Seven Habits and Dr. Covey

July 29th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

One of the people that I count as having had a dramatic impact on the intellectual approaches in my life is Dr. Stephen R. Covey.

I was deeply saddened when I learned that Dr. Covey had passed away. I realize that Dr. Covey was an older man, but I feel cheated and robbed a little bit because his time was cut short. I want to publicly (and in a personal way) express my appreciation and acknowledge the contributions he made in my life.

Indeed, Dr. Covey was the headline endorser for The Zig Zag Principle and for this I am deeply grateful. Of course, the credibility added by Stephen R. Covey was immense. I so appreciate his willingness to endorse my book. Far deeper than that; however, is the intellectual capital that Dr. Stephen Covey passed on to me.

In the 80’s I was a student of is. Being a young person at the time–I was forming my thought patterns, and of course his teachings played a big role in that. I have to admit that I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People no fewer than ten times. I’ve often joked that I probably should be credited for the book’s international sales because I have given a copy to every executive that I worked with in my career both at Novell and at Mitsubishi Electric.

There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t apply some angle or aspect of Dr. Covey’s teachings, including:
-    The time matrix prioritization
-    The area of influence
-    The area of concern
-    Or first things first.

Dr. Covey, I want to personally express my appreciation and acknowledge you as truly leaving a legacy. I believe you achieved the goal of having an impact on humanity.

Thank you Dr. Covey.

You’ll be deeply missed not only by myself, but by many others who have looked to you as a mentor and as a hero.

Seven Habits and Dr. Covey

July 29th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

One of the people that I count as having had a dramatic impact on the intellectual approaches in my life is Dr. Stephen R. Covey.

I was deeply saddened when I learned that Dr. Covey had passed away. I realize that Dr. Covey was an older man, but I feel cheated and robbed a little bit because his time was cut short. I want to publicly (and in a personal way) express my appreciation and acknowledge the contributions he made in my life.

Indeed, Dr. Covey was the headline endorser for The Zig Zag Principle and for this I am deeply grateful. Of course, the credibility added by Stephen R. Covey was immense. I so appreciate his willingness to endorse my book. Far deeper than that; however, is the intellectual capital that Dr. Stephen Covey passed on to me.

In the 80’s I was a student of is. Being a young person at the time–I was forming my thought patterns, and of course his teachings played a big role in that. I have to admit that I’ve read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People no fewer than ten times. I’ve often joked that I probably should be credited for the book’s international sales because I have given a copy to every executive that I worked with in my career both at Novell and at Mitsubishi Electric.

There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t apply some angle or aspect of Dr. Covey’s teachings, including:
-    The time matrix prioritization
-    The area of influence
-    The area of concern
-    Or first things first.

Dr. Covey, I want to personally express my appreciation and acknowledge you as truly leaving a legacy. I believe you achieved the goal of having an impact on humanity.

Thank you Dr. Covey.

You’ll be deeply missed not only by myself, but by many others who have looked to you as a mentor and as a hero.

It’s the Indian, Not the Arrow

July 23rd, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

This morning at 4:00 a.m. I jumped on an airplane and made my way to Carlsbad, CA. There I was able to experience a personal custom fitting at the Callaway Golf base. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I am an absolute tech geek. I was in heaven. There at Callaway was every camera, every computer, every peice of the latest technology designed to help analyze the ball rotation and launch angle and the impact of the club on the ball as it connected with my club’s head. The experience was incredible.

After the fitting, I finally sat down, delighted, and feeling absolutely sure I could bury every hole on the course. Now I am realistic enough to realize that my skill level just isn’t going to allow that. However, I still maintain it is very important every once in a while to recharge. It’s vital to get yourself to that next level with tools or training or resources in order to reach the competitive edge and then grow and advance your business. I can’t stress how very important it is to get yourself into the mental capacity to progress the business.

My dear friend and business partner Curtis Blair will often say, “It’s the Indian, not the arrow.”  What he means by this is, that it is often your individual skill that matters far more than the equipment you use.

That being said–today it was about the arrow, not the Indian.

Getting refreshed.

Taking time to pause.

Taking time to go to the training.

These things can be extremely powerful in mentally advancing your business. 

Make sure that you take pause to give yourselves those mental rewards along the way. After all, one of the key points of The Zig Zag Principle is to put the rewards out there and then take time to savor them along the way.

The 5 Step Cheat Sheet to Business Idea Breakthrough

July 17th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

In 1583 a young man attending a University in Pisa, Italy became very disinterested and bored with the lecture at hand. Instead of listening, he turned his observation to an overhead light that was swinging randomly. He took his pulse and began feeling the irregularity of his pulse and observed in timing that the interval between the short swing of the lamp vs. the long swing of the lamp was exactly the same. Indeed this initial observation was one of the major breakthroughs in randomness thinking vs. measurement thinking in our society.

