Category Archives: Lessons Learned

My Last Lecture

I used to think that some people were born to be entrepreneurs and some people weren’t. I also thought that I was one of the ones who wasn’t born with that talent, knowledge or even desire to be my own boss. I liked the safety provided by working for someone else – the bigger that someone else was, the better (I worked for P&G for a while even).

At the beginning of the class, I read something that talked about how every human being is born with some sense of creativity and that an entrepreneur is really just a creative person who has the courage to make something out of their creativity. I had never thought about it like that before and it was like a light went off in my brain.

Creative doesn’t just mean that you can paint, draw, sculpt, sew, make cards or scrapbooks, or design beautiful buildings, landscapes or clothing. Creative also means that you can solve problems given limited resources. Many call that resourceful, and that’s true too, but a creative person isn’t just resourceful. They use those resources to accomplish a goal/task, yes, but they also make it better.

I can do that.

I know how to leave things better than I found them. I know how to add value to my work and help others to see value in theirs. And I like doing it.

I’m so glad I had that realization early on this semester. That realization patterned the entire rest of my time. It shed light on every article and every book I read, every video I watched, and I even started seeing things at work differently. I understood more. I saw people doing things I was reading about and I finally understood why.

If I could give one parting piece of advice to those taking this class after me, it would be to stop worrying about the “what” and focus instead on the “who”. It won’t matter what you sell or what service you offer if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Focus on the lives you can change and good you can do for others with your business. There is something you can offer someone else, even if it’s just that you’re not the boss you can’t stand.

Believe in yourself. Believe in others. Look for the good in the world and you’ll find it. Look for the bad and you’ll find it. “Choose you this day” what you’re going to look for and move forward “with an eye single” to that purpose. Everything else will fall into place. It always does when you’re doing it for all the right reasons.

Binny Lane: The End

The Binny Lane project has officially come to an end, though I might use the name again some day.

I enjoyed putting the final presentation together – more than I thought I would. As I was putting the charts together, I realized how much I could have done. It was eye-opening to me to see how well I did, in graphics and charts.

All in all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have done this project. I learned some stuff about myself and about running a business.

Becoming Self-Aware: Step 6

Step 6 in becoming self-aware: Exercise faith.

The next question in Alma 5:

“Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you?”

Faith is defined by as:

  1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing
  2. Belief that is not based on proof

Once we’ve chosen to believe in something (step 4) and we’ve decided who we want to become (step 5) it’s time to take action on it. We must have confidence in ourselves and exercise that confidence to the point where we are moving forward – progressing towards that person we want to become.

We don’t have to have proof that we can become the person we’ve pictured, we only need to believe it and be willing to work towards it.

Are you willing to work? If you’re willing to work, that person you saw in step 5 is only a little ways away.

Step 1: Learn where you came from and why you think the way you do.

Step 2: Be grateful for the things, tangible or not, that you already have.

Step 3: Be grateful for your challenges – they make you who you are.

Step 4: Choose to believe.

Step 5: Decide what kind of person you’re going to become. Envision it.

Step 6: Exercise faith.

Rules & Truth

“Rules and laws depend on truth and trust.”

Without truth and trust, rules are just a way of thinking and trying to make others do what you want them to do. For a rule or a law to work, we have to trust the people that make them and trust that they’re for our own good. If we can’t trust the rule makers, we can’t trust the rules.

What about in business? Who are the rule makers? The owners, of course.

The real justification for business, according to Charles Hardy in “What’s a Business For?” is the “something more or better” that the business can do with its profits. Businesses don’t, or rather shouldn’t, exist merely to make a profit. They should exist to do something with that profit that makes the world a better place.

I worked at Kinko’s many years ago. During those pre-FedEx days, we were given a profit share check every month. Some months were great (October and November when people are getting their Christmas cards made) and other months weren’t so good (nobody needs copies in July – school is out). Every year I was there, that check paid for my Christmas presents for my family.

It didn’t force us to work harder, but it was certainly some incentive. Paying dividends, in essence, to the employees, not just the shareholders, made a huge difference in a lot of lives.

Now, I’m blessed enough to work for a boss that values the job done more than the hours my rear is in my chair. I’ve been given the tools to work remotely, and as long as I keep it clean and professional, I’m allowed to use those materials for personal use as well. They pay for my phone and I answer it. I answer it whether it’s my boss or my grandmother. They pay for my laptop and when I have to go to a funeral in another state, I take it with me and work on the plane. They send flowers to the funeral and support the time I need to grieve. Because I give them my best, they take care of me. Although you could state it the other way around too and it would be equally true. Because they take care of me, I give them my best.

Put Your Shoulder to the Flywheel

I really appreciated the analogy of the flywheel in the articles I read this week (pulled from Good to Great).

