Personal Branding: It’s More Than a Buzz Phrase!

Wikipedia defines personal branding as the conscious and intentional effort to create and influence public perception of an individual by positioning them as an authority in their industry, elevating their credibility, and differentiating themselves from the competition, to ultimately advance their career, increase their circle of influence, and have a larger impact.

The process of personal branding involves finding your uniqueness, building a reputation on the things you want to be known for, and then allowing yourself to be known for them. Ultimately, the goal is to create something that conveys a message and that can be monetized.

Whether it was described as we know it today or not, personal branding has been around for many years. Personal branding essentially showcases an individual’s image to the target audiences they’re trying to attract. From kings to world leaders to politicians to movie stars, each developed a personal brand that became the “packaging” of their own persona.

For instance, Babe Ruth. Besides being a world-class baseball player, The Babe, as he was affectionately known was loved as an everyday type of guy, a friend at the local gin mill or a pal at work. He loved to drink and eat, but he was a professional athlete despite being significantly overweight.

He loved kids and was often seen talking with them. He visited with sick children in hospitals, made bold promises, and lived up to them. He was larger than life. Books were written about him. Movies were made and even a candy bar was named after him. The Babe certainly had; most likely unknowingly developed a personal brand.

Of course, not many will see their personal brand identified as a nickname, or of a term of endearment like Babe Ruth or other ballplayers of yesteryear – The Mick (Mickey Mantle), The Splendid Splinter (Ted Williams), Say Hey Kid (Willie Mays), Hammerin’ Hank (Hank Aaron), just a few that immediately come to mind. They were heroes of the day. I can’t even begin to imagine what their personal brands would be like today in the Digital Age!

Okay, I know. Not everyone reading this today knows about these individuals. I’d like to think I’m not that old that many might not even recognize their names. But that’s a story for another day. So, let’s shift gears. Do you recognize the name, Gary Vaynerchuk, or as he is often referred to, Gary Vee?

To me, Gary Vaynerchuk epitomizes personal branding today. From his sometime harsh language to his extremely casual appearance, he is definitely not the picture of what many would perceive to be a businessman and certainly not a successful one. Yet, he’s one of the most successful businesspeople of our time! Why? I’d say to a large extent, it’s due to the way he developed his personal brand.

Of course, he is brilliant. But it’s his personal brand that has taken his brilliance to the level that he is very well known, is in high demand for speaking engagements, and is all over the digital space. From his podcasts and videos to his own blogs to articles written about him, it’s hard not to know, or at least be aware of Gary Vaynerchuk.

It was Gary Vaynerchuk who first introduced me to personal branding when I read his book, Crush It! To me, it’s the primer for everything that should come after it, much the same as our first-grade reader was back in elementary school. So, as we focus on personal branding this week at Acceler8Success Cafe, we’ll start with Gary Vaynerchuk’s great book. It’ll be our foundation as we take a deep dive into personal branding.

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I’ve recently re-read for the umpteenth time this fascinating book. He has posted, tweeted, and videoed himself, and his business, to unbelievable success in a very short period of time. The book is a relatively short read, so there should be no excuses for not reading it asap, as it can only help you improve yourself and your business, and your personal brand. The following is directly from one of the tabs from the book’s original website. Upon reading the book, I’m sure you’ll further explore Crush It! just as I do quite often.

Everything has changed. The social media revolution has irreversibly changed the way we live our lives and conduct our business. There are billions of dollars in advertising moving online, waiting to be claimed by whoever can build the best content and communities. Despite this change, most people keep working at jobs that don’t make them happy and businesses continue to ignore the major marketing and public relations benefits that can be found online.

Myth #1

I’m not passionate about something sexy or popular like wine so these lessons don’t apply to me.

The internet has drastically decreased the costs of building communities around niche subjects, allowing for even the most obscure subjects to draw enough eyeballs to command advertising attention. Starting a video blog about tortilla chips may seem farfetched until Doritos gives you a call and offers $40,000 a year to sponsor and advertise on your blog.

Myth #2

My business already has a Twitter account and a Facebook page, we’re set in the social media department.

This is the equivalent of claiming twenty years ago that just because your business bought a TV spot and a few ads in the newspaper, you didn’t need to pay attention to your advertising department. Social media isn’t about joining in, it’s about being involved.

Myth #3

I’m happy at my job so this book is irrelevant to me.

First of all, congratulations on finding work that makes you happy! However, the lessons in this book are valuable to anyone, regardless of their employment status. Crush It will show you how to utilize high level and platform specific social media and marketing strategies that will improve your work. It will also show you how to build a personal brand so that even if you’re forced to leave your job, a situation that’s especially relevant today, you’ll be able to easily find employment elsewhere in a field you’re passionate about.

Myth #4

I need to quit my job to take advantage of this book’s entrepreneurial lessons.

While the entrepreneurial strategies in this book do take time, it’s completely reasonable to start the effort as an after-work project to build up until you’re able to replace your current income with the income from your online presence. While you may have to fall behind on the current season of Lost or let your Madden 2010 game suffer, because you’ll be doing something you love you won’t mind putting in the extra effort.

In Crush It, Gary Vaynerchuk shows how anyone can build a career around what they’re passionate about. He also delivers both high-level and platform specific strategy and analysis, allowing you to take advantage of the current business environment while preparing you to succeed as it changes and evolves.