This young man was Galileo. Indeed he went on to apply sequential patterns to numbers, movements, stars, and many other things. Today we are all aware of how deeply Galileo impacted science, thinking, and society.

So what does this story have to do with business idea breakthrough? Indeed the key thing that Galileo did was observe! Too frequently we all fail to simply observe. We sometimes listen, we sometimes look, we often accept the dogma–myself included. So I’d like to offer up five key steps that you need to engage in to have your business breakthrough idea.

1. Listen. Listen and watch. Really listen, really watch, and observe what is going on around you. Too frequently we ignore all the little signs all the little interesting behaviors. How many thousands of years have people observed swinging lamps, but not taken the time to notice them and measure? How interesting is that little subtle difference that caught his interest?

2. Once you observe, ask “why”. I knew a shining example of this–a four year old named James. Every question out of his mouth was, why? As adults, too frequently we quit asking why and thus we fail to learn and have mental breakthroughs.

3. Find an anomaly. In my experience, anytime you see something that makes you say, “Well that’s interesting.” or “Oh I don’t quite understand that.” or “Oh, that’s strange!” that means the situation is laden with dollars and laden with opportunities.

Most people glance over those opportunities as simply an anomaly. I can say that five or six of the businesses that I have had the most success with have started with a strange little anomaly I’ve found success when I’ve have taken the time to listen and watch, ask why, and dig deeper.

4. Don’t accept the dogma. I have to chuckle a little at folks who are at peace with simply following the experts and accepting the status quo. I’m not saying that we don’t listen to those with expert opinion, but the reality is, we can’t accept everything as it is presented.

There are problems in the way we repeatedly approach learning and continually ask the same questions. With my youth that I help educate, one of the ten mandatory rules is “Don’t accept anything just because it was told to you.” You have to test it and prove it out and use logic for yourself.

5. Trust your gut, and test it. You can trust your gut and natural intuition, but once you discover that intuition…measure it and validate it.

You see, too frequently individuals attempt to do either one or the other. They attempt to say, “Oh I have a gut feel, therefore it’s true.” But think about how well that worked out for those who believed the world was flat.

On the other hand, if you just rely 100% on logic, you lose. The solution is to marry the heart and the head. In other words, rely on both intuition and scientific method. Test to see if your results can be reproduced. See if those results can be consistent.

Indeed, this is an art form combined with a science. These 5 steps work. I tell you they are the fundamental punch points of being able to come up with great ideas that then translate into success and then into dollars.

Just as Galileo of old took the time to observe, please and take the time to contemplate and understand the nuances of what is going on around you.

Never before have there been so many resources for us. Never before have there been so many opportunities for success. I look forward to hearing and seeing the great business ideas pop up around the world. Observe just like Galileo did in 1583.

The Linker Boys Return as Men

July 10th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Every once in a while you have joyous occasions in life. I’ve had more than my fair share in the last month or so. Between Guatemala and Father’s Day, it’s been pretty rock star. But today I’m sitting in the middle of a purely joyous moment.

Jeff Lewis just walked in the door. He’s spent the last two years in Iowa. Johnny just returned from Japan. And Scott and Wyatt both went to South Carolina. This is the first in over two years that I’ve been together here with these guys. Pure joy. 

This group was indeed my first four hires, and what we affectionately now refer to as “The Linker Boys”. They accomplished amazing things in our company Castlewave. In fact, they were kind of the secret sauce behind the Wizard of Oz and some of the things we accomplished in that organization. Castlewave was the test business when we were writing Bootstrap Business.

In keeping with this joyful moment, and now that we’ve captured all this great wisdom in one place, I’m going to ask each one of these boys to say something. Although I realize I can’t call them boys anymore. These guys are now men, as shown by their facial hair—except for Jeff and I (and we’re not talking about that!)

So here we have a snippet of advice (especially for young people or teenagers, but applicable to all) about creating business and doing business.

Johnny:
Never give up. Keep moving forward. When you wake up in the morning, remember to stay awake and not fall asleep back into the normal grind of things. Instead, always reach higher and see yourself as someone who can do something. I think when you fight and win that battle inside of your own mind, then you can win at any other battle in life.

And I’d like to add to that…Zig Zag!

Jeff:
I’ve learned that the quality of our prayers is really the biggest indicator of how successful and meaningful our life will be. So consider the quality of your prayers.

I’m Christian, my mentor is an atheist, and we work with people all over the world of different faiths. It doesn’t matter what or who you believe in–you should always call on your higher power.

