Even If Your Goals Seem Out of Reach, Stay Motivated With These 6 Strategies

17 Traits That Entrepreneurs Possess

Self-doubt has crept in. I know walking away isn’t the answer, but these negative feelings are starting to eat away at my creativity.

Staying motivated is even harder when it comes to challenging projects that seem to drag on and on. That doesn’t mean we should shy away from them, though. Use these tips and strategies to stay focused and on track.

1. Feed your soul. There are a lot of ways to do this. Professionally, I find that the best way to feed my soul is to surround myself with people who are positive and who have my best interests at heart. I need all the support I can muster, and they help lift me up.

If I’m working in a team, I know how much I benefit from relying on them. I keep in touch. I brainstorm with them. I ask for their opinions. More often than not, simply asking a co-worker or someone I respect for their opinion leads me to a solution for a problem that has been vexing me. And it’s so easy to do!

2. Don’t lose sight of the big picture. What’s it all about, anyway? Have you forgotten? Most of us do, to one extent or another, because we’re focusing on the daily grind. Do whatever it takes to keep your goal in sight.

Write it down on a huge sticky note and plaster that note to your computer. Find an image that represents your goal and hang it in your line of vision. Thinking about why I’m working so hard always reenergizes me!

3. Ask for help. When something isn’t working, stop and ask your boss, manager or mentor for their advice. Don’t wait too long to ask! When I find myself feeling stuck, I know someone with more experience might be able to shed some light on my problem. Listen, but also ask a lot of questions.

I still call my mentor when I’m stressed out, because he always helps get me back on track. He can see the big picture when I’ve lost it.

4. Get inspired. When I need a little pick-me-up, I read The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. It never fails to remind me of what I am capable of, and how to achieve it. What books or blogs inspire you?

5. Have a hobby. What gives you joy outside of work? If you have trouble answering this question, then you may have a problem. I don’t have many hobbies, but I do have one: I love to garden.

My backyard is my domain. I don’t depend on other people to do it and it’s always available to me. When I’m feeling low or overwhelmed, I work in the dirt. I find it very relaxing. Then I return to my desk a little more light-hearted.

6. Give back. Stop focusing so intently on yourself and your business for a bit. Find a way to help someone else. Donate your time. If I’m losing my magic, this helps without fail.

Staying motivated isn’t easy, especially when the goal you’re working towards seems as far out of reach as ever. Try not to get too down on yourself. Likewise, don’t get too excited when things are going well! Success takes time. There will be stops and starts.

You’ve heard this before, but I’ll say it again: You had better try to enjoy the journey, because, speaking from experience, reaching the top won’t feel as great as you think it will.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

6 Ways Fantasy Football is Like Running a Business

If you’re into fantasy sports, you already know fantasy sports are huge.

According to the industry’s trade association (who knew fantasy sports needed a trade association?), each of 41 million people in the U.S. and Canada spends an average of over $100 per year and 8 hours a week playing fantasy sports. (Most popular: football.)

And also know that Matthew Berry is ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst, author of the New York Times bestseller Fantasy Life (a fun read on how he built a brand from scratch), and the founder of RotoPass.

But what you may not know is that some of the principles for winning in fantasy sports also apply to winning at business–and even at life.

Matthew describes those principles as “Lesterisms” after his great-uncle, Lester Gold. Here are some Lesterisms to take from fantasy sports and apply to your professional life:

“Don’t make a decision until you have to.”

In fantasy sports it’s easy to panic and get ahead of yourself. Say you’re worried about what you’ll do when your quarterback has a bye week. Or maybe you’re worried about how long an injury will keep a key player off the field. What happens?

You often act before you need to, which by definition means you act on incomplete information–which is never a recipe for success.

The same is true in business. You just heard a competitor is considering entering your market? Fine–think about it, plan for the possibility … but situations can and will change. Wait until you have to act to actually act.

Create as many contingency plans as you want, but wait to be sure the “if” in your if-then statement moves from if to fact.

“Don’t risk what you can’t afford to lose.”

Most entrepreneurs are optimists–otherwise they wouldn’t be entrepreneurs. By nature small-business owners are dreamers. They see positives where few others can.

Still, every step, every decision, and every deal has an upside and a downside. Putting all your eggs in the Michael Vick basket this year? The upside might be huge … but what if Geno Smith has a huge year and Vick rarely plays? Then what?