This book isn’t interested in making unrealistic promises while glossing over the work involved. Making a living by building content around your passion isn’t simple and it doesn’t happen overnight. What it is, however, is fulfilling and in most cases just as profitable, if not more so, than your previous job.

Furthermore, a business can’t just pay lip service to social media and expect it to return results. The transparency and accountability inherent in its structure necessitates a comprehensive and dedicated strategy in order to reap its tremendous benefits.

By combining practical analysis and strategy with the same passion and humor that’s made Gary one of the most in demand keynote speakers in the U.S. as well as network television’s go to wine expert, Crush It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand and harness the future of business and work.

Learn: Why social media has evened the playing field, destroying the “gate-keepers” who had previously dictated the distribution of content.

Learn: How to beat unemployment and create wealth-building opportunities by building and maintaining a personal brand.

Learn: Why storytelling is the most important business concept in the current marketplace.

Learn: How you can build an online business around your passion without quitting your day job.

Learn: Why Twitter and Facebook are just tools and not a social media strategy.

Learn: How to take advantage of the half-billion dollars in advertising that are moving to the internet

Learn: Why transparency and being true to yourself are now winning marketing formulas

Learn: How to build and maintain an online community around your passion and brand

Learn: Strategies for turning attention into money

Learn: Why the legacy element of the internet era is so underrated

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Weekly Review May 15-21

Sunday at Acceler8Success Cafe is the time for looking back over the past week. It’s a time for review as with so much going on at Acceler8Success Cafe I know it’s easy to miss a newsletter or two. Possibly my Question of the Week slipped by without you noticing, or an announcement I may have made just seemingly got lost amongst the busy news feed.

Just like an experience at your local cafe, I really want Acceler8Success Cafe to be conveniently located when you desire or need to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and catch up on some reading. My goal is for Acceler8Success Cafe to be your virtual cafe. A place where you may frequently visit to enjoy a few minutes to yourself. I’d like the experience to be memorable by providing learning opportunities, by presenting a different perspective & insight, by spurring thought & reflection, by encouraging interaction, and by spotlighting topics that, frankly, may not be as front and center as they should or need to be.

Acceler8Success Cafe is open for business seven days a week. For the benefit of current & aspiring entrepreneurs, this daily newsletter is delivered each morning. As a way to jumpstart the week ahead, a weekly review is delivered each Sunday morning listing the articles you might have missed during the previous week. My goal is to provide an opportunity for you to begin the new week informed and with ideas that possibly could accelerate your success.

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Adapting to Change; a Moving Target

One key to success in a business owner’s life is to learn from mistakes. Although the mistakes may not have been intentional, they’re real, nonetheless.

Overcoming Fear

As Mental Health Awareness Month continues, I wanted to be sure we keep it front and center. As such, I’ve given it some personal thought this morning as I found myself reflecting upon the past few years and where things are today. What should I be doing moving forward? What lessons have I learned? How do I address my own personal fears?

Do Your Homework BEFORE Buying a Franchise!

Ray Kroc once said, “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” But is success guaranteed when buying a franchise? Absolutely not so please do your homework BEFORE buying a franchise.

Poker & Entrepreneurship: Games of Skill?

Thinking about poker and the skills necessary to win – whether in a neighborhood or professional game – has me also thinking about the skills entrepreneurs must develop and hone to succeed in their endeavors.

Question of the Week: What skills are necessary for today’s entrepreneur to succeed, and at a high level?

Franchise Success: It Takes More Than an Investment & Hard Work!

As detailed and comprehensive as a franchise system may be, it still is not enough for most franchisees to succeed without their own desire, drive and determination. And not just words.

Keeping our Servicemen AND Veterans Front of Mind on Armed Forces Day

Servicemen AND Veterans. We must meet our obligations to BOTH groups!

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” – George Washington

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If you’re interested in submitting an article for Acceler8Success Cafe, please let me know. Articles must be about entrepreneurship, franchising, small business ownership or anything related to these general topics. Please reach out to me here on LinkedIn or via email to paul@acceler8success.com. Thank you!

On the Lighter Side

As Entrepreneurs we tend to want to teach our children the lessons that we have learned. Sometimes this is confusing to them. One entrepreneur sat his four-year-old son down and said: “It’s time for your lesson.” What’s two plus two? The little boy said, “Two plus two is Six.” “No, son,” his father said, two plus two is not six. “Two plus two is four.” “I’m sorry, father,” said the little boy. “I thought we were negotiating.” © Copyright Mark W. Lund 2009

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“Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup, and ride that highway in the sky” America, “Lonely People” Listen at https://youtu.be/QYGvKc7Q1PU

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Keeping our Servicemen AND Veterans Front of Mind on Armed Forces Day

What is Armed Forces Day?

Armed Forces Day is not to be confused with Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day, which are celebrated this year on November 11th and May 30th respectively.

Armed Forces Day is an annual holiday that pays tribute to the men and women who serve across all six branches of the U.S. military. This year, it’s being celebrated on Saturday, May 21.

Some History

Saturday, May 20, 1950, marked the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It was the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, “President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.”