And I’d also like to add to that…Zig Zag!

Scott:
One of my mottos has become “live and learn”. In combination with that Rich’s “work hard and play hard” principle. I’ve learned that life is about living and learning. Learning from our mistakes and then moving on. Also working to together and then playing hard together. It makes is a lot easier to excel and have a drive for life.

Of course, I’d like to add to that, Zig Zag. You actually just describe zig zag because we have a life balance but we push it to extremes. Cross the line of balance as frequently as possible. Work hard, play hard!

Wyatt:
Don’t be afraid of the unplanned. You’ll have lots of things planned in life and if you stick rigidly to a plan you will fail, but if you are willing to be flexible with the plan, and still stick as close to the plan as possible, while being flexible. That’s when you find success.

…And Zig Zag!

That’s wonderful and amazing advice from four young men. Watch these young men and the amazing things that they do.

We have in our office a wall that we call the “Live Strong, Die Hard. Defenders-of-the-Faith-Wall.” These four young men were the first people to have their photos posted up on that wall.

I expect amazing things from these four young men. Go forward and let’s knock it out of the park. What delightful time it is to have these little exchanges in life. I thoroughly enjoyed this moment with my young men.

Zig Zag is for Nuevo Conception

July 2nd, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

So I have a little confession to make…as I wrote The Zig Zag Principle, indeed I had great ambitions and interest in inspiring entrepreneurs and in providing a model for them. And the indeed it worked. I can say with boldness and with confidence that The Zig Zag Principle is a great business model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

I’ve been so thrilled and delighted with all the positive feedback that The Zig Zag Principle has received. Just last week I heard from a young man living in a small college town. He heard me speak and had the great idea to put together a business selling hotdogs and smoothies from a truck. He’s had so much revenue and success out of that, that he’s the rock star of the entire campus. Those stories delight me. I love to hear these stories.

But the stories that really rock my world are the stories that come out of third-world countries.

One and a half weeks ago I was in the Mayan highland jungles of Guatemala. We were a ten-hour ride from Guatemala City. We were basically out in the middle of nowhere, in a little village called Neuvo Conception. Here’s an amazing video created by one of the kids from the group.

As I spend time in that village, there was one individual that completely caught my attention–his name was Erwin Seirra. He is the agriculture field agent for Choice Humanitarian. Boy do they ever have a winner in Erwin. He optimizes the model of bootstrapping.

As we worked together and had a chance to talk throughout the week, I commented that all the work we were doing was really less effective than the impact and dialogue we were having with Erwin (including the mental and visual tools that he could use to change the entire paradigm of the village.)

You see us a foreigner going into a third-world country and giving them advice (if we could even communicate at all) is pretty meaningless.

Erwin however was respected.
He was handsome.
He was rugged.
He was incredibly intellectual.
He was a leader

As a matter of fact, I joked with Leah Barker, the SEO of Choice, if you ever don’t want Erwin–I’m hiring him. Indeed he was amazing. Plus, he was bootstrapping in every sense of the word.

Let me give you an example. He had solicited enough funds to buy a nice plot of land—a plot of this rich fertile Guatemalan soil. With that land he started raising cacao plants. Rather than wait until they matured to sell the cacao, he sold the plants. In that transaction he drove to profitability–his first zig.

His next step was that he brought in several workers, teaching them how to grow the plants and follow the steps.

The third zag is to begin growing the plants to maturity himself, so that he can begin producing this really rich, really refined high-end Mayan Cocoa (that’s something you’ll soon hear more about.)

I was able to sit and talk with Erwin for several hours as he was anxiously engaged via a translator. Erwin speaks Chickee, which is a native Mayan dialect (he also speaks Spanish.) Through a Spanish translator he was deeply interested and excited about The Zig Zag Principle.

I’m really excited to announce that during the coarse of a few hours we were able to go over the entire Zig Zag model. Erwin is living Zig Zag better than I’ve ever seen it executed. I’m excited to see these next phases and steps. I’m all in with Erwin. You’re going to hear and see more about Mayan cocoa, Guatemala, and Nuevo Conception in the weeks and months to come.

I need to tell you this: any impact we think we’re having with our little companies and businesses is great. It’s wonderful. It’s good. But when you’re working to carve out an education for your children’s hope or the ability to put meals on the table, it takes on a whole new definition.

I’m excited about the successes that have come for entrepreneurs here at home. But I’m absolutely ecstatic to hear when the zig zag principles are being applied in third world countries.

It’s what drives me.

It inspires me.

It passionately motivates me.

I look forward now to focusing my attention to on my education goal—the goal of educating 1000 young men and young women in third-world countries. And I invite you to join me in this wonderful quest of excitement.