Starting a Business While Still in College

The best way for a student to start a business during college is with a network marketing organization.

Before you roll your eyes (or maybe after) consider this:

1. Network marketing is a $167 BN industry. That makes is a larger industry than video games at $67 BN, organic products at $80 BN, and the NFL at $9.5 BN. It also grew as an industry by $50 BN or nearly 50% in the years from 2009 to 2012. All statistics are from 2012.

2. The best network marketing companies are reputable and have a low cost of entry – especially for students. The one I’m involved with (disclaimer World Ventures) also has no inventory to carry or manage, which suits the living arrangements and lifestyle of students. Additionally, the best companies offer plenty of training, mentoring, and leadership development.

3. Students learn the techniques of professional sales, which any entrepreneur – student or otherwise – must master.

Finally a story, about an MBA graduate from Cal Poly who was interviewing for jobs after graduation. All the employers mainly wanted to talk about his business, yes the network marketing one that he built. He was made five job offers and accepted the one that was made by Tesla.

Entrepreneurialism is a must-have trait for all professionals. The best way to learn it is not in class, but to earn it on the playing field of business.



Is your team doping?

No matter how hard Olympians train, when winning can come down to a thousandth of a second every optimization is crucial. One crucial decision that every athlete faces is whether to risk their health and career by using performance-enhancing drugs in order to closer to the win.

There are parallels in business everyday. I see a lot of companies make unhealthy decisions when faced with the pressures for short-term results. Many cycle through inexpensive interns instead of investing in developing talent for the future; they stifle innovation through excessive cost cutting; or grind “productivity” out of increasingly demotivated employees.

These decisions aren’t as obvious as an athlete deciding to dope, instead they creep in at every level of the organization until long-term health is in danger.

Certainly there are times when the short-term need for a win can outweigh long-term considerations, but it’s important to be clear about the choices that are being made, and the consequences that could appear down the road.

How can you be certain that your organization is making healthy decisions?

Start by to asking these questions:

  • What are the long-term impacts of short-terms bursts of productivity?
  • How are we pursuing a strategy of long-term health while pursuing our short-term goals?
  • Is our drive to win today compelling us to pursue tactics that will make it difficult for us to win tomorrow?

Any organization that is compromising its long term health for short term burst is doping. It’s a choice. The consequences become graver the longer it goes on, and it’s always possible to pursue a healthier course.

Enjoy the games!


Culturally Agile Organizations

Here are examples of companies who are really culturally agile and doing very well.

One is the bank HSBC. For example, when they go into a country first of all they get as much local staff as possible and as much local talent. They develop it very well. But when they send their managers there, their managers stay for decades. Most other companies have a two to three year rotational cycle. For example, German companies. They move into a new country, they are trained by the local staff in local culture and how to do things and then about two to three years into it right when they are really understanding it they get sent back so all of that investment into them understanding it is then taken out and the local staff just gets drained and demotivated by having to do it all over again.

Another example of a company who is very culturally agile in doing things very well is IBM. When IBM, for example, entered China they went over with Singaporeans and American-born Chinese as much as possible. Then they invested very heavily in developing their local talent and they have quite a string of mainline Chinese who are in charge of things. It is actually fairly rare to see someone who is not Chinese in IBM. The other thing where they have gone further beyond their leadership in management is they are localizing their value chains. They are localizing all of their operations to be relevant to the country that they are in. Everyone in the organization has a high level of individual cultural agility. The organization as a whole communicates so one thing doesn’t happen in one country that other people don’t understand. Then finally they localize. IBM is localizing their value chain, meaning that they have specialized logistics, procurement, manufacturing, sales, distribution, service, and support, which are all relevant to the country that they are active in. They are not just taking one global system and imposing it everywhere because quite honestly that is not effective.

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Three Questions To Ask Yourself When Determining Who Needs To Be Culturally Agile

The first question is, are they customer facing? Are they sales, marketing, executives, customer service, customer support? The other thing too is any vendor who provides services that are customer facing can be as simple as the people who are providing marketing materials, who are providing collateral materials or art so you don’t have to go out and educate every single time. You have a team that is across the board that has these skills of cultural agility.

The second question to ask about who needs to be most culturally agile is, are they working with cross-border teams? Obviously these people really, really need to be culturally agile. You find these people a lot in operations. They are managing virtual teams at every aspect of the organization and this can even be in retail.

The third question to ask when you are determining who needs to be most culturally agile is, are they regulated formally? If they are a group, say finance, who has a legal regulations on top of them they probably don’t need a ton of cultural agility. They need to be aware of the law and so that group you might be able to say not as important as the other ones.

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2 Steps To Getting Lean Enough To Succeed

There are things that we carry around in our organizations and in our mentality that make things more cumbersome than they need to be. Treat your leadership like you would treat a manufacturing floor and get leaner now. Here’s the two fastest ways to achieve this.

