the last 5 years.  I learned a lesson in how being selfish will get you nowhere in this world and how sometimes the most unexpected things in life are the greatest gifts

2. Big Joe O’Connor left this world.  In August of 2013, little Joey’s dad, my sister’s fiancé, and one of my very best friends in this entire world, left this world. It was awful, unexpected, horrible,  sad, and it still is. But you can’t cry forever. You find strength inside of you that you never knew  you had. You use these moments to fuel the fire inside you to be the most amazing person and  you can be. You use these moments to realize “What in the world am I waiting for?” Get out  there and make something of this life - this short life we have here.

3.     I found a business partner in a friend. In 2011,   after spending 6 years working alongside a good friend, a past roommate, and amazing teammate, my business partner, Rachel Robinson and I started a dream of building our own event company. We were in San Francisco, CA running an event for the corporate company we worked for and although life was good, we had great paychecks, and traveled the world together, we realized we both had a vision that was much greater than where we were. After much more talk, a few cocktails, and sharing our “Where do we see ourselves in 5 years” dreams, Intrinsic Events was born. 

4.     The Ultimatum. A little over a year ago, the corporate company Rachel and I worked for gave us an ultimatum. Although we were always proactive and transparent in our life goals with this company, and were often complimented on our “entrepreneurial spirit”, it became apparent that Intrinsic Events was our passion. We were challenged on our loyalty and priority with the company and ultimately given a choice. Either stop doing Intrinsic Events or get out.  Needless to say, we got out and never looked back.

5.     Today. Reflecting on the Top 5 moments in the past 5 years today is one of the greatest exercises I have ever done personally and professionally. Putting it out there for the world to read is a different story. But as my beloved Michael Jackson would say, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change”. So that’s what I did, that’s what I’m doing and I hope that we can all make a change to stop the dreaded question of “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

My Challenge

Please take just 5 minutes today and reflect on the Top 5 moments in the past 5 years thatgot you to where you are today and share it with this amazing community of entrepreneurs we’ve built here by commenting below. I promise you will be so happy you did. 

 

Action vs. Inaction: Gleaming The Dadosphere

Passion

I've got these two boys in my life. Each day I wake up to their crazy personalities. Each day they breathe life into me. I hope everyday to inspire them. I want my children to have experiences each day that drive their passion and invigorate their most dire impulse.

We start every single morning in my house with music and glasses of water (At least for Dad). There are few things in this world as amazing as watching my one year old melt down to that Jessie J/Arianna Grande/Nicki jam Bang, Bang. I mean seriously, my jaw = the floor. These kids tho.

Practice

How do we shape our children to be happy and healthy human beings? I think we do it by practice. Few things are perfect out of the gate. I mean shit, I made it through my 20's by the skin of my teeth and only because my wife, then GF, saved my ass left and right. I was hella lost. But, you wouldn't know it now. I got my shit together, I got my hustle on. Well, mostly.

I'm trying to teach myself how to become a supportive role-model in my children's lives. I know that I don't automatically become a great dad. It's going to take hard work and perseverance. The amount of times I've shaken my head at my own stubbornness is appalling but I keep moving forward. I keep trying. I get better.

You see every time I invest more deeply in them, I learn that much more about me. It's like I'm creating the Win/Win. Our interactions help us both mutually grow together like vines tightly entwining themselves. I'm supporting them; they're supporting me. 


“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
— ― Aristotle

Empathy 

Our world feels crazy these days but I'm fairly certain those are just the sentiments of an adult gaining perspective, responsibility and fear. It's tempting to believe that our world is devolving around us. It's not. What's important to remember is that we each play an integral part in the collective march forward. Growth. Progress. Evolution. 

I hope to instill in my boys a deep sense of empathy for the world that will help them become so strong. I know they'll have challenges in their lives that I cannot overcome for them but I want to do my best to help them start off on the right foot. My children will be tasked with helping to fix the problems we've created with Race, Class and our Environment. I can't help but feel they'll do much better in the face of those challenges with a strong ability to empathize with the world around them. 

