Zig Zagging in Italy

August 17th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

I wanted to share a brief video from my latest trip. Me, my business partner, and our wives were enjoying a well-deserved vacation in the Mediterranean where we met a fascinating entrepreneur who, I believe, is the very epitome of a bootstrapper.

We met Petro who is the owner of Can’t Be Missed Tours on the train heading down to Florence. He and his team were handing out brochures to the passengers, inviting them to become his touring clients. This channel development strategy fascinated me and I had to learn more. In the video Petro and I talk about where he got his start, his business philosophy, and what the next steps are for his business.

 

Petro’s information for Can’t Be Missed Tours:

www.cantbemissedtours.com
info@cantbemissedtours.com
Petro’s Cell Phone: +39-329-129-8182

Blue Men Chauffeuring Prom: Penta Date on Bicycles Built for Two

May 21st, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

There are two key takeaways from today’s post.

1. It’s all in the marketing.
2. Surprise broca!

My son Nathan turned 16 on April 4th of this year and has been excited to begin dating and go on his first romantic excursion.

He indeed had several significant challenges.

  • Challenge #1: The law posed a problem. When you are 16 you can’t drive with other teens until you’ve driven with your parents for six months. Nathan and all of his friends had made great plans and had selected the girls they wanted to ask out, however they had no way to go and pickup these girls for the date. How do you overcome that?
  • Challenge #2: Budget. My sons and their friends have enough money to pay for the event, but not the craziness of a $1000 limousine and all the nonsense of an expensive prom. So budget was a constraint also.

Of course, Nathan is a very creative young man who has carefully observed his older brothers. He has also heard his father talking extensively about broca—the frontal cortex region of your brain. I often tell my sons that whenever you are marketing anything, you have to surprise broca and delight broca to get to the processing parts of your brain.

If everything is normal, normal, normal, and then you do something to surprise broca–the brain lets it through. It delights. That is how you get attention in marketing or anything else.

Nathan and his friends came up with a very well formulated plan. They each rented bicycles built for two, and they went and picked up their dates on these bikes. You can imagine the surprise and the delight of these young women as their dates pulled up on their bikes built for two.

They then pedaled up to a picnic setup with all sorts of contrast. They had everything from fancy, non-alcoholic apple juice and crème brûlée to regular old peanut butter sandwiches. They had a delightful time with a very contrasting meal

Then came the time for the formal prom. How in the heck is it okay for your dad to drive you? How obnoxious is that? So my son came up with another great plan to surprise broca.

He had my dear friend, Matt Duffin and me, dress up as blue men and serve as the chauffeurs. The only rule was we weren’t allowed to speak! We could do all the miming and gesturing we wanted, but we just couldn’t speak.

Let me tell you, we laid it on thick and had a blast!

Of course the kids experienced the tension that always accompanies a formal dance. I mean, young women weren’t meant to be in those frilly dresses. The young men take one look at the pretty girls and they instantly freeze.

It was fun to watch the tension dissolve as we hit our first stop sign. Matt and I got out and did a little fire drill jig running around the car in our blue man suits.

Needless to say the teenagers had a delightful time and Nathan indeed hit a broca homerun. While everyone else was pulling up in their fancy stretched limos, Nathan and his friends arrived in a minivan chauffeured by blue men.

Two rules: whether you’re wanting to romance someone or whether you’re wanting to win a marketing competition or whether you are trying to snag some attention online.

Rule #1: It is all in the marketing and presentation.
Rule #2: Always surprise broca!

Moms Launch a Business

May 15th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

In light of Mothers Day yesterday, I’d like to take minute to highlight a group of mothers that I work with. Anyone who pays much attention to me has likely heard me comment that, “I love my moms!” Their story is indeed fun, and the story keeps getting more interesting and inspiring the longer I work with them.

When I first assembled this mom team a couple of years ago, I promised these women the chance to build their own businesses, and do you know what they did? They kind of blushed and laughed and said they couldn’t do it.