From The American Presidency Project, Proclamation 2873—Armed Forces Day, 1950: “I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim that Saturday, May 20, 1950, shall be known as Armed Forces Day; and I invite the Governors of the States, Territories, and possessions to issue proclamations calling for the celebration of that day in such manner as to honor the Armed Forces of the United States and the millions of veterans who have returned to civilian pursuits.”

A Proclamation on Armed Forces Day, 2022

On Armed Forces Day, we share our unending appreciation for the proud patriots who answer the call to serve, taking the sacred oath to defend our Constitution. The brave members of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard and Reserve forces represent the best of our Nation. Today and every day, we honor their immeasurable service on behalf of our grateful Nation. 

On this special day of tribute, we recognize the sacrifices that our service members and their families make on our behalf, and we recommit to our solemn duty to support them as they protect us. Our Nation has a sacred obligation to properly equip and prepare our troops when we send them in to harm’s way and to support them — both while they are serving abroad and when they return home — as well as their families, caregivers, and survivors. We must meet this obligation. 

Read the complete Proclamation at TheWhiteHouse.gov.

Servicemen AND Veterans. We must meet our obligations to BOTH groups!

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” – George Washington

Thank you to all who proudly serve (or have served) our country. Your sacrifices, as well as the sacrifices of your families continues to make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy the freedoms that are typically taken for granted.

We, as a nation MUST do a better job of not only recognizing our servicemen and women through special days and holidays, and on key remembrance dates, but also each and every day. We MUST do more for these individuals and their families. We MUST show our gratitude, and also our respect that we truly care.

Quite frankly, actions speak louder than words and we are just not doing enough! If one veteran is homeless, if just one veteran is unemployed and if one veteran’s family is doing without… then we must do more, not just to help but to provide them all they truly deserve!

Alarming Facts

As May is National Health Awareness Month, we should also keep front of mind how our veterans are affected by mental health issues. After all, our current servicemen will become veterans at some point.

A major, yet preventable health problem in the U.S. is suicide. Sadly, veterans comprise nearly a quarter of suicide deaths in the U.S. 

In 2017, a team of researchers looking at data on more than 4.8 million Veterans found that Veterans with substance use disorders had twice the risk of suicide compared to those without a substance use disorder.

Other commonly cited factors leading to increased suicide risk in veterans as well as other groups:

  • Anger, rage, mood swings, and episodes of anxiety and agitation.
  • Expressing feelings of having no reason to live
  • Increased alcohol and/or substance abuse.
  • Self-destructive and risky behaviors like driving while impaired.

The suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times higher than that of the general population.

Comparing the rate among female veterans to non-Veteran adult women, the rate is 2.5 times higher. From 2001 to 2014, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) reports an increased suicide rate among women using VA health services from 14.4 per 100,000 to 17.3 per 100,000.

Suicide rates are especially high among older veterans. According to the VA, in 2016, about 58% of all veterans committed suicide were among Veterans aged 55 years or older.

About 20 veterans commit suicide a day, and nearly three quarters are not under VA care.

Several other factors, in addition to distance, play a role in higher suicide rates. Certain emotional precursors may precede suicide events, including feelings of loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, and depression. In a summary of multiple studies, the VA found a variety of factors that may increase the risk of suicide, especially where multiple factors exist, some of these include:

  • Acute psychosocial stressors.
  • Having low cholesterol.
  • Higher doses of opioid medications for pain control.
  • Insomnia.
  • Mental health conditions like anxiety disorder, manic-depressive disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
  • Substance abuse, especially heavy binge drinking.

Connection between Substance Abuse and Veteran Suicide Risk

Alcohol and substance abuse can play a particularly and significant role in the increased risk of suicide. In fact, veterans that abuse drug or alcohol are over twice as likely to die by suicide than other veterans. In general, people abusing drugs and alcohol are more likely:

  • To be depressed.
  • To have social and financial problems.
  • To engage in impulsive and high-risk behaviors.

More than 1 in 10 veterans are diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Veterans are more likely to use alcohol; many are also have a greater risk opioid overdose.

Mental illness has strong links to suicide among veterans. While alcohol and drug abuse accounts for higher suicide risk, other co-occurring mental disorders are often associated between substance abuse and suicide.10 The more common mental disorders among veterans are PTSD and depression. For example, exposure to trauma or suffering a TBI while in the service can lead to increased risk of both substance abuse and PTSD or depression.

It is estimated that up to half of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have a mental health diagnosis.

Veterans coping with the dual diagnosis of substance abuse and PTSD are likely to have psychiatric and medical conditions, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • HIV
  • Liver disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Seizures

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with suicidal thoughts, help is available 24/7. National Suicide Prevention Hotline, call 1-800-273-8255. You can also text 838255 or chat online with a crisis counselor.

Resource for Veterans & Family Members

A special thanks to the American Addiction Centers for publishing the information shared above, and for keeping us aware of the mental health problems among veterans today.

Franchise Success: It Takes More Than an Investment & Hard Work!

Too often than not, franchisees are of the mindset that they’ve bought into a franchise system and just need to sit back and wait for the business to flow through their doors. Sometimes, it’s ignorance and perception that clouds their thoughts. Thinking that the brand name they invested in should be enough for instant business success at their location. But, most of the time, it’s just plain old arrogance that gets in the way.

