Business Success Truth or Dare: Are you trying to succeed by being a fake?

Truth Or Dare? see-sawRecently, I tried to write a series of emails for a project that my business partner and I had been working on.

Thinking I was going to be crafty and write a really good series the easy way, I modeled my first email after the format that a highly successful marketer used. You see, I had just finished going through his entire promotional sequence of emails and videos, and I was very impressed.

My business partner wrote back saying, “George, this email just doesn’t work for me. I see what you’re trying to do, but it’s off-putting.”

While he was concerned I’d be offended (I wasn’t), it was a great opportunity for a good laugh, and it reminded me of a couple of incidents where I wasn’t being myself…

Lessons about connecting with your audience by being yourself.
I had just come back from a training program on how to present and lead live workshops (Train the Trainer program); this was around 2003 or 2004.

I was practicing an introductory workshop that I was developing with my wife as an audience of one.

So I started my introduction, and two minutes into it she goes, “George, what are you doing?!?”

I said, “I’m practicing!”

She said, “No, no, no.

“You’re trying to be somebody else. You’re trying to be the guy who trained you at the Train the Trainer program. That guy cannot lead this program.

“You and only you can lead this program.

“You need to be you.”

So I got a little frustrated. I turned my back on her and regained my composure. Just took a few breaths.

I turned back around and then I started out the introduction being George.

And I didn’t expect this, but my wife broke into tears within the first 5 minutes. She got the impact of me introducing the program as me. It was powerful.

Curiously, at that very Train the Trainer program that I mentioned earlier, I was selected from the audience to come up on stage as an example.

I can’t remember exactly what the trainer asked me to speak about. But I started speaking about whatever topic it was, and he stopped me very shortly after I started. He said, “Hold on a minute.”

And he thumped me on my chest with a flat hand. Thump. Thump.

He said, “George, you’re a fit guy. “I want you to command that presence.

“Look out into this audience. (There were probably 250+ people.) “

And connect with everybody in this audience, be powerful, and project your energy to the back of the room.”

So after he pounded me on my chest, I started over, this time with a lot more energy, enthusiasm, conviction, and power.

Then he said, “Great job. That’s what I want!”

Everyone in the audience started clapping. And then I started walking off the stage.

I didn’t know this had happened, but several people in the audience were in tears.

I had them in tears. I had my wife in tears in a separate incident. So by then, you’d think I would have learned to be myself.

It’s so easy to forget this stuff!

Where in your life, particularly in your business interactions, have you attempted to be someone you’re not? And how did it go? Did it backfire?

Unless you’re a spy, mentally disturbed, or an accomplished actor, it’s a heck of a lot easier to influence and connect with others by being yourself—warts, blemishes, and all—than by attempting to cover up what you believe your shortcomings are by masquerading as someone else.

With rare exceptions, people can sense a fraud. Conversely, they can sense authenticity. Business success comes more naturally when you’re being authentic.

The next time it’s important for you to inspire and engage an audience of one or an audience of 1,000, which version of you do you want to show up? The real you? Or the fictitious you?

The Most Important (But Least Obvious) Reason to Become an Excellent Business Money Manager…

The Most Important (But Least Obvious) Reason to Become an Excellent Business Money Manager…

(NOTE: This is a follow-up to a previous blog post about business cash flow and money management; read it here)

Clearly, we need money for basic business purposes: turn on the lights, buy supplies, fix things, hire help, grow our clientele through marketing, pay taxes, and pay ourselves. These are all practical reasons to manage our finances carefully and intentionally.

Yet isn’t it strange how very few actually manage their money well?

I’ve been studying these types of phenomena for years, marveling at how we unconsciously struggle to eat better, workout more, and become organized with our finances.  And yet, the vast majority of people who want to adopt a healthier diet, who want to move their bodies regularly, who want to manage their business finances more effectively, can’t, don’t or won’t.

It takes someone with incredible fortitude, awareness, and humility to say, “I’m ready to tackle this mountain and I have no idea where to begin.”
This is what happened in my plastic surgery days. When I walked in the door each morning, I knew the rent and overhead for my office exceeded my revenue.

I feared looking at the numbers because I already knew it was ugly.

After amassing more than $350,000 in debt within a couple of years, creditors with nasty attitudes were harassing me, even paging me in the operating room. Naively, I didn’t know who to deal with first or how to “right the ship.” Family and friends sensed what was happening, but they didn’t know how to help. As much as I studied what to do, how to better manage the money that came in, it was clear I wasn’t going to get through this alone. At this point, the woman who became my wife, Denise, bravely stepped in and helped me manage the mess. I’m eternally grateful to her for doing that for me and our future.

