Don’t be stopped by not knowing HOW

An entrepreneur (by definition) is someone who takes risks.

So, she can’t let a little thing like “knowing how” stand in her way.

“How” is dangerous.
“How” is a dream destroyer.
“How” is the difference between talkers and doers.

And too many ideas, projects and movements have fallen off the face of the Earth because somebody was stopped by not knowing how.

LESSON LEARNED: Focus (first) on the WHAT, and the HOW will eventually appear.

Be clear about the results and flexible about the process. Here’s why:

The “WHAT” can be defined right away.
But the “HOW” takes time, patience and persistence.

The “WHAT” can lead to immediate action.
But the “HOW” may take weeks, even months to get started.

The “WHAT” can lay groundwork for the “HOW” to materialize.
But the “HOW” won’t come to fruition without first identifying the “WHAT.”

So, if you have a great new idea and (still) aren’t sure how to execute it, relax.

Because all that matters (at least, right now) is that you just get started.

That you take the first step. That you do something. ANYTHING!

After all, ideas are free; only execution is priceless.

So, consider these practices to help you focus on the “WHAT.” That way the “HOW” will eventually come to fruition.

1. START with lists. The moment you get a new idea, the first thing you need to do is make it into a list. Listing is the simplest, quickest and most efficient way to capture your idea before it flies away to “But You Never Wrote Me Down Land.”

And, the human brain is a self-organizing machine. So, listing subconsciously creates patterns, groups and “piles” of material that seem to come together on their own. This will help you explore the “WHAT” to its fullest extent. I suggest spending a few hours taking a mental dump, creating lists like:

o What My Idea Is
o What My Idea Isn’t
o Where This Idea Came From
o Why I Want to Do This Project
o Who the Customer Is
o What the Value Proposition Is
o How My Idea Is Unique
o Who I Need to Talk To about This Idea
o Goals of This Idea
o Potential Benefits of This Idea
o Resources/Items I Need to Obtain to Move Forward
o Barriers or Challenges
o What This Idea (Could) Become
o What I Want This Idea to Become
o Strengths of This Idea
o Weaknesses of This Idea
o Dangers of This Idea

List until you’ve got nothing left to list. Empty your mind! Update, edit and revisit your lists regularly. Ultimately, this practice will objectify AND clarify your thoughts, thus bringing you closer to discovering the “HOW.”

2. CONTINUE with resources. Odds are, there’s somebody out there who’s done something similar to your idea. Your goal is to connect WITH, and glean lessons FROM that person.

So, here’s your approach:

o FIRST, spend some time googling around. See what else and who else is out there. Keep a record of your findings.

o SECOND, create (yet another) list. Find 5-7 other entrepreneurs whose ideas mirror your own. Think of them as potential resources.

o THIRD, send each of them a short email. Introduce yourself and congratulate them on their success. Then, briefly explain why you’ve reached out. Summarize your new idea in one or two sentences. Ask if they’d be willing to have coffee or chat on the phone for 15 minutes. Respect their boundaries by working with their schedule and/or offering to compensate them for their time.

o FOURTH, shut up and listen. During your conversation, ask penetrating questions like:

o What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
o What’s the stupidest thing I could do with this idea?
o What three things have most contributed to your success?
o What was the turning point in your execution of this idea?
o What mistakes do people in situations like this usually make?

o FIFTH, take copious notes. Find out what they’ve learned and where they’ve screwed up. Keep all of your research, resources and notes together in an easily accessible folder, along with your lists from the first exercise.

o SIXTH, follow up. Send your new friend(s) a follow up email to thank them for their time. Make it your goal to meet with one of these resources once a month. Without being too annoying, occasionally keep them updated on your progress. And continue to run your “WHAT” ideas by them as you discover more of your “HOW.”

3. PERSIST with education. OK! You’ve made some lists and picked some brains. Great progress on the “WHAT.” By now, the “HOW” should be starting to show its ugly little mug.

Which means it’s time to get shanks out.

A.K.A., you need to be willing to suck in the beginning.

Please take a moment and re-read that last sentence.

Yes, It comes with the territory. Whether you’re a storeowner, children’s author or a professional service provider, you’ve got to get the shanks out.

And you do so through education.

Several examples:

That means … daring to do it badly.
Which might mean making an idiot of yourself.

FOR EXAMPLE: Even Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock bombed in front of audiences in the beginning.

That means … spending time paying your dues.
Which might mean fighting your attitude of instant gratification.

FOR EXAMPLE: Accept the fact that you might not get any web traffic for six months.

That means … seeking progress, not perfection.
Which might mean asking for feedback to find out where you suck.

FOR EXAMPLE: Ask customers to offer honest feedback, even if it hurts.

That means … creating work that isn’t very good.
Which might mean throwing a lot of stuff away.

FOR EXAMPLE: Wouldn’t you want to go to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls before playing your first round of the season?

As you can see, persisting with education is the hardest, longest and most enduring part of discovering your “HOW.”

It takes the most patience.
It takes hard AND smart AND long work.
It takes stepping out of your comfort zone.

But that’s exactly why it works.

In fact, that’s why ALL of these practices work.

And I only know this because I’ve done them (and continue to do them) as I trudge forward through my own entrepreneurial hurdles.

Just like you.

So, if you’re an entrepreneur who’s become stuck by not knowing how, remember these three practices:

START with lists.
CONTINUE with resources.
PERSIST with education.

And just concentrate on the WHAT.

No-how will eventually lead to know-how 😉

When you aren’t sure about the “HOW,” what’s your first move?

Share your first move here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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How to become your own consultant

You probably don’t have the money to hire McKinsey.

But you still want to make your company more equitable, more profitable and more successful, right?