It’s the arrogance of having committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a franchise as being the sole reason for success. It’s also the basis of feeling that with this level of financial commitment, the franchisor should be solely responsible for making sure franchisees succeed. Almost demanding a guarantee of success!

Well, it is not the franchisor’s sole responsibility, under any circumstances, for making sure that franchisees succeed. Sure, the franchisor must provide franchisees with a proven system and field-tested tools, that when utilized diligently and effectively, should provide them with the foundation to succeed.

But, it’s just that, a foundation. And, the franchisor should have systems in place to monitor franchisees’ progress, provide additional training and guidance, and further the overall development of the brand which all contributes to solidifying that foundation. But, as detailed and comprehensive as all this sounds, it still is not enough for most franchisees to succeed without their own desire, drive and determination.

And, not just words, but actual action.

Failure or Success?

Years ago, I was working with a franchise group on a complex marketing project. The project was ultimately a success and achieved most of the goals and objectives that were established prior to launch. Most of the franchisees embraced the strategy and were extremely instrumental in executing the plan. However, there were five franchisees that just couldn’t get out of their own way to realize the benefits of the plan, and did not realize positive results as their fellow franchisees had.

As with many of my franchise clients, the franchisor requested that I work with these franchisees, ascertain the root of their problems, and develop an aggressive plan of action to move their businesses forward. You see, the franchisor truly wanted to see their franchisees succeed! By the way, these franchisees represented the bottom of the franchise group in average unit sales. Definitely, that was no coincidence. Well, to make a long story short, the obvious problem in each case pointed back to the franchisees working “in” the business, as opposed to “on” the business. Mix in some procrastination, entitlement attitudes, and of course, total denial, and the recipe for total business failure was complete.

I was able to determine that these franchisees were compensating for their path to failure by being at the business location longer hours, spending more and more time taking care of customers, while spending less and less time on anything else. All claimed to be working harder than they had ever worked before. Was it because they had to cut payroll and do the job themselves? Ironically, that was not the case as I found employees standing around while the franchisee did their jobs.

Often, I witnessed franchisees literally stepping in front of employees to take care of a customer. When I addressed the same with the franchisees, all were actually preparing for failure but didn’t want to be considered the actual cause of failure. All thought that by being seen at the business long hours every day and working non-stop behind the counter, no one would be able to say they didn’t work hard at making the business a success.

Certainly, they wouldn’t be blamed for failure.

Of the five struggling franchisees, all but one was anxious to listen and make firm commitments to improve their situations. The remaining franchisee was thoroughly convinced he would fail and there was nothing he, or anyone else, could do to change the situation.

He placed total blame on the franchisor, claiming they didn’t provide support, and strongly professed that he, himself, did everything humanly possible to succeed.

When I asked what he was referring to, he pointed to the long hours every day. When I asked about marketing efforts, he claimed he shouldn’t have to do anything in that regard and pointed back to the franchisor.

He ranted about how the franchisor should have spent money on his behalf in promoting the business and how he spent over $300K on build-out and equipment and that should have been more than enough to ensure his success. Further, he felt he should be able to open the doors everyday, and if the brand name was strong enough, success would occur in a relative matter of time.

As I indicated, four of the franchisees decided to move forward. Agreeing that failure was not an option, we developed and executed an extremely aggressive, yet cost-effective, plan of action centered around getting outside the business location every day to promote their business wherever and however they could.

They all agreed they should have been doing this all along but always seemed to procrastinate in actually getting the job done. They attributed a big part of their procrastination to a strong sense of entitlement that the franchisor should be doing more because they, the franchisees, were the ones that already made an investment to grow the brand. As such, they had convinced themselves that any possibility of failure would fall firmly on the franchisor’s shoulders. In turn, they buried themselves “in” the business and were awaiting the inevitable.

After many hours of discussion and debate about vision, passion, drive and determination, all four franchisees decided to take responsibility for their actions and would hold themselves to a high level of accountability, to their business, employees, family, and themselves.

Each was relentless in their quest to turn their businesses around. They spoke to whoever would listen about their products and services. They were tireless in their efforts to discover new groups and organizations that might listen and learn about what their business had to offer.

They were almost to the point of being ruthless in their desire to ask for referrals and recommendations. They were all thinking outside the box, always asking themselves, “What more can be done?” and never accepting a “nothing” answer.

Needless to say, their new attitudes became contagious and before they knew it, everyone seemed to be spreading the word. Nowadays, we would refer to that as a “viral” effect.

The Final Tally

One franchisee sold his business to an individual he met when spreading the word about his business. The new franchisee became a multi-unit operator and eventually sold the business for a significant profit.

Two franchisees took on partners they met in their efforts within the community. All are now multi-unit operators within several franchise systems.

One franchisee continues to operate her business and although happy to have survived, never had the desire to open additional locations.

And, the franchisee, who said he would fail… was absolutely right!

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Poker & Entrepreneurship: Games of Skill?

I recently watched the movie, “Rounders” for what was probably the 100th time I’ve done so. If you’re not aware of the movie, it’s basically about the dark side of underground high-stakes poker. Movies like this also seem to make a correlation to business for me. For instance, the main character, Michael McDermott says, “Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY YEAR? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?”