Perhaps your story resembles mine. Perhaps, like me, you can muster the courage to face the numbers, but you aren’t confident about where to put your energy. Your biggest obstacles are probably: “where to begin,” “how to begin,” and “what to do”. Chances are you’d give anything for someone to bail you out!

In my previous blog post, I spoke about how the lack of financial clarity causes burnout and a sense of failure, even despite obvious successes. Here’s what else comes with being confused about your money: a debilitating sense of self-doubt.

Self-doubt leaks out in all kinds of ways and can be felt by those with whom we associate. When I pick up on self-doubt in one of my clients, I’ve learned that it means they’ve lost connection with their purpose. They forgot how to express their deepest values.

I’m here to tell you, this isn’t a life sentence. I’m living proof, along with countless colleagues and client entrepreneurs I’ve worked with, that we can take control of our financial health once and for all, without being at the mercy of circumstance and chance.

Taming the financial beast is possible! This victory will not only save our lives, it will refuel our mission and purpose like nothing else.

This leads me back to the beginning of this blog post.

We think we need better money management and cash flow to run the basics of a business. Does this old business saying sound familiar? “The primary purpose of a business is to make a profit.”

Undeniably, a business must turn a profit.

Yet, I believe that “turning on the lights,” “buying supplies,” “paying for help,” and so forth are accurate, yet superficial reasons for turning a profit and the root cause of why we continuously ignore this crucial crusade.

Instead, when we return to the WHY of our work (our reason for being, our vocational mission), guess what happens? — Motivation suddenly appears! We must clean up the financial health of our business for the sake of others and the importance of our passion.

Some believe that when they focus on their finances, it detracts from their mission.

If this is true for you, then THIS is where we should part ways. If you believe that fulfilling your mission means ignoring your money matters, then seriously, go directly to the unsubscribe link on any email I’ve ever sent to you.

But if this conversation stirs you up inside, then congratulations! Something is waking up inside of you.

If you’re interested in continuing this dialogue, then sometime in the next few days, I’m going to be asking for your help, your input, and your opinions. I’ll ask your thoughts on how my business partner, Dan, and I can best help you kick-start your journey to overcome “financial vagueness” and understand fundamental principles and best practices of cash flow and financial management.

Whether you’re avoiding the numbers altogether, unhappy with your current management system, or simply want to keep improving what isn’t quite yet perfect… stay tuned for some unprecedented guidance and simple tools.

Until next time, consider this: Think about what happens when we go into a grocery store without a shopping list and we’re starving. What happens? We wind up buying unnecessary items and spending way too much.

This is what the majority of us do every single day with our business finances: Without knowing where we stand with our money, it’s all too easy to justify buying another gadget, gizmo, doo-dad, or yet another business training program. Let’s stop the insanity together, unravel this intricate, financial knot, and find a practical cure for “financial vagueness syndrome*.”

*Thanks to my good friend and colleague, Joan Sotkin, who coined the phrase “financial vagueness syndrome.”


Are you open to working exclusively with “high-end” clients?

Are you open to working exclusively with “high-end” clients?

You know you’re really good at what you do. You offer tremendous value. You make people’s lives better. Maybe you even help them make more money.

Yet chances are pretty good that for the sake of getting business through the door, you’ve been tempted to take on clients at ridiculously low fees. Or worse yet, you’ve agreed to work with clients that you knew from the start were a train wreck, just waiting for you to help make it happen.

There you have it: The perfect recipe for instantly turning the business of your dreams into the nightmare of your day.

How does this scenario sound instead?

What do you think about working exclusively with clients who appreciate you, who value the expertise you bring to the table, and generously (and gladly) pay you for it?

I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds like the makings of “business nirvana,” where you work exclusively with “high-end” clients. You see, high-end clients are those whose values, business mission, and vision inspire others, including you as their consultant or coach. These clients take action and produce results in the real world. They’re simply fun and energizing to work with.

The curse of low-paying, lousy clients: Is there a cure?

But even with great clients like this, far too many service professionals end up undervaluing their worth. And so they end up under-charging. Or worse: Repeatedly giving away tremendous value for free.

Let’s take a look at this more closely. The “Client Profitability and Resonance” dashboard, shown below, displays a hypothetical roster of clients, based on their level of profitability and “resonance,” that is, whether you have good chemistry with the client (or not).

Starting in the left lower-quadrant, these are clients who aren’t very profitable to work with and they have the worst “chemistry.” In the short- and long-run, you’d best AVOID these clients at all cost.

In the left upper-quadrant, these clients are profitable, but the chemistry with them isn’t great. They are HIDDEN LIABILITIES because these types of clients tend to be less appreciative of your business and more likely to dump you with barely a moment’s notice.

