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Greenlight yourself!

5 Nov

“Greenlight yourself.”

–Charlie Todd

Do you remember when in order to start a business it required massive amounts of capital and labor intensive resources? Do you recall a time when writing a novel required securing  a publisher and producing massive amounts of hardcopy books? How about the time when recording an album or creating a film required an entire studio, mixers, professional producers, etc.?

Well, if you do remember these archaic times, guess what, they’re dead.

The internet and technology has dissolved and eroded all barriers of of entry for whatever creative channel we want to pursue, allowing each of us the ability to pursue our ultimate passions and creative dreams. In essence, creativity has been fully democratized. Do you care to start a business or tech company? There are hundreds of seed accelerators thanks to Y-combinator. Want to make a movie? Get on youtube or vimeo. Care to write a book or blog? Hop on wordpress, tumblr or even CreateSpace to self-publish. Want to build a website or mobile app on the fly? Outsource to some far away place through Odesk.com. How about record a rock album? There’s an iPad app for that ūüôā (see Gorillaz new album, The Fall).¬†Or maybe you wanted to invent a new kitchen or household product? There’s a bit of Quirky in all of us.

What’s holding us back then? Go ahead, greenlight yourself!

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How to dominate in all phases of life like Chef Ferran Adri√†

9 Feb

I had the pleasure of recently viewing the new documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress¬†by German filmmaker¬†Gereon Wetzel. If you have the chance, I’d recommend seeing this as soon as possible strictly as a motivational tool. The avant garde, raw, film gives a rare glimpse in to what makes El Bulli and the man who drives it all, function at such a remarkably high level. El Bulli was considered (until it closed last year) at the forefront of the molecular gastronomic landscape, merging food with science, even closing for 6 months of the year to work in “El Taller” or “The Lab” to continually innovate and push the envelope for the next year.

Ferran Adria

Ferran Adria Directing His Staff

Ferran Adrià is the Steve Jobs of the cooking world. You just look at his gaze and it screams: Intensity, immense attention to detail, unparalleled drive, and motivation to push the limits of human innovation through food. Frankly, the man has created dishes that no one even thought were possible and chefs around the world strive to emulate his creations.

What makes Ferran Adria one of the premier innovators and motivators on the planet, and what can we learn from people such as him?:

1. He pushes those around him to function at a higher level than they ever thought possible. He extracts the most out of his employees, sous chefs, and executives and forces them to innovate, pushing the limits of cooking that no one thought possible. If you have a comfort zone and work with Ferran, ¬†it’s out the window. Chefs from all over the world would kill to work with him despite his intensity. Why? Because by pushing the chefs even harder, they grow and learn in ways that would otherwise be impossible.

2. Attention to detail: On any given dish or experimentation process, everything down to the last grain of salt is handled with extreme precision. Chef Adria even uses his own industrial designer to create the perfect serving vessel for each dish. His cleanliness in his workspace, restaurant, and kitchen are pristine, creating an environment conducive to invention. All dishes are catalogued, photographed, and documented as if a chemistry experiment to make sure than any new creative ideas are logged and recorded in full.

3. Continual drive to do things better than ever before. Even if ¬†Adria and his staff created the world’s greatest dish last year, the next year it’s off the menu. Why? Because Chef Adria feels an innate desire to continue to push and do better than he has previously done before. At one point in the film, Adria lambastes his Executive chefs in the test kitchen for “bringing him something that isn’t good,” and something that remotely resembled something they had done in years prior.

4.¬†It does not matter what happened last year, yesterday, or five minutes ago, for Chef Adria, it’s about what you create in the given moment. A Chef is only as good as his last dish.¬†For entrepreneurs, innovators, and athletes this means that we need to find new ways of looking at things, pivoting or changing if necessary, and pushing forward to do things better than ever in order to succeed. Past failures and successes should mean nothing to you or anyone else.

5. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Be crazy. Be fearless. Despite the doubters and contrarians, Adria continually pushes ahead with his grand vision, brushing aside harsh criticisms and detractors. He fears nothing and no one.

Ferran Adria "Disappearing" Ravioli At El Bulli

We can all take away lessons from the great innovators and leaders of our time. Even if we never reach the heights of our heros, we can still strive to achieve and innovate in our own little universe.

Always going for glory,

Craig E. Steinfeld

@CESteinfeld 

I am not a resolution

5 Jan

I am not a resolution.

Rather,

I am motivated and driven, not by some ephemeral feeling or desire:

To lose weight

To be rich

To increase performance

To outsmart the competition

To succeed at all costs

To have that mansion on the hilltop

But rather,

To consistently and constantly

IMPROVE and

Do everything in my power

To live the life I choose and

To make the most of every second, of every day.

 

Always going for glory!

C.E. Steinfeld

@CEsteinfeld

Discovering your core values

17 Oct

Apple CoreI am lucky. My father, Jay Steinfeld (@BlindsComCEO), happens to be a shrewd business man (and better father). He started a multi-million dollar company out of our garage and I saw, first-hand, Blinds.com and its categorical success as I grew up.  I have been exposed to tidbits of life and business wisdom growing up around the most inspiring entrepreneur I know, my dad.

What I have learned is the importance of having core values on both a personal and business level. This means it is vital to determine what inspires you, drives you, and motivates you to get up each morning to leave your imprint on the world. Not only should your core values be written down and communicated (to yourself and your employees), but reiterated on a daily, even hourly basis. Despite profit incentive,  one should never should one stray too far from these driving core values as they will continue to guide even when the odds are stacked against you, or in the face of great adversity.

To quote another one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Richard Branson (full article here), on the founding of Virgin over 40 years ago:

“We had accidentally stumbled on the core elements of a culture dedicated to delivering great customer service! It turned out that people who work in a friendly environment that is tolerant of mistakes, and who are empowered to make decisions about how they do their jobs, arrive at the best possible solutions for serving customers.”

These early values helped shaped the direction of one of the most diversified and successful companies the world has ever seen, and they are still ever-present in the Virgin brand today.

My core values:

  • Striving for constant improvement
  • Continuing to evolve and innovate
  • Commitment to living a healthy lifestyle
  • Desire to take risk and explore
  • Keeping an open mind in all facets of life
My values are dynamic, meaning they will undoubtedly change over time, but the real point here is:
Having core values to guide your own personal mission or business are tantamount to reaching success, however you define it.
What are YOUR core values?
Always going for glory!

Entrepreneurs push beyond the limits of mere mortals

24 May

Sir Richard Branson has announced that he will be swimming across the Irish Sea in order to fund cancer research. This from a man who runs a multi-billion dollar, multi-national company -Virgin. Branson has crossed oceans in hot air balloons, sail boats, and whatever other craft you could dream up. ¬†He’s building a private space program called Virgin Galactic ¬†and plans to go to the depths of the ocean in a specially designed submarine via¬†Virgin Oceanic.

Mere mortals might ask: How does this Branson guy run a multibillion dollar empire, jet from private isles across the world, break world speed and aviation records, and have time to develop new projects simultaneously?

Another question is simply why?

It’s simple:

  • Drive
  • Desire to push the limits of humanity
  • Zero fear of failure
I believe these attributes are qualities that are the driving force behind all successful entrepreneurs and organizations. ¬†Most people are content with the status quo and as a result, never truly reach for their own version of the stars (in Branson’s case, both literally and figuratively). On the other hand entrepreneurs not only reach for the stars, but they ask themselves: What’s beyond these stars and how the heck are we going to get there?
I’ll leave you with a quote from Sir Richard himself from his book, Business Stripped Bare:
“Enterpreneurship is business‚Äôs beating heart. Entrepeurneurship isn‚Äôt about capital; it‚Äôs about ideas.”
Take an idea. Run with it. Rinse. Repeat
Always going for glory,

Sales: The lifeblood of business

18 May

When I used to to think of sales, I could not help but recall the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, in particular the openining scene in which Alec Baldwin delivers his famous “coffee is for closers!” spiel . Who amongst us has not had that awful experience with the used car salesman-type, pushing his product or service down our throats? It can leave a bad taste in your mouth about sales, and rightfully so.