Now here we are two years later, and these moms have launched their first business. It’s called BeautySecrets101.com, a site where women can sign up to receive Ali’s Bling Box—a box full of name-brand fashion and beauty products for 50% to 70% off the retail price.

What’s the story? How did they go from giggling and questioning if they could run a business to successfully launching a big time beauty site?

First of all, these women are smart, talented, and passionate about learning and acheiving. They spent time zig zagging. They learned to drive traffic and manage a group of 80 Websites in the highly competitive coupon genre. They took ad campaigns from zero to full force. They sent press releases, built websites, and tracked financials. They fought off malware and struggled with Google algo changes. As they did this I watched their confidence and excitement for building and managing businesses grow. Now when I challenge them to launch a new business they jump on it.

Since the team is made up of moms their number one value is flexibility. Another value is “beleive in it” which means concentrating their efforts on businesses they are passionate about—which is exactly what they are doing with BeautySecrets101.com and the Bling Box.

The Beacon in the Fog for this mom team is to become financially stable and independent. As mothers they face unique challenges from my other teams. During meetings it’s not uncommon for someone to excuse herself to change a diaper or clean up spilled milk. One woman is working to support her family while simultatiously providing care for a terminally ill spouse. There’s PTA and carpool and bedtime stories. But in between it all there’s this passion to sell the Bling Box and to build this business to the point of providing for themselves.

So here we are one day after Mothers Day—and I’m rooting for this team of intellient, beautiful mothers because I’m delighted in their progress and their strength. Please join me in saying, “Go Moms!”

Engage With Us – 12 Books Group

April 26th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

 

I am excited to be a part of the 12 Books Group this next month as their featured author during the month of May. Please come join us as we dig deeper into The Zigzag Principle. You won’t want to miss the exclusive giveaways, bonus materials, and excellent discussion with me and other readers.

This really is a unique opportunity because you are going to get a chance to glean knowledge from 8 different business authors from May through December. This will load you with great information to add to your zigzag strategy. 

Go to www.12booksgroup.com to sign up for a free account and keep checking in for reader discussion, video tips from me, and a live Q&A webinar at the end of the month. 

 

I hope you will come join us! 

 

 

 

April 24th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Last week at the Gathering of the Titans I met some incredible people. One person I had the great priviledge of talking with was Bo Eason, of football fame (and much more). He’s a phenominal speaker. If you’ve ever seen him, you’d remember him as entertaining, motivating, and completely memorable. Here’s a short snippet of Bo and I talking about his style and how to present information today. It’s truly informative with a huge dash of comedy.

 

Rich: Hello everyone. I’m here with Bo Eason and we’re at the Gathering of the Titans. I’ve spoken several times with Bo and I always love to hear him. Bo’s got a really interesting background. He’s come out of the NFL. Bo’s one of the most articulate individuals I’ve ever met and he’s done really a lot of play work. He’s did “Runt of the Litter”, which was an amazing play. But I was fascinated and captivated by what Bo had to say this week. Bo, I want you to tell everyone the phase coming up is and why we need to be able to tell our story.

Bo: Yeah, the phase coming up in our era – we’ve just left the information age. That’s what all the futurists have predicted. And we’re stepping into what they’re calling the transformational age, or the “storytelling” age. So the key to the “key to the kingdom” now, “the golden goose” now is the ability to share yourself, the ability to tell your own story. Because you, as an entrepreneur and a business owner, you are the owner and the global brand and the face and the mouth of your business. So you’ve got to be able to share yourself. What we’re finding is that the more people are able to share themselves, and share their personal life story, with clients or potential clients, they’re making a lot more money and making a lot more difference out there.

Rich: And I think that’s absolutely true. And I think we all intuitively know that and until you see Bo move like…

Bo: vicious tigers on the stage!

Rich: talking about Rick Sapio being a monkey. It’s really interesting how you draw on the animal kingdom to do this. And I don’t even dare, but I’m going to because I’m vulnerable and at risk with my audience here. What animal am I? The big million dollar question…

Bo: Yeah, you’re some kind of predator cat.