Moving on to the right lower-quadrant, these clients with whom you resonate well, but they aren’t as profitable to your business as they could be. No matter how fulfilling it may be to work with them, you’d do well to UPGRADE these clients to higher levels of profitability.

Finally, in the right upper-quadrant, you have your HIGH-END CLIENTS, the clients who are the most rewarding to work with AND the most profitable.

Which quadrants do your own clients fall into?

If the majority of your existing clients are NOT in the “BEST CLIENTS” category, there’s room for upgrading your business model and best practices. That includes raising your fees and being a lot more selective about your clients.

A High-End Client Tractor Beam?

If you’re ready to give up hourly fees, chronic underpricing, working with borderline clients, and giving away tons of free consulting and coaching time, I can to show you how to work exclusively with high-end clients AND get paid based on the value you provide.

I invite you to be my guest for the “Paid Sessions That Sell: How to Get Paid to Get High-End Clients” webinar. This complementary webinar is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th at 5 pm Pacific (8 pm Eastern).

To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.

If you’ve ever experienced frustration in getting clients to start working with you, or ended up working with clients who don’t pay you what you’re worth, this webinar will open up your mind to an approach that I think is just ground-breaking. And it’s not just because you get paid to prospect. It’s ground-breaking because you learn how to:

  • Eliminate all “tire-kickers” (who simply waste your time)
  • Select only high-end clients to work with
  • Markedly increase your conversion rates (in some cases, 75% – 90%)
  • Set your fees (and get paid) based on value and results produced
  • Get PAID while you prospect!

To your freedom, contribution, and prosperity,


P.S. I used this very approach over seven years ago to create an annualized, six-figure revenue stream in just 73 days, when I started my business from scratch. And it’s not just me: I guided one of my clients to create his annualized, six-figure revenue stream in 70 days!

P.P.S.I’m excited to share this approach with you because it’s so powerful and effective for cultivating a solid connection with your prospective client, winning new, high-end business, and ultimately, providing outstanding value to clients at all stages of your relationship, even from the very beginning. To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 3

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 3

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written about the practical skills that any entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire into their business. Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1 and Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2. I wrote about the first six, which are listed below, and provided recommended resources. I’ve since refined that list and added one more: Turnkey Systemization.



  1. Time and Productivity Management
  2. Storytelling
  3. Marketing
  4. Selling
  5. Business Financial Management, including interpreting financial statements
  6. Verbal Presentation Skills
  7. Written Presentation Skills
  8. Visual Presentations Skills
  9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
  11. Turnkey Systemization

Today, I’m going to describe the remaining three critical skillsets:

  1. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  2. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
  3. Turnkey Systemization

Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
Today, there are more resources than ever before in the history of mankind for obtaining information: the internet, Amazon,, TED talks, and so on.

But all the information in the world has never made any difference. A few years ago, I wrote a blog called “Information Is Interesting, but…

My point of the post is that information and knowledge are NOT power. That’s a myth. Information is, well, information. It’s what you do with the information that makes any difference at all.

Here’s my advice when it comes to reading books, listening to podcasts, viewing videos, and attending workshops, seminars, and trainings: Ask yourself, “How can I practically apply this information?” What do I need by way of resources to be able to apply this information?”

And if you are a provider of information, ask yourself: “How can I make the information, knowledge, and wisdom I have easier for others to learn and implement for themselves?” While I don’t have a specific resource for you here, try adopting this mantra:

“Information is interesting, but application means everything.”

Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills

A lot has been written about “team-building,” “leadership,” and “networking.” But in this section, when I refer to “team-building, collaboration, and network development skills,” I’m referring to a new paradigm, one yet to be created and innovated.

A while back, I wrote an article called “The Collaborative Advantage.” In the article, I described how collaboration among kindergartens was more effective than the attempts of high schoolers to work together.

If you recall the adage that “necessity is the mother of invention,” we now have the presence of compelling necessity for mothering invention. And in the emerging “new global economy,” it’s the responsibility of entrepreneurs such as ourselves to innovate new solutions for solving the multi-faceted problems that we face today.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a practical recommendation for a resource that blends “team-building, collaboration, and network development.” But I’m currently involved in a collaborative project where we’re developing a program designed to catalyze various models of collaboration. If you’re interested in learning more as we progress, I invite you to add yourself to the Collaboration Catalyst Special Interest List

Turnkey Systemization
A lot of people, including “gurus” write and talk about business systems. But it’s a “wastebasket,” nebulous term that has lost its meaning.

I’m curious: What’s your own definition of a business system?