Take risks, but always be sure you can recover from the worst that can happen. And if you decide you won’t be able to recover, that’s okay–there are always other deals.

“If a guy is trying to trade in one car for another and asks if the car leaks oil, that means his car leaks oil.”

In a negotiation what you say is important–but what the other person says is a lot more important.

The best deals result from listening, not talking. Say what you need to say and then listen. You’ll never realize all you need to do is throw in your backup tight-end to pull off an awesome trade until you spend less time trying to convince and more time just listening.

The only way to make a deal the other person will accept is to actually know what the other person wants … and needs.

“Don’t trade something you need for something you don’t.”

It’s tempting to want the best–of everything. But almost always what you really need to do is improve your “worst.”

Say you have a great warehouse facility … and another one that is slightly better is on the market. That’s like trading Aaron Rodgers for Peyton Manning. Sure, Manning may be slightly better, but who cares when your running back is Ronnie Hillman? (No offense, Ronnie.) You don’t need Peyton–you need Adrian Peterson.

Your goal is to constantly improve your entire operation, not just one part of it. Always add and subtract parts that will make the biggest impact.

“When a mouse is caught in a trap, he’s not thinking about the cheese, he’s thinking of how to get out. But once he’s out he’s thinking about the cheese again.”

Every deal, every transaction, and every relationship has two sides. Your point of view is important, but so is the other person’s.

Take advantage when people are in need and while you may help them in the short term, you’ll cause lasting damage to those relationships. Take too much off the table in a negotiation and while you may “win” in the short-term, you forfeit any chance of a long-term customer relationship.

Offer a below-market salary to a person desperate for a job and that employee will never develop a sense of loyalty and trust for you or your company.

“Anyone can get along with easy people. A great leader can get along withdifficult people.”

Because at some point all of us, however fleetingly, can be difficult … and how you act in those moments is the true test of your leadership skills–and, sometimes, your value as a friend.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

8 Ways America’s Top Leaders Have a Productive Day [Infographic]

A leadership consulting firm, CMOE recently did a survey. They got answers from some of the most influential leaders in America. The below graphic shows the average day according to their survey:

Here are the 8 things you can learn from their day:

1. Exercise

Michael Schneider recently said he likes to exercise every day. It helps him stay productive. Several of the most influential leaders in America said the same thing. They exercise an average of 45 minutes every day. This daily activity will help boost your mood and energy.

2. Limit email and text

The average leader only spends 2 hours and 25 minutes on email and text. This is still a big chunk of the day, but it is limited. Be sure to set periods of time to respond and send emails and text messages. This will help you to stay productive throughout the day and limit distractions.

3. Set goals

Be sure to set aside time to set goals and strategize for the future. Do this every day. Most days you may only need 15-20 minutes to revise and review your plan. Other days, take the time to create a master plan with S.M.A.R.T. goals and really strategize for your company and team.

4. Team work

Work in teams and help each other obtain the goals from your strategy and planning sessions. The average leader only spend 1 hour and 45 minutes on his/her personal tasks and projects. The rest is spent working with teams and people. Teamwork can be powerful, use these 5 steps to create an effective team.

5. Utilize the commute

Some people spend hours on their commute to and from work. The average is around 30 minutes each way, but that’s still an hour of time every single day. Don’t let this time be wasted. Use this time to listen to audiobooks (or read if you ride a train/bus/subway), review your goals or use this time to make your phone calls.

Utilizing this commute time will help to open up your day for other things while your not commuting. It is not creating new time, but it will sure feel like it!

6. Make time for friends and family

Be social and spend time with those you care about away from work. The average leader spends 8 hours per week socializing. Get out and have fun, interact with people and maintain a healthy work life balance. Plus, your networking can always help in business down the road anyhow. Don’t make it about work or business, but most of the time it tends to naturally happen where and when it should.

7. Have productive meetings

Conference calls and meetings take up 2 hours and 26 minutes of the average leader’s day. Make this time productive and avoid the 7 deadly sins of staff meetings. Don’t get confused, these meetings are not required and if you don’t have them, does not mean you aren’t productive. If you are like the average leader and spending this time in meetings, make sure it’s worth it.

