Start focusing on your strengths

Do you know what your strengths are? Most people don’t so you shouldn’t feel bad.

I was one of those people just a few years ago. You know, one of those people working in areas that I really sucked at only to frustrate the hell out of the people around me.

Yup, that was me, until I decided to become obsessed with knowing and understanding my strengths. I was sick of working in areas that I flat-out wasn’t good at. And for that matter, now looking back, I hated anyways.

You see this all the time….especially with younger people – they are trying to figure out what they are good at. Or, what they want to do with their life. So, what do they do, they try this, try that, they move around, but the question becomes, do they ever take the time to really understand what their strengths are and how to apply them? No.

Try this sometime. Ask your friends if they know what there strengths are. It’s fun to hear their responses – most of the time it’s made up on the spot and complete crap.

After a couple of failures in my life, I became obsessed with understanding my strengths and weaknesses.You screw up a couple of times so bad that it hurts a bunch of people, you will reflect and ask yourself some tough questions.

This lead me to take it upon myself to take every test and assessment I could find. I even hired some professionals that do this for a living. I wanted to better understand myself. What were my strengths? What was I good at? Where should I be focusing my time?

When you find your strengths and embrace and focus on them daily, it will change your life….forever.

Beyond taking the tests and assessments, I went out and spoke to other people about how they found their strengths and how they were applying them – it was inspiring to hear.

If you are interested in learning your strengths, here are three really great assessments that you can take. You can either take them online or you can reach out to the companies for other options.

  1. Strengths based leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. If you buy the book there is an access code in the back to take the test online. The test consists of about 170 questions.
  2. Myers Briggs tests which are always interesting. The essence of the theory is that much seemingly random variation in the behavior is actually quite orderly and consistent, being due to basic differences in the ways individuals prefer to use their perception and judgment.
  3. Predictive Index was really great because of the teacher I had. He was very patient and went through everything step by step with me.

John Maxwell, a very well know leader calls this filling in your Gaps, you can read his blog here. Once you understand your strengths you can start filling in your Gaps and start winning.

You can’t win unless you fill in your gaps.

Too often we try and be everything or we focus on things we suck at. Be honest with yourself and let someone fill in the gap.

Today, I focus on my strengths: competition, activator, futuristic, input, and achiever. Outside of these, I fill in the gaps.

Here is why I believe that it is so important to find your strengths and start applying them today:

1. It helps you to focus on what you are good at and stop trying to be something that you’re not.

2. If you suck at Golf, just do it for fun, not as a career or a position.

3. You can’t play every position on the team – you need other players to fill in where you are weak.

4. If you want to win the game, you need to know where you stand.

Keeping in mind the above four points, and applying what you learn should allow you to experience similar results. If you find that you are still struggling, it might be a good idea to reach out to other leaders and discuss how they are applying what they have learned.

I will tell you this as well, this is not an overnight fix.

Once you find your strengths, it will take time to start applying them. You might even find that you are leading in an area in the company that doesn’t fit with you. Maybe your down the wrong career path. You might even be chasing the wrong things. Whatever it is, just remember that anything good takes time.

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How about you? 

Do you know what your strengths are?  Are you focusing on them?

 

Look For People Not Opportunities

Look for people not opportunities. Why? Because every opportunity is attached to a person. When you think about opportunities where do they come from? People.

Opportunities start with people. They don’t just come floating out of the sky and slap you in the face – you have to go searching for them.

The next time you start searching for an opportunity – one that gives you a nice return, start by searching for a person.

How do I approach opportunities? I look for talented people. For the last 5-6 years, I’ve made it my personal goal to connect and meet with at least 3-5 new people per month. I’m intentional about this and build it into my calendar. I also set aside the time, energy, and money to pre-commit myself to actually making this happen.

Yes, it does require a bunch of my resources,  but the return has always been greater than the actual investment – not short-term, but long.

For me, my long-term strategy and goal is to invest, partner, and build incredible startups. What do I need to do this? People and relationships. I need a network of very talented folks that I can bring in to help me do these things.

Again, if you want to build anything great and of scale, you need people.

And, when push comes to shove, don’t give up on connecting with new people – take the long view and do it right. Relationships — whether it be romantic, friendship, or professional – take a lot of time time to develop. And if you rush them, you end up hurting something that could have had great potential.

Don’t take it from me, go ask around. Anyone successful will tell you that they took time to connect with new people and without them, they would not be where they are today.