And who could forget the famous ABC’s from Glengarry Glen Ross?:

  • Always
  • Be
  • Closing
But is sales as simple as a numbers game, in which 300 cold calls might yield a handful of leads, leading to a handful of prospects, which might generate, maybe, a few sales? Not according to Mike Peloquin.
I had the privilege of hearing a talk by sales expert, Mike Peloquin, who has grown 6 start ups from nothing, to millions in revenue.  He had a very interesting perspective on the sales process which he unabashedly views as a brutal, cutthroat process that requires a highly competitive team.  That being said, Peloquin believes that you can create real, tangible sales and revenue through a systematic, detailed process, and his record speaks for itself as head of sales of numerous companies.
Some key points that are applicable to all sales approaches, businesses, and products:
  • You do not conduct business with companies, but rather with human beings,¬†making key leads at organizations essential to the sales process (Point: Find people, not companies to conduct business with and focus on nurturing relationships with them)
  • Sales is not the process of throwing paint at the wall and seeing what sticks, but instead, a systematic process that requires careful managing of contacts (through CRM systems), follow-up, and a well-disciplined team
  • People are NOT customers, until they pay you (it’s critical to distinguish between leads, prospects, and actual sales)
  • Leads are critical to sales and they should be managed, massaged, and organized by a dedicated sales team (Peloquin even believes that sales teams should be incentivized by the leads they generate, not just sales)
Sales is cutthroat as a profession and most people might not have the stomach for it.  It can be gut-wrenching and difficult to break through and crush it as a salesman. As an entrepreneur, I know I have emotional attachment to my products and therefore can have a difficult time handling the rejection.
That being said, with the right team, process, and approach to sales it’s not always about the ABCs, but instead focusing on people, not companies, through a systematic process, to generate sales and revenue as an organization.¬†
Always going for glory,

Evolving in Age 2.0

22 Feb

We are entrepreneurs, people, and citizens operating in Age 2.0.  Things like technology, communication tools, and business landscapes are changing more rapidly than ever. Ostensibly, Age 2.0 helped facilitate the revolutions taking place across the Middle East as we speak (i.e. Egypt).

One of the great geniuses and inventors of our time, Ray Kurzweil, describes this rapid growth as a mathematical, predictable series of events that increases exponentially, not linearly. If you are not familiar  with Kurzweil and his body of work, I would highly suggest viewing his TED talk on rapid technological growth and even more interesting, his thoughts on the future of humanity as we know it, known as The Singularity.

While we may not equal the genius that Kurzweil is, the lesson we can take home is that:

In today’s age, we must be able to change and adapt as rapidly as our environment does.

A few examples of things forever changed.

  • Digitization of music and books
  • Mobile technology as the dominant platform for¬†everything!
  • Twitter, Facebook, etc. operating as our main forms of societal communication
  • We are fast becoming augmented cyborgs!

These are things to keep in mind as we go out and change the world with our amazing entrepreneurial/business ideas.  We should be aware that Age 2.0 is the foundation from which to make sound business decisions.  How will you integrate mobile technology or operating systems? How will you market with social media? What do you foresee as huge trends in the interim and near future that could prove to be detrimental to your business?

These questions and thousands of others are more important today than ever before. Do not be afraid, embrace the present (and the future) and go out and change the world, just be ready to change adapt and shift your way of thinking on a whim. As for me, I’m working on it. My business concept and prototype (in development) has shifted shape entirely based on this very notion. ¬†I will keep you posted on how things continue to evolve.

How have you evolved as a person, entrepreneur, or business owner in Age 2.0?

Always going for glory!

HE

@CESteinfeld