8. Develop yourself

Spend at least 30 minutes every night for your own personal development. That can be reading a book, writing in your journal, learning a new skill or polishing on you already have. Do something that will make you better day after day. This small amount of time adds up as does the value that you get from it.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

In global gaming, Amazon gains an advantage, and Google loses a round

In global gaming, Amazon gains an advantage, and Google loses a round

Amazon’s $970 million purchase of game-livestreaming startup Twitch today has paved the way for a new player to emerge in the global gaming landscape. Until this acquisition, Amazon had not fully demonstrated its interest and financial commitment to gaming. Now the online retailer and media company is all in, and Google, its primary competitor in the acquisition of Twitch, is out.

That deal surprised me because I had previously reported that Google had signed a deal to acquire Twitch, based on unnamed sources. Twitch is the latest property that was up for grabs for giant companies that want to dominate the global gaming market. In this war, the rivals are traditional game companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo and new upstarts are Google, Apple, and Amazon. This global competition is the theme of our GamesBeat 2014 event on Sept. 15 and Sept. 16.

Until today, Amazon hadn’t really showed its intention to be more than an accidental game platform owner. The company has said it wants to be a player in games, and now it has put its money down to prove it.

Amazon's entire Fire TV gadget lineup

Was my prior reporting about Google picking up Twitch wrong? Or did Amazon come in and steal the deal away from Google? A lot of people are asking me that. Let me just say that Google lost out on a deal that it should have won. It had the inside track on acquisition talks with Twitch, as Variety reported in May. Why did it hesitate? Variety reported that U.S. regulators were preparing to challenge the deal on antitrust grounds, since Google’s YouTube division dominates the market for Internet video, with more than a billion worldwide viewers and publishers and 6 billion hours of video a month.

Twitch would have been a small addition to that with more than 55 million monthly active viewers and streamers, but it would have added to the concentration of the market, increasing YouTube’s market share for Internet video, even if Twitch was the dominant player in a new form of video: livestreaming of gameplay. I’m unsure how regulators would have ruled on the merger, but it would have been a risk. Amazon, however, didn’t have this problem, and it charged ahead to take the deal.

Gamers, of course, could benefit from competition between Amazon and Google in game video. Twitch could become a cool feature of Amazon’s Fire lineup of set-top box, smartphone, and tablets.

Amazon wants to challenge Google on a variety of fronts, including video for gamers, and the livestream operations of Twitch are built for delivering high-quality video to as many people as possible for watching games and e-sports (competitive video gaming) events. As e-sports took off, Twitch became the way to publicize them around the globe. While e-sports and game spectating had been around for years, especially in other countries, Twitch was really the first entity to executing on what was becoming a worldwide business, said Stewart Alsop, a partner at the venture capital firm Alsop Louie. That group was an early investor in Twitch.

“Twitch is going to introduce Amazon to a new category of operations,” Alsop said in an interview with GamesBeat. “I think Amazon of all of the people we worked with appreciated it the fastest. They are world-class in multiple sectors. Twitch is going to introduce Amazon to the next level up in making a connection live between two points in real time.”

Twitch chief executive Emmett Shear said in a statement that Amazon will support Twitch with resources and pretty much leave it alone.

“We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster,” Shear said. “We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.”

“Amazon is highly invested in games,” said Mike Frazzini, the vice president of Amazon Games, in a statement. “We have a significant business selling video games, most game developers use Amazon Web Services to build their game infrastructure, and we’ve continued to invest in improving the customer experience for gamers and game developers — developing original new games via Amazon Game Studios and releasing capabilities like Amazon Appstream and Amazon Cognito to remove even more heavy lifting from game development.”

“Twitch is another substantial step in this direction for Amazon,” Frazzini added. “Twitch has fundamentally changed how games are consumed and interacted with, and it’s a service that gamers and game broadcasters now find hard to live without. Playing video games started with single player gaming, then came multiplayer, now there’s Twitch. It’s quite remarkable what Twitch has accomplished in such a short time, and we all believe this is just the beginning of what they will become over the long term.”

If you look at the assets Amazon owns, it now has the capacity to make games, sell games, market them, distribute them, and publicize them. In an age when finding games is a huge problem in an app store with a couple of million apps, this capability will be attractive to game makers. Google has many of those capabilities as well, but Twitch is a huge loss when you start adding up the scales in the competition between the companies.

-Courtesy: VentureBeat

What No One Ever Tells You About Being the Boss

Mention you’re about to start a business and you’ll receive plenty of advice. Everyone you know suddenly turns into an expert on financing, marketing and sales strategies, and technology and innovation.

But what you won’t hear is what it’s like to be a CEO, even if you’re the CEO of no one but yourself. Knowing the buck truly does stop with you is a subject non-entrepreneurs know nothing about–and even entrepreneurs rarely talk about.

