Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Are you a mindful entrepreneur?

Local Singapore boy Chade Meng-Tan has made it to the highest ranks of Google, yet he’s not recognised for his exceptional engineering talent (which he clearly has), but is globally recognised and sought out for his contribution to the field of mindful leadership.
"A mindful leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity, and compassion in the service of others. …It requires full and complete non-judgemental attention in the present moment. Those around a mindful leader see and feel that presence" so says the Institute of Mindful Leadership.
Chade Meng-Tan was responsible for developing Google’s ‘Search Inside Yourself’ course back in 2007. Today, the waiting list for this in-house Google course can be up to 6 months. Most major companies from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Intel to Apple, Starbucks and Yahoo are using some forms of mindfulness as a business tool.
Mindfulness is about consciously paying attention to where you are, who you’reworking with and how you are impacting the now. By being present, managers can have a greater awareness of the value of their actions with those around them. Mountains of data exist to prove that mindfulness, both personal and professional, reduces stress and boosts clarity and concentration and thereby enhances leadership.
Here’s a couple of key exercises entrepreneurs can do to bring about calmness, clarity and compassion that will serve you well in life and business.


Putting aside a few minutes of your day to do a brief breathing meditation routine is one of the easiest ways to cultivate mindfulness. Sit still and observe your breath as it goes in and out of your lungs. Just observe and focus on your breath. Any creeping thoughts that enter your head (which they will, seemingly relentlessly!) should be banished as you consciously return to your breath. Whether it’s for 15 minutes or 60 seconds, you should experience a degree of immediate calm.

Eliminate rush

Swap your multitasking for delegation. Pare back the number of fronts that you are operating on and focus on what is most important. By eliminating needless rush you can focus on matters and people that are before you, here and now.
Dorotea Brandin, a Singapore based author and entrepreneur, says that mindfulness for SME’s “… should not be misunderstood as fire fighting by reacting as best we can to present circumstances. It is instead a state of being where you slow down and where you are perceptive to your own emotions as well as those of others.”

Take a break

Spend time in nature. Recharging your batteries through a short walk through a park or along the coast where you might also listen to your breath can be of huge benefit to your focus and attention span, making this time for your mental landscape is healthy and habit forming. Thinking thoughts of kindness and compassion whilst you take your break will re-invigorate you.

Cultivate compassion

Chade Meng-Tan swears by compassion. He says highly effective people feel you, understand you and want to help you. Empathising with those around you inhibits excessive self-obsession and creates humility. Compassion grows high-level leaders.
Ask yourself how you can be of value to those around you? What will make them happy? How can you make a difference to someone’s day? By consciously empathising and feeling for those around you on a regular basis you form the habit of compassion. Cultivate compassion.
So next time you find yourself a few spare moments amidst the hustle and bustle of business, resist the urge to pull out your phone and instead, take a moment to listen to your breathing, focus on clearing your mind and just take time to empty your mind.
In fact, before you share this article with someone who needs it, take a couple of minutes to yourself right now…

by Callum Laing

Source: TechInAsia

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why Embracing Uncertainty Is Critical To Your Success

It’s official: We live in uncertain times.
Just pick up today’s paper and the headlines are screaming with news that let’s us know we are living uncertain times. Economic instability. Corporate restructures. Shifting tectonic plates.
There’s no doubt about it, uncertainty can be uncomfortable. We human beings are wired to want to control our environment. We enjoy the stability that comes from having continuity between our past and future, a future that is familiar, stable and predictable. We like to feel that we are masters of our own ship, in control of our fate, and so it’s entirely natural to find ourselves feeling a little out of sorts when our future becomes an unknown quantity.
But as much as we may try to do otherwise, it is impossible to  chart a certain path through uncertain waters. The reality is that in our fast changing, unpredictable and accelerated workplace and world, it’s those who are willing to embrace uncertainty and take decisive action, risky action, despite the many “unknowns” who will reap the greatest rewards.
When I first left my parents’ dairy farm at 18 to move to “the city” for college, I was part excited, part terrified and completely outside my comfort zone.  What lay ahead was all unknown.  But as I found then and countless times since, no worthwhile aspiration can be accomplished without surrendering the comforts of the familiar. Only in giving up the security of the known can we create new opportunities, grow capability, build confidence and expand our influence.