That makes me think of the same entrepreneurs that start one business after another, and all succeed. Do you think that’s luck? Hell, no! It’s knowing when to take a calculated risk, understanding the odds, hedging bets when necessary, being patient, exploring opportunities to increase your bankroll and knowing when to take a competitor head-on. It really is a mindset… But we must always remember, you can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle. [pause] But you can’t win much either.

What can entrepreneurs learn from playing poker?

Poker can be seen as a leisurely game by most people. It may be looked at as a viable way to relax and unwind after a week of decision making, handling issues, and addressing challenges. Essentially a pause from life. On the flip side, there are individuals earning a living by playing poker, leading an independent lifestyle and building a secure financial future.

Whether a friendly neighborhood poker game or one that takes place down at the local casino, there is no doubt, poker is a game of skill. There’s a lot that can be learned from this all too familiar game.

Below are nine skills from an article I’ve read in Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media. These skills help poker players win at the poker table but also good for individuals to grow professionally, to improve their analytical skills, to help address stressful situations, and ultimately to win, maybe win big, at the game of business.

1. It starts inside your head 

Poker is a mind-sport and so is business. It is all about the moves you make, the strategy you take, and who you decide to play against. Your mental conditioning must be top-notch, and you must be prepared to take on any challenge. Unless your mind is in the right place, your game will suffer.

2. Being process-oriented, not result-oriented

Captain Picard from Star trek said that “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.” You can play a hand of poker perfectly and not come out on top, just like you can do everything right with your company/business and still not hit the goals you were after. But this problem is short-term. It’s all about getting your fundamentals right and if you don’t succeed, try again. In the long run, making the right decisions is what will make you a winner. Reckless decisions might help you rise, but they won’t keep you on top. Sensibility will always conquer luck.

3. Reading your competitors

At the poker table anticipating the affinity of your competitors toward risks will help you decide the best moves to make. Additionally, knowing their strengths and weaknesses will take you a long way and help counter them effectively. Similarly in business, you need to do your due diligence to understand your competition, and only then can you stay one step ahead of them.

4. Factor in every scenario

Poker is unpredictable, and so is business. When making a move, you need to factor in every possible eventuality, most importantly the worst case, and then act accordingly. 

5. Folding your aces

Aces are the best possible hole cards you can get in poker, but as the game goes on, you may realize you don’t have the best hand overall because of the cards that open. Similarly, you might have the best product in the market, but unless conditions are conducive, it might not reach the heights it merits. It’s important to not get disheartened and understand that these things happen.

6. The pressure is for cookers

When the stakes are high is when you can win the biggest. Not letting the pressure get to you is the name of the game.

7. Bankroll Management is key

If your total bankroll is low, you don’t go play a High-Roller game with a high buy-in. It is important to be financially sensible.  

8. Never chase losses 

When you lose multiple hands in a row, you might be tempted to play just because you want to recover your loss or reputation. This line of thinking will impede judgment and might turn out to be harmful. Make every move at its own merit and never because of earlier results.

9. Most importantly, you must do it responsibly

Being cognizant of your own capabilities is of utmost importance, both in poker and in business. What are the stakes you choose to play at? How much do you invest? How much time do you put into it? One of the most important things to remember is also that an excess of everything is bad, and the minute you feel that the quality of your personal, professional or family life is being affected by your decisions, it is time to take a step back and ask yourself what you should change.

There have been a number of great articles written about poker and entrepreneurship. I’ve listed some of my favorites below:

Poker and Entrepreneurship: How Similar Are They?

What Poker Taught Me About Business

5 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Poker

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Thinking about poker and the skills necessary to win – whether in a neighborhood or professional game – has me also thinking about the skills entrepreneurs must develop and hone to succeed in their endeavors. So, my Question of the Week is:

What skills are necessary for today’s entrepreneur to succeed, and at a high level?

I look forward to reading your responses and learning your perspective. In my humble opinion, entrepreneurship will be the mechanism that will propel our country through uncertain times we’re all facing. I do believe it’ll be a massive collaborative effort of entrepreneurs everywhere to ensure our full recovery. Helping and learning from each other is imperative.

Now, I can’t seem to get Kenny Rogers’ song, The Gambler out of my head.

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away, and know when to run…

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Do Your Homework BEFORE Buying a Franchise!

The dream of owning your own business is alive and well for most Americans. The only problem is that many people don’t know where to start on the journey to becoming self-sufficient. There are a million different options, but first and foremost each potential entrepreneur must decide if he or she wants to become a franchisee or start a business independently.

Each route has its benefits; therefore, it’s critical to take the time to consider both options before making a decision. What it initially comes down to is asking yourself the following questions:

1. Do you understand every aspect of the business, or do you thrive in one area?

When starting a business from scratch, entrepreneurs should be well versed in every single element of the enterprise. They need to create systems and procedures and test whether these work for that particular business. This process of ironing out the details deters some from choosing to own an independent business but excites and challenges others.

Conversely someone who buys a franchise knows that someone else has already done the “dirty work” and found the most effective systems for that particular business. A franchisee must simply thrive at correctly running the system while adding their own personal management touch. 