That’s where Jim Whitehurst, the president and CEO of Red Hat, one of the largest and most successful providers of open-source software, comes in. Before joining Red Hat, Jim was the COO of Delta Airlines, so you might assume he knew exactly what he was getting into–but that’s definitely not the case.

Here are some examples:

You will, in fact, still have a boss–lots of bosses.

Most people assume you don’t have a boss when you’re the CEO. If you’re the sole owner that is, strictly speaking, true … but you still have plenty of “bosses.”

And that means you have to consider the different objectives of all those bosses when deciding what to do.

In my case I have a board, major investors, government officials (since we’re a public company), Wall Street, employees–lots of bosses.

Having greater latitude is one of the fun parts of being a CEO, but never assume you have free rein to do whatever you want.

The input you receive will often conflict.

Some investors may want you to focus more on short-term results than long-term growth. Different customers may want very different things. Even individual board members can have very different opinions.

Your job is to continue to tell the story of your company, continually make judgment calls, and continually balance personalities, needs, and goals. That’s one of the most challenging things about the job; since you have multiple bosses with multiple agendas, you constantly wonder, “Am I doing the right things?”

Sometimes you will have less latitude than when you only had one boss.

When you have investors or a board or employees whose future is at least partly in your hands, even though you’re in charge, you sometimes need to seek permission. And unlike when you had a boss, often there’s not just one person you need to ask.

Everything you do will be under a microscope.

As a CEO or business owner, you’re constantly on display, not just for the job you do but for things like what you wear, whether you use a Styrofoam cup instead of a mug and what that says about your environmental consciousness, what kind of car you drive, etc.

For example, an employee was talking with my wife at a company event and said, “One of the things I really like is that Jim is family oriented. That’s important, because I have kids.” How did she decide that? During a meeting I took a call from my wife–she rarely calls me at work and I wanted to make sure nothing was wrong.

But what if for some reason–say I knew she planned to call at that time to leave me a message that wasn’t urgent and I had hit “Ignore”? Would that employee have thought I was not family oriented … and that Red Hat was not a family-friendly company?

Possibly so. When you’re under the microscope, it’s amazing what can be read into the smallest things. One interaction doesn’t necessarily send a major signal, but when your business is large enough and employees only see you occasionally, that one experience can form their entire opinion.

Being in charge is like a double-edged sword. You get to lead by example, but you can set tons of inadvertent examples. You can’t have a bad day.

You will be the worst boss you ever had.

Becoming your own boss theoretically frees you from being controlled and micromanaged … but your conscience is probably the most exacting taskmaster you’ve ever worked for.

Take today: In theory I could have not scheduled anything. But almost all the individuals who make it to the CEO level or who start their own company, are fairly competitive, driven to do well, committed to performance. They’re their own toughest boss.

While you do have more control, with that responsibility, comes a sense of obligation that pushes most people harder than any boss possibly could.

Your job will definitely be different from what you imagine

I came to Red Hat thinking my job would be quite different than it actually is–not better, not worse, just different. Even though you’re given a title, you still have to earn trust, earn latitude from shareholders and employees … you still have to do all the things you have to do as an employee to gain credibility and respect.

Six years ago I came from doing an operations-intensive job in a low-margin industry. Red Hat is a high-growth company with incredible opportunities that result in incredible ambiguity–my job is a lot more about developing strategies, inspiring people, inspiring creativity, and pivoting from driving numbers and executing to something totally different has been an interesting challenge.

That can happen to you even if you start a new business. Many people tell me what they thought their business would do–and what that meant their role would be–turned out to be very different from what they imagined.

… But it will also be the best job you ever had.

Running a business and being the CEO is incredibly rewarding. You can make a huge impact. You get to work with, and through, awesome people. You get to make a real difference.

It’s definitely a tough job … but it’s also the best job.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Mozilla’s Firefox Marketplace will soon use crowd-curation for apps (exclusive)

Mozilla’s Firefox Marketplace will soon use crowd-curation for apps (exclusive)

But Mozilla has some of the same problems that other app stores do. They need a way to surface the really good apps, and push down the apps that are a little less inspired. DeVaney believes at least part of the answer lies in audience curation of apps.