I think this image gives a good idea of what I pictured in my mind as I read the analogy:


Turn that wheel on it’s side and start pushing. It will take a while to get it to go around once, then twice. Eventually, however, it will be going fast enough that you won’t have to push so hard and will actually have to run to keep up.

The same can be said for your business. Little steps will gain momentum over time. We can’t expect greatness to be an immediate result of a good decision.

Greatness comes from perseverance, sweat, blood and tears. It comes from pushing when it doesn’t feel like you’re moving. It comes from within ourselves and only manifests itself when we’ve truly given it our all.

Put your shoulder to the flywheel and keep pushing. You’ll get there.

Becoming Self-Aware: Step 2

The second question asked in Alma 5 is:

“…have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them?”

He’s still speaking of your “fathers” here. The second step to becoming self-aware is to think of all of the things those who came before you were blessed with. You’ve already remembered all of the hard things and the difficult times they endured for you. Now think of the good things.

When we think of the bad things, all of those times when we were frustrated because of a response we received to something we did soften a little.

When we think of the good things in those who came before us, we realize that many of the good things in us came from them.

Where remembering the bad things brings us a sense of understanding, remembering the good things brings us a sense of gratitude.

Step 1: Learn where you come from and why you think the way you do (understand where you come from).

Step 2: Be grateful for the things, tangible or not, that you already have.

Binny Lane – Week 5

Sales are still good, though slow. There was a spike in the beginning but now that everyone has tasted the goods, they’re slow.

One of the lessons learned: keep advertising. People act on what they see but once it’s out of sight, it truly is out of mind. To keep selling we really have to keep advertising.

In our case, that means Facebook. Because we’re local and because our customers are really only our family and friends in the area, we have to keep it in front of them in order to continue selling.

Becoming Self-Aware – Step 1

Step 1 to Self-Awareness: Learn where you come from and why you think the way you do.

How do we measure our own Emotional Intelligence? If we are lacking in the self-awareness category, can we even begin? I believe we can and I believe that the Book of Mormon gives us a good guideline for becoming self-aware and helping us with our relationships with others.

The questions I’ll be bringing up in this series of posts will be coming from Alma chapter 5.

The first question he asks is this:

“…have you sufficiently retained in remembrance‍ the captivity  of your fathers?”

The first step is to apply the question to ourselves. For many of us, our fathers weren’t in captivity, so how can this possibly apply?

Let me suggest this…

We were raised by our parents/guardians. We think and act the way we do, largely because of how we were raised. Many people even try to justify making bad decisions on their upbringing and lack of opportunity. It stands to reason then, that our parents’/guardians’ actions stemmed from the same place – how they were raised. Our parents likely taught us what they knew, the best way they knew how.

Now let me ask the question again.

Have you, sufficiently, remembered or learned where your parents came from and why they taught you the things they did the way they did?

Do you know where your thought processes come from?

Until you do, you can’t change them (if that’s what you’re looking to do).

Step 1 to Self-Awareness: Learn where you come from and why you think the way you do.

Be A Leader

We all have stuff we need to work on in order to become better people. Below is a list of things we can work on to help us become better leaders, and consequently, better people.

Start with Fixed Principles

  • Know your purpose
  • Be consistent
  • “Do what I do” not “Do what I say”
  • Have team spirit
  • Don’t be afraid of close friendships
  • Be virtuous; have a moral and ethical code

Strive to Understand Others

  • Listen to others
  • Listen to your own conscience
  • Love
  • Don’t be condescending
  • Be patient
  • Be candid and forthright without being overbearing
  • Be kind, yet firm
  • Seek to understand them deeply – know the cause, not just the action

Be Selfless

  • Lead, don’t control
  • Don’t take away the freedom of others
  • Keep perspective

Hone Responsibility

  • Involve others
  • Give helpful corrective feedback
  • Believe in what they’re capable of now, what they have the potential to do, and let them know it
  • Be lovingly and reasonably demanding
  • Match the task to the ability while stretching them a little to become better
  • Create opportunities for lasting changes

Seek Accountability

  • Be accountable
  • Hold others accountable

Manage Your Time Well

  • Afford rest, relaxation, rejuvination, and recreation without avoiding responsibility
  • Time management = self management

In summary:

Good and Bad Leaders

The Customer Is Always Right

Even when they’re not.

StewLeonardI enjoyed learning more about the importance of customer service and especially appreciated the inclusion of the employees as customers. Good, satisfied employees create loyal satisfied customers. Loyal customers come back and bring their friends.

Employers should strive to hire people with the right attitude, knowing that they can teach them the skills they will need.

Employees should believe in the company as much as the owner does, but the owner (and management) have to show that they believe in it, not just that they’re there for the paycheck.

These were all good reminders to me and something for me to remember as I begin my own business.