2. Are you an expert at making a name for yourself or would you like to be associated with an already strong brand?

When purchasing a franchise, you are also inheriting the reputation of that brand. For example, if you open your own Dunkin’ Donuts shop, you will encounter customers who already recognize the pink and orange logo. Many people will know whether they like the brand and will expect speedy service providing them doughnuts and steaming hot coffee.

On the other hand, those starting a business from scratch have a chance to create a unique brand identity. But consumer trust and awareness don’t come easily; they need to be earned through time, consistency and excellence.

3. Are you the kind of person who likes to go it alone or do you appreciate a sense of community?

Owning a business — whether it’s a franchise or not — can be risky. Some people prefer to be self-reliant and want to manage potential problems using past experiences and premonitions as guides. An entrepreneur must solve the issues that arise.

Others prefer enlisting the support and help of others to ensure that their business runs smoothly. A franchisee has many built-in allies, including the franchisor and other franchisees within the system.

The most important factor for success is making sure that problems are identified, and steps are taken in the right direction.

Is Owning a Franchise in Your Future?

For many individuals that explore franchising as the next step in their career, as a way to control their own destiny or as a way to create a family business understanding the process can be quite overwhelming. Below are several articles by franchise experts I shared on my blog in 2018. Still relevant today, I believe it will help interested parties diligently navigate the process to help create a playing field that is best for them as opposed to seeing themselves aimlessly tiptoe through a minefield consisting of franchising’s good, bad and ugly.

If you’re thinking of becoming a franchisee, how should you prepare yourself?

Buying a franchise can be a great move for a would-be entrepreneur who doesn’t want to create a new business from scratch. In theory, franchisees acquire a model that already works on every level, from branding to pricing to marketing. A ready clientele eagerly spends on Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and 7-11. The market has tested the best recipes for glazed crullers, Egg McMuffins and the right combo of energy drinks to stock next to the register. But making a go as a successful franchisee can be a lot more complicated than simply finding an appealing brand and plunking down some cash. For a taste of what can go wrong, see Forbes’ piece about the past problems at sandwich franchise Quiznos, which paid $206 million to settle a suit brought by franchisees who claimed the chain had oversold its markets and excessively marked up supplies. Read more.

How to Buy a Franchise

Contrary to popular belief, the process of buying a franchise isn’t really difficult-but it is a process. I’ve found, (through working one-on-one with thousands of potential franchise owners) that it’s really important to tackle a major life decision like the purchase of a franchise business-or any type of business, in a very methodical way. (Even if you’re not a methodical person!)

But you need to realize that buying a franchise is a big deal. It could potentially be life changing. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

After all, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you wanted to just go out and find a new job -or keep the one you have.

With that in mind, kick off your shoes and grab your favorite beverage. In this article, Joel Libava, The Franchise King shows exactly how to buy a franchise. Read more.

Owning a Franchise Business is Good for Your Family

Many entrepreneurs choose to become small-business owners with an exit strategy of turning over the business to their children one day — a strategy that takes on more importance in an era where young people are struggling to find gainful employment. Children who begin working in the family business at a young age will typically start an ascension into management after college, with an eye on purchasing some or all of the family business as their parents head into retirement. Often, the parents will retain a percentage of the business as a revenue stream in retirement, adding an extra level of responsibility for the child as a steward of their parents’ nest egg.

Even if they don’t stay in the family business, studies show that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability of children’s entrepreneurship by about 60%. Children of entrepreneurial parents have already experienced many of the ebbs and flows of small-business ownership, which helps to mitigate their fears and raise their risk tolerance. Read more

Learning About Franchising

During research for Franchise Bible, 8th Edition, author, Rick Grossman found that the franchise industry had changed in many ways over the years. Technology has had the biggest impact by modifying buying behaviors. Not too many years ago, franchise buyers would find an opportunity in Entrepreneur magazine or by attending a franchise expo in-person. They would then go through the franchisor’s respective step-by-step process to qualify, purchase and launch their franchises. But today, buyers can find a plethora of information online about nearly any franchise they want to learn about. This has leveled the playing field for new innovative companies to compete favorably with the “big boys” in the marketplace. Read more

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Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Overcoming Fear

As Mental Health Awareness Month continues, I wanted to be sure we keep it front and center. As such, I’ve given it some personal thought this morning as I found myself reflecting upon the past few years and where things are today. What should I be doing moving forward? What lessons have I learned? How do I address my own personal fears?

Certainly, the last few years has had many uncertainties which, quite frankly took us on an emotional roller coaster. Mostly, the driving force has been fear. I’ve realized my own fear once I was able to admit being scared. Hey, at my age and the fact I’m not in good shape, I must be realistic. So, I’m working through my fear and in doing so, maybe I can overcome it. As fear is such a strong emotion that easily grips the soul, it will take time and patience to overcome such a grip.

Little by little I look forward to continuing to pry it away as fear is replaced by courage gained from confidence that fear is just a challenge to be conquered. The great thing is that some of the challenges don’t have to be tackled alone. Instead, collaborative efforts aligned with common goals truly exemplify the phrase, ‘strength in numbers’ and it’s that strength that ultimately conquers fear. Easier said than done? Possibly, but the alternative is being overwhelmed by fear and that, I recognize is not living.

Others feel the same and possibly are dealing with it in a bad way. Talking things through can be most helpful but should we initiate a conversation? Resoundingly, YES!