This is my working description of a business system:
A business system is a collection of steps, procedures, and processes. (In case you’re wondering, a procedure is a collection of steps and a process is a collection of procedures). In addition, a system provides a framework for producing reliable, repeatable results. A system must be documented with enough detail and clarity so that someone with a baseline level of experience, skill, knowledge, and expertise can follow the system and produce acceptable results. The system must be readily accessible and documented with sufficient detail that minimizes the effort required to learn the system and for developers to support the training on the system.

Still with me? So here’s the problem. When I ask most entrepreneurs what percentage of their business is systemized, they don’t really know, but a lot of them have told me it’s upwards of 50%. And when I’ve asked these numerous people where the system documentation resides, they sheepishly point to their heads. Enough said.

“Turnkey systemization” means that you’ve documented the critical aspects of your business – the areas that are most critical for the sustainability and profitability of your business.

I’ve read a lot of material about the theory and concepts of systemization. But I’ve rarely seen any programs that truly teach you the “how-to’s” of systemization. Unfortunately again, I don’t have a readily available resource to recommend here.

However, I’m currently involved in a collaborative endeavor where we are currently developing a “Turnkey Systemization Toolkit for Entrepreneurs.” If you’re interested in being one of the first to hear about it, once we’re ready to release it, put your name on the Special Interest list here:


In case you missed it, here are the links to “Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1” and “Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2.” I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on “Practical Entrepreneurship.” If you have any other areas that you think are practical skills that entrepreneurs need to develop, please post a comment and let’s share in our collective wisdom.

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1

Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 1

As the job market has shriveled up, more people have become “unplanned entrepreneurs.” You may be one of them. I think this is a good thing. And also a bad thing.

The good thing is that people aren’t waiting around for our governments to provide solutions to problems that are multifactorial and complex in nature. Personally, I’m counting on the entrepreneurs of the world, not our governments, to see us through and beyond our current circumstances of financial, social, and political chaos.

The bad thing is that most entrepreneurs, planned or not, don’t really understand what they are getting into. They think to themselves, “I’ve got an idea for a product or service that’s going to change the face of the planet; let’s start a business!”

The other night, I was speaking with a couple of students from my alma mater, Brown University. They are part of the Brown University Entrepreneurs Program. With the preceding observations in mind, we discussed ideas on how to better support students who are either interested in learning about entrepreneurship or already have an idea that they want to bring to market.

A number of support programs for entrepreneurs have sprung up across the United States.

I took a look at the course descriptions and curricula for some of the programs offered at Brown. And while the material is interesting, my overriding concern was that a great deal of the material wasn’t immediately practical. This reminded of being in medical school again: One of my professors was either arrogant or ignorant enough to say “We know that half of what we’re teaching you is totally irrelevant information; we just don’t know which half that is.” I mean, come on, does knowing the total cross-sectional area of capillaries in the human body make me a better surgeon? I guarantee it doesn’t. But it was on one of my exams that I passed.

So here’s my gripe: I figure if you’re going to invest time, money, and energy in learning, wouldn’t you want to invest wisely? Wouldn’t you want to invest in gaining practical knowledge that you can apply to produce results?

If you’re a “yes” to these two questions, I’ve put together a short list of fundamental, yet critical skills that any successful entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire for (listed in no particular order):

  1. Time and Productivity Management
  2. Storytelling
  3. Marketing
  4. Selling
  5. Interpreting Financial Statements
  6. Verbal Presentation Skills
  7. Written Presentation Skills
  8. Visual Presentations Skills
  9. Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
  10. Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills

This week, I’ll address the first four skills; next week, I’ll address some more.

Time and Productivity Management
I don’t make any claims to being a master of time and productivity management. But I have have studied this area extensively and have a lot to say about it. I’ve studied the bestseller by David Allen, “Getting Things Done” and “18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman. I’ve even hired various personal organizers to physically descend on my office space. I’ve tried Stephen Covey’s time management software. And I’ve read lots of different books specifically on getting organized. But all the reading in the world hasn’t made a single bit of difference for me. And it won’t for you, either.

The problem most entrepreneurs have is that they don’t have a system, a true repeatable process, for identifying what to focus on what matters most and how to process and organize “stuff” that comes at you every day.