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How about you? 

Are you making time to connect with new people?

 

Get out there and scuff up your shield

As you know, or as you are learning, failure is a very important part of your journey. Yes, I know I’ve blogged a lot about failure lately, but it’s only because of how important failure really is.

All successful entrepreneurs fall at times and then climb their ass right back out of a heap of crap only to be better, stronger, and more ready for the next challenge – I know that this is true for me. How about you?

The key to failing is getting right back up. You can’t stay down long and cry like a little bitch. You have to jump right back up and flaunt it – show off your scars and wounds so that other people can learn from them as well.

What matters in the end is that your shield is scuffed and beaten up because it shows that you were willing to fight. If you come back with a clean and shinny shield that just shows that you’re a pussy.

If you want to help and transform others, don’t talk about your arrival, talk about your journey, your battles, your wounds, and your redemption.

You hear about people with setbacks – I’ve had mine. Setback are awesome! Why? Because they are opportunities for clarity, humility, growth, and wisdom. You learn your strengths and you learn your weaknesses. You learn to ask for help. And you learn who you need to win the fight.

 

Find a mentor that kicks your ass

Finding a mentor is hard, but finding a mentor that tells you what the fu** is up is even harder. You want someone who is going to tell you when an idea sucks, a team member needs to be kicked to the curb, or you’re just making stupid decisions based on emotion. A sissy mentor doesn’t do you any good, right? No. You need a mentor that scares you.

I think the notion of having a caring and supportive mentor who is always there to hold your hand blows. There is no better time then when you are a rookie to get punched in the face by a good mentor – these times will define you.

Honestly, I wished I had a good mentor that would have said, “Danny, what the fu** are you doing? Who is this worthless person you hired? What are you thinking? Pull it together you idiot.” Even though these things sound harsh, most of the time we need to hear them.

It’s better to face things now, than later when the stakes are a lot higher.

Here’s what you do, you go out and find the most qualified and talented mentor, coach, or manager you can, and ask them to not go easy on you. You tell them to be tougher than they have ever been. And, you don’t run away crying like a little bitch when things get tough – you run straight towards it.

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How about you? 

Do you have mentor that kicks your ass into shape?

 

The Do’s and Don’ts to Making Stuff and Things Happen

1. Don’t make it so difficult to brainstorm a good idea. It’s not that hard. Simply.

2. Stop forming boards and committees that wreck ideas and projects. If your board or committee is not adding value and challenging you to draw outside the lines and take risks, then get rid of it.

3. Make your team lean and mean so that you can actually get shit done. The more people, the more time, the less stuff and things you will be able to get done.

4. Don’t make products that suck. Make products that knock people’s socks off. Make stuff people really want. Make stuff that changes people lives.

5. Get stuff done…..on time. If you have to work around the clock to get it done, then that is just what you have to do. It is what it is. Deal with it.

6. Put time pressure on yourself and your team. Put in place deadlines. Sometimes make it urgent. All of these things will drive you to get more done.

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What would you add? What is on your list of do’s and don’ts? 

 

What makes for a bad client?

I just want to say that I am pumped about all the great companies and clients that I’m working with right now. It just feels good.

It hasn’t always been this way though. I’ve had my fair share of bad ones over years.

What makes a bad client

Graphic by: Kickin’ Up Pixels

Ever wonder what makes a bad client?

Here are my thoughts on this: 

  • They live to micromanage and control the process. This is especially frustrating when it’s the creative process
  • They constantly delay approvals and have a hard time committing
  • They steal your soul and stomp on it
  • They won’t own anything and they blame the whole shebang on you
  • They think that their high-touch participation is helping things
  • They constantly derail the process de-motivating teams and leading to uninspired work
  • They consistently make changes
  • They regularly move backburner items into action steps causing the project to slug away

If you are experiencing any of the above with a client, I suggest that you revisit the contract and see what you can do to get out of it. Bad clients can run your business into the ground. They suck the life out of you and take time away that you could be working with stellar clients.

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Anything to add?

What makes a bad client?

 

Where are you in your priorities?

After God, who comes second in your life? Is it you? I sure hope so.

I know, this sounds selfish, but it’s the best advice and change I’ve ever put forth in my life.

The reality is, if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you tend to anyone else: your wife, children, company, team, startup, etc.

For me, if I take care of myself first it allows me to be mentally, emotionally, and physically available for others. It allows me to better serve and lead those around me.