Always be sure to let the special people in your life know you love them and remember; actions often speak louder than words. Be sensitive to the fact they may be going through some difficulties and keeping it all inside. Open, positive communications may provide them just enough confidence to open up and share their thoughts.

Need to talk through your fears, to determine how to tackle challenges you’re facing and, to clear your mind so you can explore possibilities? If so, I’d like to help. Please contact me on LinkedIn or drop me a note at paul@acceler8success.com. Of course, I will keep our conversations private.

When faced with the possibility of failure, what do entrepreneurs do?

No matter how well entrepreneurs plan and regardless of the effort they’ve dedicated to their business and endeavors, they sometimes fall short of their goal with the end-result causing a variety of challenges and problems.

Ultimately, it can adversely affect financial position, reputation, relationships, team spirit and much more. It can also start to spiral into personal life and affect family, health and overall well-being.

Such situations are often perpetuated by denial by placing one own’s head in the sand. Well, as we’re able to visualize our head deep in the sand, we quickly realize our most vulnerable ass-et is sticking out in plain view.

Some will laugh. Others will point and snicker, definitely telling others. And a few will take advantage of the situation and current position of vulnerability.

Sadly, we put ourselves in that position. Not because we swung and missed. Not because we didn’t see the forest for the trees. And not because we just flat-out saw something that wasn’t there.

Instead, it’s because we didn’t keep our head high, accept the situation, learn from it and move on, and with laser-focus. That is exactly what entrepreneurs do when faced with failure.

Certainly, we must do all we can to persevere. It has me thinking about a quote. One of many I keep in my memory bank… “Never give up and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.” – Marta

When faced with failure, or the possibility of failure, we should be diligent in reviewing our goals. Often, it’s the Why behind those goals that can give the push needed to move forward, to climb out of the hole, so to speak. However, we must be clear in our minds that what we may be wishing for is one thing, and it’s good to wish because doing so digs deep into our hearts and soul. Remember wishing for that shining new red bike as a kid?

Well, there’s a huge difference between goals and wishes but they’re often confused as the same. Why? Because the desired end results appear to be the same and especially if they’re articulated with what appears to be passion. However, the difference comes down to action. Wishes are nothing but talk with no definitive action plan. Goals are real, but only with a definitive action plan. Dennis Waitley states it best, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.

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Napoleon Hill was quoted as saying, “The No. 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors.”

So, think for yourself. Keep driving towards your goals knowing you will fail at times along the way – and you will fail because if you don’t, you’re not working hard enough at perfecting your ideas. And, keep hustling and grinding each and every day, avoiding negative distractions as you remain laser-focused on the road to success.

May is also Military Appreciation Month

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“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag” ― Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Adapting to Change; a Moving Target

One key to success in a business owner’s life is to learn from mistakes. Although the mistakes may not have been intentional, they’re real, nonetheless.

Unfortunately, even when lessons are learned, the negative results attained by poor choices and ill-fated decisions sometimes take a long time from which to completely recover. These issues often have to be worked through, driven by a firm commitment to reverse course. Sure, it’d be so much easier if a quick change in direction allowed for full recovery but it’s typically not that simple.

So, as business owners find themselves moving in the wrong direction, it’s essential to implement a strategy to get back on course and then stay on track until full recovery is achieved. To that end, it’s essential business owners hold themselves accountable while accepting personal responsibility. Doing so increases the possibility, if not the probability of success.

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Change is the New Normal

How are business owners currently handling change? How will they handle it moving forward? In the past, leaders predicted threats and planned responses with a risk-management strategy. Today, however, the nature of risk itself is different… It’s right upon us!

The changes business owners are implementing today to survive will continue to be necessary as their recovery from the pandemic continues and again as they’re facing the uncertainty and effects of inflation. Most likely, changes, and adapting to the changes will be key to their future success as customers and clients will become accustomed to the changes and will expect them to continue – even if it means the business owners must implement the changes alongside what was previously considered standard operations. It’ll be another moving target.

For example, think about the pandemic-driven focus on take-out & delivery in the restaurant industry. Customers are expecting this to continue long after standard operations have resumed. Actually, this focus has helped businesses to recover faster, and in many cases, it has improved business as processes were perfected and improvements were made along the way, as opposed to efforts being considered a temporary solution for the times. Will it remain as such? Possibly. However, the moving target will be the implementation of necessary improvements to keep pace in technology and customer communications.

Despite being in a continuing survival mode, business owners must be thinking about the next steps, the next phase of recovery lest they fall short and lose the war despite winning battles along the way. In a world of seemingly constant change, non-adaptive behavior will be a killer problem. 

Weekly Review May 8-14

By now you’re most likely aware that Sundays at Acceler8Success Cafe is the time for looking back over the past week. It’s a time for review as with so much going on at Acceler8Success Cafe I know it’s easy to miss a newsletter or two. Possibly my Question of the Week slipped by without you noticing, or an announcement I may have made just seemingly got lost amongst the busy news feed.

To reiterate, just like an experience at your local cafe, I really want Acceler8Success Cafe to be conveniently located when you desire or need to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and catch up on some reading. My goal is for Acceler8Success Cafe to be your virtual cafe. A place where you may frequently visit to enjoy a few minutes to yourself. I’d like the experience to be memorable by providing learning opportunities, by presenting a different perspective & insight, by spurring thought & reflection, by encouraging interaction, and by spotlighting topics that, frankly, may not be as front and center as they should or need to be.