It’s a lesson that was reinforced in my interviews with accomplished leaders across a diverse range of fields while researching my second book Stop Playing Safe. While each person had forged their own unique path to success – either up an organizational ladder or as an entrepreneur – the common thread of wisdom they all shared was that in today’s competitive and fast changing workplace, we can never hope to achieve success unless we’re willing to embrace the unknown and get comfortable with the innate discomfort of risk taking.

Creating a Road Map to Business Success

Starting a new business venture from scratch can sometimes feel like jumping out of an airplane and assembling the parachute on the way down. That's because, as is often the case, business success happens largely through trial and error. And that's where a road map comes in handy -- yours should help you so you don’t get stuck.
If your path is like most people's, here’s how it will proceed:
  • You'll start out with a personal road map, and when you find your passion, you'll develop a business road map.
  • Your journey will start at point A, but point B will not be linear: There's often no straight line between the two.
  • You'll plant seeds to achieve your personal goals and see which ones grow. When you find one that does, you'll chart a course to follow that growth.
  • Should that growth become a passion, and a business, you'll then plant more seeds (typically, more calculated ones) within your business, to see which ones work. This is the start of your business road map.
Don’t be afraid to aim high. Google wasn’t built in a day, and you won't reach your primary goal in a short time, either. In your business, production, marketing, sales and other departments will have to establish their responsibilities. Budgets will need to be created and adjusted. Products and services will need to be developed. Sales will need to be made, and orders fulfilled.
All these incremental activities are necessary to reach your goal. You’ll want to focus on the pieces of the journey as you build your road map, not just the end goal or the quickest way to get from point A to B.
Of course, not all incremental steps will go as planned. That won't be the end of the world or necessarily a major failure. Instead, the next thing on the horizon will be where you can refocus your attention, within the scheme of the larger goal of building and running a successful company. Each new incremental goal will become your next mountain to climb as you travel the road to your final goal.

12 Steps to Go From Employee to Entrepreneur

If you’re fed up with your job, it may seem like there are only two steps to becoming an entrepreneur. The first is to quit your job, and the next step is to start a company. While it is possible to transition successfully from employee to entrepreneur, it’s a little more complex than that.
Here are the 12 steps you’ll need to take to become your own boss.

1. Determine what you’d like to do.

Some people call this finding your passion, but it’s more than that. Think about your skills, abilities and experience. Consider what you can realistically see yourself doing for hours each day, for weeks and years.

2. Think about what others will pay for.

A viable business is the intersection between what you’d like to do and what others will pay for. Remember the “Jump to Conclusions Mat” from the movie Office Space? Todd loved building it, but no one was going to buy it. It wasn’t a viable business opportunity.

3. Interview ideal customers.

Find a few people that you think would be your ideal clients. Ask them about their biggest needs, fears and aspirations related to the business idea you plan to pursue. Are the benefits of your product or service in line with their real needs? Also, make a note of the words they use, as they’ll eventually help make your marketing more authentic.

4. Design your marketing and business plans.

Today’s marketing involves content creation, social media, email outreach and more. Make sure you know how you’ll approach each of these alternatives to introduce your idea to customers. At the same time, lay out a business plan that details how you intend your business to function. It doesn’t need to be super formal, but it does need to cover your operating structure, product, delivery systems and expansion plans.