Honesty

It's important to say how you feel. To say what you mean. There's a little fire that dies inside of me when I cannot honestly express my position. Call it the irascible tendencies of the spirit but in short the inability to commit to the truth drive me nuts. 


I learned so much in my life from not being true to myself. It took a long time and I still have a lot of work to do, but it's only been recent that I've found the clarity to know what I'm really about and how to represent it. I only wish I had learned more quickly to take confidence in my hunch about myself. I hope to show my children how to raise their ideas with conviction and stay the course with conviction. I want them to understand the position of the naysayer very early on because I believe that knowledge presents a view of the forest for the trees. 

No legacy is so rich as honesty.
— William Shakespeare

Working Hard

Work Hard, Play Hard, Work Hard. I learned a lesson very early in my life and it wasn't by being told; it was by example. I have a 99 year old grandfather. He's my Dzia Dzia (that's Polish for grandfather). From as young an age as I can remember my Dzia played a critical role in my life. He was definitely a great grandfather in the traditional sense; hugs and kisses, sweets and candy, hi-jinx; but he was also so much more.

It took me until just recently to start to see how much of my grandfather I embody everyday. He was a self-made man by all accounts and measures. Whether it was opening a gas station on his property, teaching himself to be an ace mechanic, flying a plane or winning a boxing title; my Dzia has never lacked in ideas or drive. 

I think growing up I always took for granted how determined I was to do things my way. How much I was willing to go out on a limb to realize a crazy idea. It wasn't until I got into my mid 20's that I realized many of those traits I possessed weren't things that everyone had. In fact those traits were seemingly found few and far between. Thank you Dzia.

As my grandfather continues his ascent to 100 years (Sto Lat) I find myself searching our conversations for all of the details. I need those tips and ideas. I need his perspective now more than ever. After all, I have to make sure that wisdom and grace is transitioned through to my boys as well. 

Grand Finale

All of you people out there! I'm talking to you! Take time with everyone and teach as you go; teach as a way of life. I guarantee the value you redeem from your efforts will outshine anything you could've done with your time. In the process you'll help someone along, help create a better place to live and help to keep everyone moving in the right direction.

Be sure to leave a comment below and tell me what you think! Also, check out the killer film by ClickSpark of my Dzia Dzia. It'll make you smile. I promise.
 

Events: Why They Are Important For Your Company's Growth

The WHAT, WHY, & WHERE surrounding your company’s event marketing strategy 

“SHOULD WE HAVE THAT EVENT AGAIN THIS YEAR?”

As an Event Planner, I see various companies struggle year in and year out over this question. The question as to whether or not their company should include events as part of their yearly marketing plan.

Having been on the corporate side of things as an in house marketing/event professional and now being on the business owner side running an event management company, if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that events should ALWAYS be a part of your company’s marketing strategy.

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR PEEPS

Bringing it back to Marketing 101, we all know a company’s marketing strategy always includes product, price, place, and promotion. But what these strategy plans often lack is a major “P” – PEOPLE.

Marketing is all about the people, whether it’s your employees, your executives, or your customers. These people are the ones who drive the other 4 P’s of a marketing strategy. Therefore, it should never be a question as to whether or not events should take place, let alone be a critical part of your marketing strategy.

EVENT STRATEGY & ROI

Meetings and events create value to stakeholders. This is accomplished by influencing the behavior of your event participants. If the event doesn’t make participants do something they would otherwise not have done, there is no value.

Hosting events is the best way for your business to engage your clients, motivate your employees, connect with prospects, get your brand in front of the right people, and ultimately create strategic relationships that lead to increased growth.

Even if you don’t have a strategic events strategy built into your current marketing plan, it’s never too late to start small, host events the right way by hiring a professional, and work with that professional to measure the ROI surrounding your events.

READY TO PLAN AN EVENT?