Rich: Well, oh, okay. I’m good with that. As long as we’re keeping within the family.

Bo: Yeah, that’s right. I want you to work on that – that predator cat.

Rich: Okay, yeah we’re going to talk more about that offline. Because we’re not going to give all of your secrets away. So, hey everyone, Bo is a great guy, you’re going to love him. I want you to go to the link below and find out a little more about Bo. Great stuff here. Fundamentally aligns with the Pendulum – the concept of swinging back now into a community-type society. You’re going to love it.

Return with Honor

March 20th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

On December 26, 1990 I rushed my wife to the hospital where she gave birth to our first son, John. I remember the excitement, the joy, and also the weight that came on me when my son first looked at me and I realized that this boy was now dependant upon me.

We took him home to our small basement apartment. The heat wasn’t working, so we turned the oven on and we baked that young man like a Thanksgiving turkey! We set him in front of the oven and got up every hour to check on him. The years that followed have been an absolute joy.

This young man has been a strong, good, honorable son. For the last two years my son John has been serving a mission in Japan.

Approximately one year ago we were woken up at three o’clock in the morning by a well-intending neighbor who asked, “Is John alive?” At that point we ask, “What are you talking about?” Then of course we were informed of the earthquake and the resulting sunami that hit Japan.

Johnny was a part of the cleanup and actively involved in some of the rescue, recovery, and service that took place in the devastated area.

Well, several days ago our entire family went up to the airport to welcome John home. He disembarked the plane, came downstairs to the waiting area, and immediately his mother ran to him and hugged this young man exactly like he was a newborn.

At that moment I actually realized that this young man has reached a new phase where he is the responsible one. He is now able to lead and go forward and teach me great things.

I have to tell you there is no greater honor than having a young man that does good—one who is service oriented, one who is goal oriented, and one who goes forward to do good in the world. It is thrilling to have a son return with honor and at the same time, set a good example for his younger brothers.

One of the businesses that we created as part of the Zig Zag Principle was a business started by Johnny. The last couple years while he’s been off serving, his younger brothers have been running the business. I pay respect and honor to Johnny. I respect him for not only sacrificing to go and live a humble, meager existence and to do good for these years, but I praise him for having the courage to follow the Zig Zag Principle and set up a business.

The final chapter in the Zig Zag Principle is The All or Nothing Trap. Indeed this week highlighted that the most valuable things in life are our family, our friends, and our trust relationships. I hope each of you experience the joys of family too.

I wish my son and this young businessman find success. I look for more incredible things to come from him.

A Vegas Getaway – Zig Zag Principle #66

March 15th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Eating Own Cooking:

Last year my wife and I went on a little getaway to Las Vegas.  We had booked our hotel online, and we got a great rate on your normal room at one of the nicest hotels in Vegas.  When we checked in, the woman at the front desk took a liking to us.  She saw that we were on a romantic getaway, and she mentioned that most of the regular rooms were booked for a business convention.  As she handed us our key cards, she mentioned she had upgraded our room, adding, “I am not going to tell you about the room now.  You can thank me later when you see it.”

When we opened the door to our room, we gasped.  She had upgraded our $69 room to one of the presidential suites.  It was on the twenty-seventh floor and had a 180-degree view of Las Vegas.  The suite was 2,200 square feet.  It came with an entryway, a formal dining area, a living area, a huge bedroom, and two bathrooms.  My favorite part was the master bath suite.  It had an all-glass shower and a huge hot tub that overlooked the city.  And we did, indeed, thank this very kind front-end manager.

When I came back after this spectacular vacation with my wife, I was describing to Curtis this hotel we stayed in.  At this point in our business, Curtis was still working full time in his other job, and we were not making the progress we wanted in this new partnership.  As we chatted, it hit me that I knew what would motivate Curtis.  He wanted to take his wife on a vacation and stay at the same hotel my wife and I had just enjoyed—and in the same room!