Monday, July 20, 2015

13 Secrets to Success from Serial Entrepreneurs

Credit: design36/Shutterstock
For most entrepreneurs, starting and running one successful business during their career is enough of a challenge. But for serial entrepreneurs — those who start, run and often sell multiple businesses — the thrill of startup life is too appealing to do it only once.
These founders have mastered the art of growing a business from the ground up, and therefore have a lot of wisdom to impart to current and aspiring entrepreneurs. Whether you just want to focus on the one business you have or dream of launching several companies in the future, here's what you can learn from 13 successful serial entrepreneurs.
Hannibal Baldwin, co-founder and CEO of SiteZeus (previous company — Baldwin Beach Capital): "I believe the success of progressive entrepreneurship lies within ... identifying and understanding the gap worth solving, the system-level technology or design to solve that gap and the business and financial intelligence to execute with strategic speed."
Steve Gefter, managing director of IDDS Group (previous company — TSG Management): "Serial entrepreneurs have a mindset unlike anyone else; they are entrepreneurs on steroids. A 'get it done' work ethic is the most essential trait. Starting a business takes a lot — financially, emotionally and physically. To start one business requires a 'roll up your sleeves' mentality, so imagine what it takes to start five or 10. You either have it or you don't; and the most successful serial entrepreneurs do."
Devaraj Southworth, CEO of Thirstie (previous companies — Tailfin Ventures, iThinkLabs, 30Seven Design): "I watched [my grandfather] build his own business, Gotham Button Company, from an early age. He loved his business and the people that helped build it with him. What I remember the most was that he was always striving to do things better. I knew the road of the entrepreneur wasn't going to be easy, and that chances of success were very small, but I also knew it was the path I wanted and needed to try. Anyone can have a great idea, but turning that idea into a reality and executing on it is the difference between success and failure. For any entrepreneur, anything is possible, as long as you work incredibly hard, stick to your vision and build the right team."

4 Tips to Help Entrepreneurs Succeed

Many first-time entrepreneurs think their first steps should be to build a product or service and raise money to turn it into a successful business. But most experienced entrepreneurs and experts of entrepreneurial practices believe this thinking is wrong. They say the first thing an entrepreneur should do is validate that his or her idea solves a real existing problem in the marketplace.
Very few ideas ever survive the first contact with a customer, said Bill Mayer, vice president of entrepreneur services at Ann Arbor Spark. This is because entrepreneurs are often engineers, tinkerers or inventors who come up with ideas for things that they think everyone will love and buy. They don’t take the time to prove their concepts will address the needs of those who are not getting the job done. Consequently, most ideas fail.
Before they start building their products or services, entrepreneurs should talk to dozens of people they think will buy them, Mayer and other experts suggest. Through these conversations, they can find out with certainty if their idea will solve real problems; if by tweaking it in some way, they will solve existing problems; or if they need to discard their initial concepts and replace them with new ones.

7 Habits of Innovative Thinkers

Emotional Intelligence Plays a Big Role in Innovative Thinking. Here are Traits that these People have in Common.

Many people believe that creativity and innovative thinking are traits that we are born with—we either have them or not. However, we have found that people who are highly innovative are a work in progress, forever questioning and examining themselves and the world around them. Far from being something we are born with, we can all become more innovative and creative by developing the traits that innovative people share. Here are some of the emotional intelligence-related attributes that innovative people share.


Emotional intelligent people have their egos under control and are open to other people’s ideas. They don’t think their ideas are always the best. As a result of their openness to other ideas, they are able to accumulate a larger source of data from which to draw from. They are also less likely to fall into the trap of following up on ideas and prospects that are only popular and then receiving kudos for them.


Even though they may not think their ideas are always spot on, there is always a belief in their craft and innovate accordingly. They see failures as temporary setbacks. By failing, this will uncover a way that doesn’t work, bringing them closer to a way that will. Great innovators such as Edison, failed countless times before achieving a breakthrough that led to success. A common factor in all innovators is they see failures and setbacks as temporary and do not take them personally.


Emotionally intelligent people are curious about people, concepts, and issues. They’re open to new information always on the lookout for new ideas that can be put into practice. Being avid readers, forever seeking out new ideas, and expanding their knowledge base increases their repertoire of tools for future use. Noticing every opportunity, a random meeting with a stranger, conversation, or an event they are attending is always an occasion to learn something new. Every person they talk to is seen as possessing some knowledge that may be beneficial to them.