Here are a few things to think about:

  • If you don’t take care of yourself mentally and participate in either prayer, meditation, or something of this nature, how can you have a clear mind to share with others.
  • If you don’t exercise and eat right, what would happen if you became very sick? You wouldn’t be much help to anyone around you now would you?
  • If you don’t get your rest, you won’t have the energy you need to get through your day.
  • If you don’t take the time to read and write, then you can’t have the intellect to contribute to others.
  • If you don’t take time to reflect and heal from your emotional wounds, you end up reacting and looking like a fool. It’s easy to make these mistakes. Instead, you should be in a position to teach, inspire and add value. How do you do this? I think counseling and therapy can be highly beneficial.

When you start taking care of yourself “first” then you can start taking care of those around you. I am know expert, nonetheless I am strive everyday to be better.

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What about you? 

Are you putting yourself first (after God)?

 

Where you invest your time will determine your destiny

Where are you investing all your time? Might be worth taking a hard look at because where you invest all your time could just be your destiny.

Where do you invest your time

In fact, it is your destiny and you might not even know it. Time is the most valuable asset you got so you better be using it wisely and paying attention to where you spend it.

Here are a few truths to follow: 

1. Whatever it is, if you work hard at it day in and day out you will eventually be good at it. It’s just how things work. Focus, work your tail off, and good things will happen.

2. If you suck at something it’s usually not all the fun, right? I mean, that is why I quit golfing…because I suck at it. I can ride a dirtbike, but Golf, yeah I suck. Now, if I played golf often, I would eventually get good and probably start to love it. It all comes down to where you spend your time.

3. Think of something you’re good at. Do you enjoy it? Well yeah, why wouldn’t you. The key is finding something you enjoy and overtime you will become more and more passionate about it.

4. So, if you are good at something, work hard at it. Invest time. Work harder than anyone else so that you can excel and be the best that you can be.

 

Success: 9 things you can do daily

As a leader you must break down barriers, climb over walls, and press forward….all the time. It’s not easy, and if it were, everyone would be doing it.

If success is something you desire, here are 9 things you can do daily: 

1. Put the pedal to the metal

Everyday you wake up, it’s up to you push it as hard as you can. Don’t let up or someone will sneak right by. You have to be aggressive and you can’t play around. People who put the pedal to the metal always cross the finish line first.

2. Be aware of yourself

The first person you need to be in touch with is yourself. If you’re not in touch with yourself, you’re not going to be able to be in touch with anyone else. Take the time to tap into you – It will be the best time you ever spent.

3. Move on

Don’t sit around waiting for opportunities to come to you, go where the opportunities are – they might not be happening where you are, but they are happening. Move to a big city, go where your customers are, move to a place that offers more resources. Don’t sit around waiting for an opportunity to happen. Move on.

4. Channel your Emotion

Control your emotions before they control you. Emotions can ruin you. They will wipe you out every chance they get. Don’t let emotion get in the way of you winning. You need to be emotionally tough. Train your emotions so that when you go out there you are ready.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Scrap

Don’t let people push you around or take advantage of you. I don’t care how young you are, if you are a female, it doesn’t matter. Be a leader and be respectful, but don’t take shit from anyone. I don’t care if it is a VC, a partner, friend, you need to stand up be a man or woman and lay it on the line. People might think you’re a prick at first, but in the end when everyone succeeds they will respect and appreciate you. 

6. Don’t put up with office politics

To build a great culture of people who innovate takes time, energy, and obviously the right people. That is why when office politics pop up you need to take care of them right away. Don’t let them linger or they can wipe out all your hard work. Nip them in the but as soon as they happen and let your team know that you’re not willing to put up with crap like that. Culture is key and anything that stands in its way should be thrown out. 

7. Take Care of Your People

People are the key to your company’s success. Without the people your left there standing around like an idiot. That is why you take care of your people. Take an interest in their lives, their families, and their hobbies. Love on them. And make sure that they know that you care. If you can do this, you will always have people willing to work their tails off for you.

8. Say no

A simple word that is hard to say, NO. Many people have a hard time saying it. I do. The sooner you can get good at saying this word, the better off you’re going to be….in every area of your life.

9. Take Risks

Risks are part of life and success. If you’re not willing to take risks, then don’t plan on making it very far. The greatest feats where accomplished by leaders who choose to take the biggest risks.