Come out of hiding. 

Many people avoiding sticky issues saying that they like to allow time to let things work out on their own. Sure, that could be a legitimate hands-off leadership approach, but it can also be the mantra of procrastination or worse, avoidance. The problem is that a leader who avoids making decisions is also giving up control. By addressing the issue directly and not avoiding, there was less stress on everyone involved and a better outcome was created.

Move on, even when you’re right. 

Far too often I see leaders get tangled up in pursuing a matter on principle. This can be as tangible as money they’re rightfully owed, or as conceptual as an acknowledgement of error.

In the end, it’s about being right and getting admission from the person who has wronged them. The question is how far they’re willing to win. If the best revenge is living well, then the ultimate loss is being driven by anger, frustration, and bitterness no matter how things turn out in the end.

Letting go of money is certainly a big deal, but bad debt is also the cost of doing business. Tally up the hours spent pursuing it in thought and action, then add that cost to whatever effort you put into earning the money in the first place through your goods and services. It may be a hefty amount.

Now add in the very significant cost of placing your focus on the past instead of the future. You may find that you can make up the bad debt and more by pursuing new business and creating new opportunities. Now the cost of pursuit becomes staggering.

I’m not advocating walking away from a tough situation–that would be avoiding. Instead my message is to fight for a while, then assess the situation pragmatically and move on when the time is right. You’ll definitely feel better and your performance will improve when you let go of old injuries. I’ve never had a client do this and regret giving up being angry too soon. The opposite is far too often the case.

If you’re in this kind of situation now, I recommend doing the following: figure out your ideal outcome; assess the lengths to which you’re willing to pursue it; create a measurement so you know when you’re reached the point of diminishing returns; and if you hit it, then move on.

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Generating Thought Leadership To Grow Your Career and Company

Being a thought leader makes you a person of interest, whether within your department at your company, within your industry, or on a global level.  How big you think is up to you.  The key is to develop your reputation as the obvious go-to person when people are seeking expertise in your area of leadership.  Doing so will increase your visibility within your organization and potentially within your industry, and as a result, job offers and your job security will both increase. As you develop into a standout expert, ideal clients will flock to your company, having heard others refer to you as a leader in the industry.

To start, consider whether you are already a thought leader. Do you have unique approaches, insight and expertise, preferably gained through experience? Avoid striving for encyclopedic knowledge of your area. Instead, uncover a deep level of expertise that you already have, delve into your insight on improving processes that you are familiar with, or consider something that you already do very well.

To more simply identify your own area of leadership, ask yourself the following questions.  What do your colleagues regularly come to you for?  What do your competitors fear?  Why do your customers buy from you?  What do your fans treasure about you?

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Making Mentor Relationships Work


Mentor relationships begin with plenty of promise. Often they don’t deliver because the mentor and mentee don’t know how to make the most of the relationship.

Here are three keys to creating a successful mentoring relationship:

  1. Don’t believe everything the other person has to say
  2. Be willing to be dumb
  3. Break Miss Manners’ rules

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Making Work Serve Life, Not The Other Way Around!

Simple rules for career development that improve everything…

  • Work serves life when it is a natural part of your existence that is a professional expression of your values, passions and interests.
  • Life comes first. Who you are, what you care about, your most important relationships and the values, passions and interests that make you uniquely you.
  • Create clarity about what you want your life to look like now. Capture your vision and hold it gentle ferocity. Firm flexibility is key since there are plenty of surprises and you want to enjoy them!
  • Work is a tool. The more aligned it is with your vision of your life the more fulfillment and enjoyment you will experience. Lesser alignment of work and vision sap your energy, foster frustration and encourage other self-defeating behaviors that lead further away from the vision.
  • Everybody wins when work serves life. Working with passion and engagement is the desire of every worthwhile employee and employer.
  • Transition is an opportunity – making work serve life is a fresh paradigm. To make it happen you cannot simply live by default letting others make decisions on your behalf. Take action, seek differently and put life first everyday.
  • “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” - Albert Einstein
  • It’s your job to believe in you. Whiners, victims, doubters and experts in self-limitation need not apply.

Power in Vulnerability

Thinking about being vulnerable can be by its very nature uncomfortable and frightening. When we’re faced with new circumstances, feel threatened or feel the need to prove ourselves, we often cling to the power of position or knowledge. But it is this type of power that moves us away from our own learning and stifles both our own potential and the potential of our organizations.

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Reclaim Your Effectiveness With One Simple Action

The number one key to executive effectiveness is active self-esteem. We live in a Do-Have-Be world, “I do this work therefore I have this stuff which makes me be this person.” To grow active self-esteem, turn this around.

Appreciate first who you are being: your own qualities, what you like the very most about yourself. Secondly celebrate what it is you do: how you are living your life and the contributions you’re making to the world around you. The result is what you have: the relationships with the people around you, and yes, the stuff you treasure.