I told him I had a reward in mind, and we made a list of four or five things that needed to happen.  We posted this list in the hall of our office, along with a picture of this fantastic resort.  The goal was that when those five steps were achieved and our business was stabilized, Curtis could quit his job and come into the business full time.  But equally rewarding to him was that he could also take his wife on an all expense paid trip to stay in this same hotel.  I found a picture of this hotel and drew stick figures of Curtis and his wife staying on the twenty-seventh floor and enjoying the view.  I even added a picture of its world-renowned restaurant because I knew his wife likes to dine at exclusive restaurants.  On the bottom of my artwork, I added a deadline of thirty-five days to earn this reward.  Curtis was salivating, even though we were not sure how this was going to happen.  But we did reach each of our goals, and Curtis and his wife did get to have a fantastic vacation.  And my reward was that I now had him working with me in our business full time.  

 

 

Rewards Must Be Earned – Zig Zag Principle #64

March 1st, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Don’t Give Out Rewards Until They are Actually Earned

Being a fundamentally nice guy, I have made the mistake multiple times of giving a reward when the performance didn’t warrant it.  Every time that I have done this, I have ended up regretting it.  Even though you may feel for a minute that you’ve done the right thing, you’ve likely created a pattern and behavior system that will bite you in the end.  In some cases, being “nice” has been the death knell of my businesses. 

My family and I have traveled to Nepal several times, and I am always overwhelmed by the rampant poverty.  Like anyone who has traveled there, I have been approached countless times by small children who must beg in the streets for what little they have, and I always ponder what I—as one person with limited means—can do to help. 

The last time we were there, several young beggars followed my sons, our two Sherpas, and me everywhere we went.  They were filthy, and their ragged clothes were soaked with urine.  They approached us repeatedly, gesturing to their mouth and then their stomach to show us they were hungry. 

I believe that giving a person a handout does little to change his or her circumstances, but it broke my heart to see these small boys, who were about the ages of my younger boys.  Then I hit upon an idea.

We were in the middle of a central square where countless people gather each day to worship and shop.  While there are numerous trash cans in the square, no one seems to use them, and the area is covered with what looks like years of debris.  I decided I could solve two problems at once, so I offered one of the beggars 100 rupees (about $1.40) for every bag of trash he picked up and put in a trash can.  Given that the daily income for an adult in Nepal is about $2, that seemed like a powerful incentive.

What I was asking would have taken a couple of minutes, but this little boy looked at me like I was nuts and ran off.  Another little boy approached me, and I made the same offer.  He indicated he would do it, but wanted payment up front.  Now, I may be a soft touch, but I’m not stupid, so I told him he would get paid upon completion of the work.  He, too, ran off.

The third boy who approached me was the dirtiest and scrawniest of the bunch.  I really thought my plan had merit, so I upped the offer to 500 rupees.  His initial reaction was to give me a look that said, “No one picks up trash.  Not even beggars.  What kind of crazy American are you?”  But this time, I grabbed a bag and started picking up trash myself.  He soon joined in, and was stuffing trash into his bag as quickly as he could.  There was so much trash that our efforts were like trying to drain a pond using a teaspoon, but we were at least doing something to make a dent.  And soon others were joining in, including a gentleman who runs a humanitarian organization who saw my impetuous project as having some potential.

When we finished working and I paid the boy, he couldn’t have been more proud.  And several shopkeepers around the square began making similar offers to other boys who clearly were in need.

I realize that we made a very small dent in the problems of world hunger and cleaning up the environment that day.  But I also know that those who watched, including my sons, learned that rewards need be based on our efforts, not our wishes—and that the right reward system can provide the motivation to get to work and make a difference.

Designing A Good Rewards System – Zig Zag Principle #62

February 16th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Keep Your System Simple

It’s important to not overcomplicate your system of goals and rewards.  In one of my early ventures, I created a chart that had eighteen different targets to hit and a simple “REWARD” written across the top.   My employees were unclear as to what the priorities were and what the reward would be.  I have found it’s best to have three or four target goals to hit, with a very specific reward at the end.  The goals we typically fail to achieve are the ones that are complex and unclear.