Well then, if you’re willing to invest your time and mental energy (but not so much money!) consider this option:

What if you became your OWN consultant?

I know. It sounds impossible.

After all, the whole point of hiring a consultant is to bring someone ELSE into your company, right?

Well, to a certain extent, yes.

However, the word “consultant” stems from the Latin consultare, which means, “To deliberate or consider.”

And you don’t necessarily need some MBA in a suit to do that for you.

Now, sure, I believe in The Outsider Advantage. And I believe there are lots of AMAZING consultants out there.

Heck, I even have a consulting department myself.

But I also believe that successful entrepreneurs learn how to practice objective deliberation on their own.

Because (most of) the answers lie within.

– – –

So, even though it’s not the same thing as brining in some suit from a Fortune 500, your company still can reap the benefits from a little self-consulting.

Especially if you do it regularly.

NOTE: I’m not suggesting you abandon your relationships with mentors, advisors and other members of your professional support system. Nor am I suggesting that self-consulting is a replacement for that support system.

I merely implore you to consider yourself as your company’s most valuable consultative resource.

That being said, let’s explore a list of five practices to help you become your own consultant.

1. Begin with objectivity. The primary value of hiring an outside consultant is BECAUSE she comes from The Outside. This means she has little or no bias. This means she can deliver independent thought. And this means she can recognize patterns immediately.

Obviously, this is a LOT harder to do when it’s just you. Especially since you’re so close to the situation.

So, your challenge is to operate on multiple planes of consciousness. To avoid emotional reactivity. To detach yourself so you can objectively and honestly consider your own criticism.

Kind of like Michael Gerber suggests in The E-Myth: “You need to be the creator, the manager and the technician … simultaneously.”

ASK YOURSELF: Are you willing to step back and examine your company’s challenges calmly and objectively?

2. U-NEED-2-READ. Every single day, spend at least fifteen minutes reading, annotating and studying books that facilitate self-exploration. Books that ask you questions. Books that challenge you. Books that make you sit back and think.

Consider these titles to get your success library started. I’ve personally had breakthrough moments of company knowledge with each one:

o The Aladdin Factor
o Flight Plan
o The Mentor’s Spirit
o Ordering Your Private World
o Questions that Work
o Thinking for a Change

Also, once you’ve marked up your books, the next step is to customize a personal system for transcribing your thoughts. I suggest recopying or summarizing your notes, keeping them in a folder – physically or virtually – and revisiting them regularly. This will keep those self-consultative thoughts fresh in your mind.

ASK YOURSELF: How many books did you read last month?

3. Ask the right questions. Questions are the basis of all knowledge, understanding and creativity. And if you want to be your own consultant, remember that questions are the answer.

So, I suggest doing three things.

First, consider 3-5 vital areas of your business. Everything from marketing to sales to blogging to managing employees.

Next, make a list of pointed, specific and penetrating questions that correspond to each “department.”

Then, ask away!

Now, each book mentioned in the previous example has a WEALTH of great questions. But, if you’re still not sure what to ask, no worries! Here are a few mini lists to get you started:

o How much are you promoting your own personal agenda?
o Can you clearly define what you are a steward of?
o Have you considered other alternatives to this value and explored them fully?

o How are you creating a non-threatening workplace?
o How are you creating a question-friendly atmosphere?
o How do you create an environment in the workplace that encourages the generation and application of your best ideas?

o How are you allowing customers to participate in your brand?
o How are you building a following?
o How are you building a permission asset?

o Are you using informational, value-added follow-up?
o Do you know where your leads are coming from?
o Are you spending more time educating potential customers on the benefits of your service, or telling them why you are better than the competition?

o What “little things” made a big impact on your business?
o What are the best people in your field doing?
o What are the most important things for you to work on that will grow your business the fastest?

4. Hit the page. If you are TRULY serious about becoming your own consultant, the most important practice you can undertake is writing. Especially since you’ve already been reading great books and asking great questions, writing is the logical next step!

“Yeah, but I’m not a writer,” you say.

Yes you are. Everyone is a writer. Writing is the basis of all wealth.

So, here are my three best suggestions for using the practice of writing to become your own consultant:

o Learn to do Morning Pages, the best writing/creativity exercise in the world!

o After asking your questions from example #3, put each your answers in writing. Store your document according to topic in a folder called, “Consulting Me.”

o For any other form of writing you do (as it pertains to consulting yourself), make lists. Lists for everything! And why? Well, consider these 43 reasons.

ASK YOURSELF: What did you write today?

5. Let everything mentor you. OK, we’ve talked about detachment, reading, questioning and writing as four effective practices to help you become your own consultant. For our final example, here’s another self-consultative exercise you can use throughout your day when you’re NOT reading, writing or questioning.

Let’s go back to that list of books for a sec. One in particular, The Mentor’s Spirit, has a FANTASTIC philosophy about self-consulting. Author Marsha Sinetar suggests that you “search out the mentor’s spirit in everyone and everything.” A few other great keepers from her book include:

o “Don’t be afraid of being a little unreasonable with yourself.”
o “Value silence for creative discovery and personal renewal.”
o “We grow by living with our questions, not by having all the answers.”
o “Search each current and particle of existence for truth.”

ASK YOURSELF: How can I let this experience, person or thing mentor me?

– – –

REMEMBER: If you’re willing to invest your time and mental energy, acting as your own consulting CAN pay off BIG time.

It will increase your self-knowledge.
Which will increase your confidence.
Which will increase your company’s equity.
Which will increase your company’s profitability.

And you won’t even need to hire someone from McKinsey!

How do serve as your own consultant?

For a copy of my Top 100 Self-Consultative Questions, send an email to and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

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