Personally, I’ve developed a workflow that I’ve synthesized from a variety of different resources. Perhaps one day, I’ll create a comprehensive training on this, but in the meantime, here’s are some resources from my friend and colleague, Elizabeth Hagen, that I’ve found extremely useful and practical: (men, just ignore all the pink in her material)

No I’m not talking about “Mary Had a Little Lamb” stories. I’m taking about story frameworks. Storytelling predates the written language by thousands of years. So the human mind has been wired to tune into stories. Effective storytelling has the power to influence people and shape the world. Think Martin Luther King, Jr. (I Have a Dream speech) and John F. Kennedy (Man on the Moon address). Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story

Marketing & Selling
Marketing and selling are two distinct skill sets that use different parts of your brain. Marketing is simply educating others, promoting your platform, your beliefs, your vision. The goal of good marketing is to attract potential buyers who are looking for what you have to offer and are ready to buy now. Now there are a ton of resources on marketing. You just need one to get you organized and pointed in the right direction. If you’re in the service-based business, I recommend The Fast Track Marketing Club for Independent Professionals

Created by my good friend and colleague, Robert Middleton, this program gives you a comprehensive, yet practical approach to marketing. This is the very content that helped me to overcome my own allergy to marketing and selling, years ago.

In contrast, selling is simply helping your potential buyer clarify their needs, wants, and desires and then guiding them through the decision-making process to arrive at solid plan of action. Of all the resources out there, I highly recommend SNAP Selling, written by my friend and colleague, Jill Konrath. SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers

I’ve attempted to give you a primer on some of the key skills I believe are important to your entrepreneurial success. No doubt, there are lots of other skills to develop. Next week, in Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2, I’ll address the following skills:

  • Interpreting Financial Statements
  • Verbal Presentation Skills
  • Written Presentation Skills
  • Visual Presentations Skills

And I’d love to see your comments on other entrepreneurial skills that you think are important.

The Invisible Forces That Bind Us

The Invisible Forces That Bind Us

Have you ever worked hard on a project or marketing campaign, one with great promise, one where it seems that everything is aligned, all the right things are place, and still, things aren’t turning out even close to its anticipated potential? The project grinds to a screeching halt. The marketing campaign fizzles out. The opportunity fades away.

And you wonder why? What happened? What went wrong?

In contrast, there are situations that seem so incomprehensibly dire, yet things turn out when they don’t seem like they should turn out well at all! Take one of a myriad of grim circumstances that befell Louie Zamperini, 1936 Olympic sprinter, World War II veteran, and POW survivor.

Louie Zamperini was a bombardier during World War II. On a search and rescue mission, the B-24 bomber he was aboard lost power in two engines and was forced to ditch into the ocean. Of the 11 crew members aboard, only two other crewmen survived the crash: pilot Russell Phillips and tailgunner Francis McNamara.

Louie and his crewmates drifted at sea with nothing more than a few pints of water and six survival chocolate bars. On the 27th day of this ordeal, a plane passed overhead; overjoyed, the men fired emergency flares. The plane passed them by, but then circled back.

As the plane suddenly opened fire upon them, it became apparent that the plane was a Japanese bomber. Amazingly, none of the men were hit. The plane circled back for another pass. Though bullets pelted the waters around them, yet again, no men were hit. The plane circled back yet again; this time, the men watched helplessly as the bomb doors opened. A mine was released, but failed to detonate once it hit the water.

After 30-45 minutes of strafing and a failed mine drop, the Japanese bomber disappeared. The two rafts that kept them afloat in the open water and thinly separated them from circling sharks were riddled with bullet holes. Miraculously, Louie and his two fellow crewman had survived without a single bullet wound.

The rest of Louie’s incredible story is told in Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. And it’s a book brimming with inspiration and adventure; I highly recommend that you read the book to get the rest of Louie’s story, because there a lot more amazing, incredible experiences you’ll learn about.

In the meantime, what can we take away from this particular story?

Just like electricity, there’s a flow of energy that is normally invisible to us. Yet, we are immersed in it. When things aren’t working out for you in the tangible, physical world, there’s a good chance that this invisible energy is blocked somewhere along the line.

Especially if you’ve done everything you can think of to move an initiative or endeavor to fruition, and progress is still stalled, that’s the time to critically consider the invisible forces at play.

From our limited perspective of ourselves, the world, and life itself, things are not always what they seem. We don’t always see or understand what leads to success. Or what blocks it.

Perhaps the blockage has to do with your beliefs or your fears. Maybe it’s an undelivered communication about a sensitive situation. Maybe it’s dealing with something important that you’ve been avoiding.

In all likelihood, you’re not dealing with circumstances as desperate as those that Louie Zamperini and all the other POW’s faced during WWII. But the same principles of surviving, and ultimately, thriving apply.

The next time you’re facing a difficult situation and can’t seem to break free, remember three practices that kept Louie Zamperini going:

  1. Remain optimistic.
  2. Pursue your passions and give it all you’ve got.
  3. Remain open to allowing the power of the invisible forces that bind us to serve and guide us.