Employees should also feel free to devise their own systems (within reason, of course).  My son and his friends came up with their own motivating reward.  They had a Burger King crown they kept in the office.  They were all highly competitive, and they would have contests to see which one could create the most web links on a given day.  The winner then got to wear the crown.  The reward didn’t cost me anything, and it was fun to see these seventeen-year-old boys engage in an all-out push to optimize their web sites, just for the reward of wearing a paper crown. 

One of the benefits of having a team set its own goals and rewards is that the members learn to govern their own behavior.  That way I don’t have to micromanage my teams.  

Avoid the Entitlement Mentality

When I was managing Mitsubishi Electric, I was still young and not completely financially stable myself.  I had an awesome killer team that was also young and hungry.  I began the practice of taking them out to lunch every Friday.  I would pay for their lunch myself because I didn’t feel the company should have that expense.  This was my personal way of showing my appreciation.  A few months into this, I ended up in a tough stretch where I was traveling almost nonstop.  As a result, there were a few Fridays where we didn’t make it to lunch.  Soon, there was muttering and complaining.  Morale dropped.  These employees had become so accustomed to going to lunch each Friday that they felt they were entitled to this perk.  What started as a good intention led to my being the bad guy because I did not consistently provide them with their expected lunch.

I had a similar experience with my crew of teenagers.  I would stock the fridge with food and soda pops so they could grab something to eat after they finished school and before they started to work.  A few times we got so busy I failed to replenish the quickly consumed food items.  Almost immediately, some of the boys started murmuring, “I can’t believe it, there aren’t any burritos or Hot Pockets in the fridge.”  If I have erred, it is because sometimes I have rewarded too quickly or too often.

Allow For Some Flexibility

Situations change, and sometimes you need to change with them.  I’ve lived through shifts in markets where even though my team gave an incredible effort, they fell a bit short of the original goal.  In those situations I still gave the reward so the team didn’t lose steam.  However, be careful not to reward when the reward is not merited.

I employ a group of mothers who work for me from their homes.  They are motivated and hard working.  I told them once that if they had ten consecutive days of making $500 in profit, I would give each of them a large bonus.  These women worked their hearts out.  At the end of the period, I saw that while they were only clearing $300 to $400 on the weekdays, on the weekend their profits were $800 to $1,000.  Even though they did not have the ten consecutive days, on an average they were well over the target I had set.  I told them that in this instance, average really does count for something, and they earned their reward.

 

 

Find the Right Motivations – Zig Zag Principle #61

February 8th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen


incentivesWhat Will Motivate Your People?

Before developing your system of rewards, remember that what motivates one person may not motivate the next.  When I was general manager of About.com’s web services division, I had a highly talented engineer named Earl who worked for me.  He was, without question, one of our brightest engineers, but I continually struggled to figure out how to motivate this guy.  I regularly gave out bonuses, rewards, and incentives that everyone else loved, but Earl did not seem to care.  Nothing I offered seemed to motivate him, and I knew his contributions were affected by his apathy toward my rewards system. 

As we were planning our first Christmas party, I finally figured out what motivated Earl.  During a planning session, he asked if he could play a piano number for the entertainment.  I didn’t think much about it, but told him that would be fine.  The night of the Christmas party, Earl walked in, all decked out in a tuxedo, complete with flowing tails.  When he sat down to play the piano, it was clear he cared deeply about his performance, and he delivered his delightful number with the flare of a concert pianist.  Everyone cheered and clapped for him, and then he stood up and gave an overly exaggerated bow.  From that point forward, I knew what motivated him.  He didn’t care about things or money.  He loved recognition and any opportunity to perform and take a bow.