Outlined below are key questions to consider before implementing an events strategy, no matter what the purpose, size or budget. I’ve also included a simplified breakdown of event types, the goals/purpose of each event type, and some of my company’s, Intrinsic Events,  top locations to host these events.

Before you develop your strategic event plan, you must ask yourself these critical questions:

1.     What goals does our company want to achieve this year?  

2.     What events will assist our company in achieving these goals?

3.     What is the purpose of each event?

4.     What are the determining success factors for each event and how will they be measured?

5.     What professional resources does our company have in place to execute these events and measure their ROI? 


READY TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL EVENT STRATEGY?

Contact Intrinsic Events at Events@IntrinsicEvents.co

 

TOP 10 EVENTS YOUR COMPANY SHOULD BE HOSTING 

 

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

We need to talk.”

Let’s be honest.  We’ve all broken up with someone - Friends. Clients. Significant Others. Peers. Mentors. Vendors. Suppliers. Service Providers. Partners. Employees.

OR we’ve all broken up with something – PC’s. Banks. Office Space. Software. Happy Hour. Coffee.

No easy conversation ever started with, “We need to talk”.  However, we’ve all heard it or said it at one time or another in our lives. And the truth is, breaking up is hard to do. It inspires weakness, vulnerability and procrastination in all of us.

Even if you’ve done your due diligence prior to a breakup in terms of talking to mentors, weighing the pros and cons, crying to your friends, or facing the cold hard truth, the exit strategy out of any relationship can be brutal. Even without contracts and money at stake.

There are times when it may be blindingly obvious to everyone around you that it’s time to walk away from a relationship or partnership, yet in true entrepreneur fashion, you are still so stubborn that you need to come to the conclusion on your own terms.

So how do you know? First, simply ask yourself the following questions:

1.     Have you lost respect for this partner?

2.     Are your needs not being met in this relationship?

3.     Are you only staying in this relationship because of a contract?

4.     Is this relationship causing difficulty or danger to your brand or business?

5.     Do you dread meetings with this partner?

6.     Are you constantly keeping score in this partnership? Are you less forgiving if this partner doesn’t hold up to their end of the agreement?

7.     Has this partnership stopped being fun & collaborative?

8.     Is this partnership bringing out the worst in me?

9.     Do your long term goals or business plans no longer match up?

If you’ve answered yes to ANY of these questions, it may be time to call it quits.

But how?

Just do it. Stop procrastinating. Stop having self- doubt. Stop second-guessing your gut.

Loyalty, cooperation, and commitment to work through difficult times are all admirable qualities in any entrepreneur but it’s important to be cognizant that these traits can also work against us to prolong the right decision and hinder growth in our business.

So just do it, put your big girl panties on and remember the following tips for breaking up.

1.     Keep Calm and Never Attack the other person’s character. You are making this choice so there is no reason to be hostile or angry. It’s also important to remember that the other person may react with hostility and anger so it’s important to never attack them with your reasons as to why you are ending the relationship.

2.     You are breaking up for YOU and what’s best for YOU – not the other person. Yes, it may hurt to see someone confused or upset, but that’s life.

3.     KISS. (Keep It Short & Simple) No one needs a long drawn out goodbye. Simply state your reasons, avoid vague comments, don’t finger point, be polite, and move on. After all, haven’t you spent enough time investing in a relationship that isn’t helping you achieve your goals?

4.     Time Does Not Heal. Growth Heals. – If nothing else, remember this. There are times when we have doubts about our decision to end a relationship and think of turning back. People often say time heals, but it doesn’t. It’s the growth that happens after a significant turning point in our lives that heals us. Trust me, I’ve seen it first hand in life, love and business.

Reflection & Action

In everything we do an entrepreneurs, it’s important to reflect on our decisions and the impact they had on our business. If you have recently gone through a breakup,  in any capacity, I challenge you to this simple exercise.

Answer this question, type it out, and save as a draft.

“If I could get an email from myself 10 years from now, what advice might it have?” 

 

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