I’m excited that Acceler8Success Cafe is open for business seven days a week. For the benefit of current & aspiring entrepreneurs, this daily newsletter will be delivered each morning. As a way to jumpstart the week ahead, I’m delivering a weekly review each Sunday morning listing the articles you might have missed during the previous week. My goal is to provide an opportunity to begin the new week with information and ideas that possibly could accelerate your success.

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The Ability to Sell is a Cornerstone to Entrepreneurial Success It’s essential to have developed a great idea, product or service, and business model, but without perfecting the ability to articulate the vision, communicate it well, and close the deal, the company or concept goes nowhere.

Proper Preparation (and Diligence): Essential Steps to Closing Deals Whether selling a product or service, or as is the case of an entrepreneur pitching his or her ideas, it’s vital to be ready, really ready to make an effective presentation.

Questions are Key to Closing Sales Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on. Look for tell-tale signs – hot buttons. How? By asking the right questions, the right way!

Question of the Week: How important is it for an entrepreneur to be proficient in presenting and selling?

When the Sale is in Jeopardy, but Failure is not an Option! You’ve learned in the 11th hour; an important prospective client is changing directions and is exploring options with your competitor. As it turns out, the change in direction is being blamed on something you did or said that they weren’t exactly happy with. What would you do?

There is No “I” in Sales Nothing is so basic to business as sales. In fact, nothing happens in business without a sale!

Together… The way it was, and/or a case for how it could or should be? Together… with or in proximity to another person or people; so as to touch or combine; in combination, collectively; into companionship or close association; so as to be united or in agreement; at the same time; without interruption; continuously.

A major announcement in the world of franchise and small business finance!

Benetrends, the International Franchise Association’s preferred vendor for ROBS business funding and the trusted leader in franchise and small business funding for over 40 years, has acquired DCV Franchise Group.

“The acquisition of DCV Franchise Group enhances our access to lenders and greatly expands our lending footprint in the industry,” stated Rocco Fiorentino, CEO of Benetrends.

Read the press release HERE.

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If you’re interested in submitting an article for Acceler8Success Cafe, please let me know. Articles must be about entrepreneurship, franchising, small business ownership or anything related to these general topics. Please reach out to me here on LinkedIn or via email to paul@acceler8success.com. Thank you!

On the lighter side…

A young MBA was leaving the office late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. “Listen,” said the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work? “Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button. “Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

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A month and a half left in the second quarter. It’s hard to believe. It’s time to shift into high gear and take things to another level or two!

Have a great week ahead. Make it happen. Make it count!

Together… The way it was, and/or a case for how it could or should be?

This past week, I read two interesting social media posts that I found myself thinking about quite often. Although each post was shared by different individuals, I believe the two posts really sync well together, almost like two stories shared to make one point. This morning, I find myself pondering over them once again and thought I would share the same in this morning’s newsletter instead of what I had prepared for today. As always, I look forward to learning your thoughts, so please do share.

Together – with or in proximity to another person or people… “together they climbed the dark stairs”; so as to touch or combine… “she held her hands together as if she were praying”; in combination, collectively… “taken together, these measures would significantly improve people’s chances of surviving a tornado”; into companionship or close association… “the experience has brought us together”; so as to be united or in agreement… “he won the confidence of the government and the rebels, but could not bring the two sides together”; at the same time… “they both spoke together”; without interruption; continuously… “she sits for hours together in the lotus position”

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I remember my father, when he pulled nails out of anything, he would straighten them to be reused. My mother would press little scraps of soap together to create a “new” bar. Any kind of food or drink container that made its way into the house was pressed into service for some other purpose. Clothes and toys got handed down to younger cousins. Shoes and small appliances were repaired, not replaced. When I think about these things today, they sound so penny-pinching but that’s how most of the people on my street lived. Never for one second did we think of ourselves as poor, but nothing with any useful life in it went to waste.

Maybe that way of life was a hangover from the Great Depression. My parents and those of their generation who lived through that nightmare were never the same. Financial security became an obsession. Saving something for a rainy day became their mantra. My parents never owned a credit card. If they wanted something they saved up and paid in cash. Buying a washing machine or a television set was a significant decision. When we got our first telephone, a black, beauty with a rotary dial, my mother had it installed in an alcove behind a little curtain like The Wizard of Oz.

We were mostly happy and well adjusted. Then Madison Avenue went to work telling us in TV ads that we weren’t cool unless we paid five times more for the jeans with somebody’s name on them. We started looking for happiness in things instead of people. Credit cards sprang up everywhere and people started buying houses, cars, fancy weddings and vacations they couldn’t afford. They found out too late that the simple lives their parents led, though not easy, made them happier than all the things money could buy. How can we restore an appreciation of simple pleasures back into our lives?

I hope it doesn’t take another Great Depression.

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United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Similar thoughts have appeared throughout history. 

In the biblical New Testament – translated into English from the historic Greek in Mark 3:25 as “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.

In an Aesop Fable (16th century) – “The Four Oxen and the Lion” – A LION used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near, they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!