As the New Year began, I implemented what I dubbed “Lunch and Learn with Earl.”  Twice each month, we’d have a Lunch and Learn where the company would buy lunch and the junior engineers could visit with this master engineer.  They would ask him questions, he would impart his wisdom, and at the end they would all clap and Earl would beam.  The junior engineers learned a great deal from Earl, and Earl loved the recognition.  Productivity went through the roof. 

I had another employee who would always get really excited about the rewards I proposed, but before she achieved her goal, she would simply go out and buy the same thing she was going to be rewarded with.  And while she did good work, I knew she could be doing far more.  This pattern caused me immense frustration, but I finally found out that what she really wanted was for us to pay for her tuition at school and call it a scholarship.  By listening carefully to things she said, I learned that her parents had plenty of money, but they had always drilled into their children how they had gone through college on scholarships.  This young woman had good grades, but because she had no real financial need, she hadn’t been able to get a scholarship.  So, I developed a reward system that provided her with the scholarship she so desperately wanted.  

It’s also important to figure out what the people you are trying to motivate do not want.  I’ve learned that a reward for one person may actually feel like a punishment for another.  A few years ago, we established a reward for the young men who were working for CastleWave to go to Las Vegas and see the Blue Man Group.  We set up a very specific goal and also very specific rewards, which included going to the Stratosphere and riding on a roller coaster set atop of one of the tallest hotels that juts out over the city.  These boys, with one exception, worked extra hard because they loved the idea of this trip.  When they weren’t focused on the work, it was all they talked about. The exception happened to be a different personality type.  He was one of our key engineers who was a little shy and did not like big crowds.  In fact, the thought of going to Las Vegas with a bunch of loud teenagers couldn’t have been less motivating. 

Gratefully, he came to me and let me know that he really did not want to go on this trip. So, I found something else that motivated this engineer, and took the other boys when they reached their goal.  If I had ignored his needs, the outcome might have been tragic.  He was a key member of the team, and he could have subconsciously tried to sabotage the goal for the rest of the group because he did not want to go on the trip.

Zig Zagging in Russia

February 7th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

This morning I had a delightful conversation with an individual named William Hackett Jones. For the last three or four years I watched with great respect for William as he carved himself out of an almost impossible situation.

Several years back I taught a course on Bootstrap Business. William was there. He runs a translation service, and he was actually on the verge of declaring bankruptcy over in Russia. Then he learned about the principles I follow and changed his course. He came to the firm conclusion that indeed Bootstrapping and Zig Zagging was the methodology that he wanted to follow.

So now without any venture capital and without any funding, William has truly subscribed to the Value Equation. It goes something like this:

Value Equation

Intellectual Capital (value of being smart)

+

Relationships Capital (value of those great relationships that he had developed)

+

Not Taking Funding

=

Adding Value that indeed helped build his business

I am thrilled to state that although it took William several years he has grown that business. He’s taken it from being on the very cusp of bankruptcy to thriving business (one that is also projected to be a million-dollar business this year).

William is now preparing to hire his first executive admin, which means he is now at the critical phase of adding resources and processes. It is all very exciting for me.

I must admit it was really fun to listen to the lightness in William’s as we talked, compared to the conversation that we had a year or so ago.

It is really fun to see the fruits of the labors of those around me. It’s always fun and exciting to have a business succeed. But it is even more exciting to see others applying these powerful Zig Zag Principles from the book, as well as those from Bootstrap Business. The success stories that are now starting to flow back to me are absolutely thrilling.

I respect you William. I look for great things. You have a great bright future in front of you. You are definitively making this zig zag turn. Hold strong. We will be watching you carefully. And I will give everyone an update on the success that William has going forward. Keep Zig Zagging in Russia.

Cherry On Top

January 24th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

A young man named Tanner Greenwood currently works for me. He’s a fine young man—a hard worker with bright eyes and good intent. This week Tanner has had a hard, rotten, no good, very bad, good-for-nothing week.