“It would be giving people a playground, and letting them rate and review apps, letting people vote the best app reviews up to the top,” he told VentureBeat. “It’s creating a space that’s a little less polished than the homepage [of the app store].”I asked DeVaney what this method of app curation might look like to a user. He said it will be a separate space at the app store that has a slightly different look and feel than the home page of the Firefox Marketplace.

DeVaney knows something about curation. Before arriving at Mozilla, he managed a team at Apple charged with creating the promotional language around iTunes, App Store, and iBookstore content.

At the Firefox Marketplace, DeVaney says, there will be a central scroll that will display apps based on the geographic location of the user. The selection of these apps might be informed by what apps other people in the user’s area find useful.

You might also find curated lists of “best apps” by people who have a special interest in a certain class of apps, like productivity apps or games.

The thinking is that the best people to promote apps are not the people who make them, but rather the people who have used them. “We’re really trying to democratize app discovery,” DeVaney said at a retreat for app developers Friday.

Some app stores are looking at using algorithms and automation to identify good apps, and DeVaney says he’s interested in that approach — to a point. “Analysis only takes you so far in predicting the next hit,” he says.

“I could have a staff of 100, but I still wouldn’t know what people in a little village in Nairobi are going to want, or what the people in the village 100 miles away will want,” DeVaney said.

DeVaney said you’ll be seeing the new crowd curation features show up at Mozilla’s app store “very soon.”

-Courtesy: VentureBeat

3 Ways to Leverage Hashtags to Enhance Your Brand

The reason for their popularity? Hashtags allow you to find timely content online in real time. When you search a specific hashtag, you find recent, if not instant, results. These results can be refreshed and updated minute by minute. This is quite different from using keyword terms on a search engine and finding an article that could be several years old.

Also, for companies and their owners, hashtags allow you to track what’s being said about your industry and your business.

While their functionality is pretty straightforward, hashtags can be leveraged in ways beyond doing a simple search.

Want to be sure that you’re using hashtags effectively for your business or startup? Try one, or all, of these three tips:

1. Virtually attend and participate in industry events.

Need to attend an industry event to connect with consumers or experts in your field but don’t have the budget let alone time to attend in person? Virtually participate by using the conference’s hashtag.

You’ll be able to follow along in the comfort of your own home office, with no airfare or conference fees needed.

And you don’t have to wait till the day of the event to get started. Typically, conference and event planners share their specific hashtags well in advance to help attendees connect and network beforehand. By using the conference hashtag, you can keep current on industry trends while connecting with the speakers, too.

Start by searching the conference’s hashtag results on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on the days leading up to the event. This will help you determine who is speaking, when. Then, on the day of the event, tune into the conference livestream, decide which platform you’ll engage the most on and introduce yourself! Be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets and posts so your comments will show up in the search results.

As a best practice, set a goal. Are you participating to expand your network or connect with strategic alliances? Tweet three attendees. Looking to keep current on industry trends? Read conference recaps and blog posts from the media in attendance.

Last, search the hashtag stream that day to see what topics are being discussed, what attendees have to say. You can retweet comments. You can favorite tweets and share your own thoughts, too.

2. Use hashtags to establish further credibility.

Want to boost your online presence, credibility and visibility? First, participate in a few Twitter chats. You’ll be able to share your expertise while also observing how the hashtag can be used for engagement and tracking online impressions.

Twitter chats, typically an hour in length, hone in on a specific topic and often have a Q and A format. The moderator and participants are able to reply to one another — and the questions at hand — by including the chat’s designated hashtag in their tweets. This allows for conversations to be organized. You will be able to search and filter results versus having to scroll through your followers tweets (without any guarantee that the content you are looking for, and trying to respond to, can be quickly found).

Then, after you’ve had some practice, host your own Twitter chat using a custom hashtag that you’ve create. This will give you further credibility, promote awareness of your company’s brand and provide you the opportunity to connect directly with consumers and influencers.

3. Geotarget hashtags to reach the right audience.

Ready to engage with customers in your city? In lieu of advertising or using broad hashtags (that reach consumers worldwide), drill down and use hashtags that geotarget users in a specific cmomunity. Search your city’s hashtag then “like,” comment and participate in relevant conversations to let consumers know you exist. Make sure to hashtag your own content with your location, too.

As an example, if you own Bob’s Pizza shop in Los Angeles, make sure to add #LA or #LosAngeles to your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

As is often the case with social media, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all approach.” If you have a hashtag strategy that hasn’t been mentioned here, post it below! As the saying goes (which is now a hashtag): #SharingIsCaring.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

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