It seemed like everything was going wrong for him. He had some car problems, and then some more car problems. The car locked up on the freeway. He had a couple personal issues that didn’t go well. He got a severe case of the flu. Just about everything this week seemed not to be going very well for Tanner. On top of all of that he wasn’t able to come into work this week, and I felt real concern for him.

Then today I pulled up in the parking lot just as Tanner arrived. I could tell from his swagger that he was down just a little bit. I also happened to know that Tanner is really a hard-core rock climber. I whimsically thought, “You know Tanner, we’re going to go up to the Outdoor Retailer Show.”

Then without much more thought, I had him jump in the car and we went up to the show. We got in and he just kind of hung out. It was a fairly good day, and then at the end of the day we went into The North Face booth, and low and behold, who was there, but Conrad Anker.

For those of you who don’t know him, he’s a world premier, high altitude, vertical-face climber. Anker is the individual who discovered Mallory’s body on Everest. He’s also the one who climbed the third step without the ladder. He’s the only one in the history of the world who has ever done that. He also just got done doing an epic climb in the Himalayas that was previously deemed impossible.

So there was Conrad. I recognized him, and went up and talked to him for a little bit and I told him about Tanner. He was so generous. He sat down and talked with Tanner, took a picture, and signed a poster. We were able to hear a couple stories, and ask him if he thought Mallory was able to make it up and over that third step on Everest before he died. (He said he didn’t believe so.)

We just talked and had a couple really delightful moments, and then as we were walking out of The North Face booth, up walks a few other very well-known climbers, including Russell Brice, the very well-known coordinator who is very good at coordinating and helping get people up Everest.

Tanner really enjoying the day and as we were driving back to the office, I heard him mumble under his breath—“The week was worth it!”

I’ve thought a lot about that statement.

I think we all get in these situations where there are horrible, miserable, rotten, good for nothing, hard days (and sometimes weeks). Often just when we get to the point of totally despair, we get these little wonderful cherry-on-top-of-the-dessert moments that end up making all of it worthwhile. Thank heavens for those little cherries that make the pain the misery that we have to go through, worth it.

The reality is that most of our business dealings and most of our day-to-day lives are somewhat mundane. There’s a lot of grinding it out.

Some people think being an entrepreneur is all sexy and hot and flashy all the time. The reality is that more often than not, it’s about slogging it out and just punching it out. Many times it’s just about enduring to those occasions where you get to have your picture taken with Conrad Anker.

My hat is off to you Tanner Greenwood. You’re a fine young man and I expect wonderful things for you in the future. I’m happy you had a wonderful day and that you had this experience. 

Pain Before the Prize

January 10th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

In the conclusion of Bootstrap Business, I told a story of a young man named Jonathon. I was deeply touched with his story because he had the support of his wife and was willing to make the sacrifice to become an entrepreneur.

This past week, I was delighted when Jonathon called and asked to come visit me. There’s no way I’m going to turn down a visit from Jonathon because he’s taken the enduring path of entrepreneurship. In deed the last three or four years have been difficult for this man.

I talk about how in the early days; my wife and I lived on potatoes and love. Jonathon had been in that phase too, where his wife had to cut out makeup and their family had reduced the budget dramatically in order to keep the entrepreneurial dream alive.

I was so delighted as I looked at a very weary, very battle haggard, very tired Jonathon. It was very evident as he walked into my office that he had arrived at the first phase of Profitability and was well on the path of a successful venture. He knew it, and I knew it!

Jonathon has turned the corner and is now in the Process Phase where he is developing processes and adding resources. He just wanted a few clarifying pointers.

During our meeting he had made the comment to me, “Rich, I didn’t have any idea that it was this hard.” Then we shared one of those moments that I call an “earning your stripes moments”.

I want to say boldly that it is hard, but that anything in life that is worth having is hard. I still stick to the statement that I know of no better way to control your emotional, your personal, and your financial life and control your destiny, than by becoming an entrepreneur.

Of course I will tell you that figuring out what it takes and figuring out those first few models is hard—even if you have and The Zig Zag Principle or even if you’ve read Bootstrap Business. It takes going into the unknown and it will make you weary, but it is worth it.

And it does become easier.

Well, maybe not easier—but you do acclimate to it, and you will learn to get through the sequences more quickly.

I’m proud of you Jonathon, and I Look forward to seeing incredible thing from you in the future. You’ve earned your stripes.

Now, the rest of you…get with it! Go start something you’re passion about. Maybe even have a couple grand-little failures. Just make sure you follow my advice and fail efficiently. And as you work toward your goal, I’d love to hear about it.

Congratulations Jonathon!

Victories

November 1st, 2011 by Rich Christiansen

What an amazing journey The Zig Zag Principle has been!

I want to so publicly acknowledge and thank all of you that have been involved in this great endeavor. 

There are two types of victory.  There is the private victory and there’s the public victory.  I am so thrilled about the public victory! We hit the bestselling lists!

- We were #3 overall on Amazon the day the book was released. On Amazon we also hit:
- #1 on the Movers and Shakers list
- #1 in Business Management
- #1 in the Motivational category
- #1 in Entrepreneurship
- #1 in Psychology and Counseling
- #1 in the category Life

We are #5 overall on the USA Today list.

And the public victory I am really excited about is that The Zig Zag Principle is the #6 bestselling book in Inc. Magazine

These listings stand for great public successes and victories. But the successes that I am the most excited about, is you.  I love the private successes. 

I get to hear the stories from individuals who are wresting control of their life. I love the stories of people take back their life—both emotionally and financially. These are the success stories that I am the most excited about. 

I thank you again so much for your support in The Zig Zag Principle and I hope that you will join me in having a zig zag, joyful, amazing, successful life.  Thanks again so much for supporting me on The Zig Zag Principle. Go forward and have a great prosperous life.

Lessons from Marriott

October 10th, 2011 by Rich Christiansen

We often hear about the Apples, the YouTubes and other such companies that nail a market and see instant success. However, most people cannot plan to see this sort of instantaneous success. Rather, you may have to start out like the Marriott Hotels did: as a nine-stool root beer stand.

Early in J. Willard Marriott’s life, he thought like he would be a sheepherder like his father. However, the sheepherding industry took a big hit, bankrupting his father, so he decided to go to college. When he didn’t have the money for tuition, he looked at what hidden assets and resources he had and offered to teach religion classes at the university to pay for his tuition. He considered what he had and used his skills to get him to his goal without debt.

After Marriott graduated, he remembered a business opportunity he noticed years before as a church missionary in Washington D.C. He remembered how thirsty he always got in the summer and thought how well a root beer stand could do, so he went out to Washington D.C. with his wife and opened a nine-stool root beer stand.

The stand did very well during the summer, but business fell as flat as day-old soda as winter approached. Marriott zigzagged and started selling hot Mexican food at his root beer stand to keep business going. From there, he scaled the business and built more of the stands, expanding them into full restaurants and making the very first drive-through on the east coast.

Marriott was a pioneer in other businesses, too. He noticed how people would often come to his restaurant from the airport, buy a box lunch and then take it on the plane with them. Marriott started making the box lunches ahead of time and sold them to the airlines – the first in-flight meals. During World War II when sales were down, he started selling food to government cafeterias to keep things going.

And then, 30 years after Marriott first started his business, he opened his first motel.

Just look at all those zigzags! For 30 years, Marriott slowly and steadily built his business from nothing. It wasn’t a fast, easy process, but instead a legacy of hard work and brilliant successes. Then consider where his company is now, more than 75 years later. If he tried to build one of the largest hotel chains in the world when he first graduated with only a tiny amount of resources, no doubt he would have failed. However, by zigzagging, he managed to achieve that goal and so much more.

What can you learn from Marriott? Don’t be afraid to zigzag! Keep an eye out for new opportunities and chase after them whenever you are able. Even if it means doing something you’re less comfortable with, it may just be the path that will take you and your business to greater success.