Author Archives: Chaffee-Thanh Nguyen

And The World Will Be A Better Place

And the world will be a better place

For you and me...
You just wait and see...

So I'm sitting in McDonalds doing some work while my kid is playing in the "Playland" area and having a great time with some other kids and a couple of things hit me.

First, it constantly amazes me how easily kids make friends.

As adults, sometimes people forget the power of just introducing yourself and saying hi. I go to a lot of networking events and I see people standing around doing nothing all the time. In a room full of 50 people, I still see people standing alone. It's as if we forgot what it was like to be a kid... forgot how to talk to people. I know part of this is because we're always told never to talk to strangers... and as we grow up, some people take that lesson to heart and never speak to anyone. I, personally, love meeting new people. There's just not enough of me to go around and experience everything, so I love hearing other people's stories.

If you get nervous meeting new people, then just go to a kid's play area and watch the kids. The local mall, McDonald's, parks... they're full of kids. Pay attention to how they just instantly make friends. There's not preconceived notions, no expectations, no judgements. Just a hey... let's be friends and play together.

Kids Playing

Kids Playing

Take note of kids and go forth and network.

Speaking of which, our next Entrepreneur Success Network Business Afterhours event is coming up soon! On April 25, 2013, we'll be partnering up with the Hoffman Estates Junior Chamber of Commerce again to host a Business Networking Fundraiser. This time we'll be donating all proceeds to The Blackhawk Foundation which raises money for handicapped children. The investment to attend is only $10 and light appetizers and a cash bar are once again available.

Here's the registration link:
http://hejc0425-liann1.eventbrite.com

Be a kid again and come and network with some like minded individuals.

By the way, the second thing that came to my mind was how perfect a song Jackie DeShannon's Put A Little Love in Your Heart (from 1969) is for Entrepreneurs.

At our recent workshop, "The Way of the Entrepreneur", we talked about how Entrepreneurs have a burning desire for something. In my experience, the entrepreneurs that succeed are the ones who have a burning desire for something greater than their current situation.

Have you ever wanted more in your life? More for your family and friends? Well then find out what that "Little Love" or burning desire is in you and start pursuing it. And work to make the world a better place for you and me...

Put A Little Love In Your Heart

When you follow your heart and passion and start doing what you love, you'll be amazed at how wonderful life can be. Yes, there will be trials and tribulations and when you have a burning passion, vision, and commitment to succeed, wow!!!!

So just put a little love in your heart and just wait and see...

Celebrate Life!
Chaffee-Thanh Nguyen

P.S. Here's the link to the networking event again.
http://hejc0425-liann1.eventbrite.com

P.P.S. Here's the link to Jackie's beautiful song...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_Jj39HrKQk

 

Value Va-Voom!

According to Wikipedia, "A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced."

So what's your value proposition? That's one of the questions we ask when new members join the group.   Most people in business know that they need a value proposition only they're not sure what it is or how to define it.   In fact, some of the responses of a handful of recent members were:

  • I'm still working on it
  • Sharing my knowledge and experience
  • ?
  • I provide expertise and resources
  • Bringing new ideas
  • open
  • I'll tell you later..
valueproposition

Was anyone sold on those value propositions?   Or how about that last one?  Can you imagine telling a customer that?

Customer:  Tell me, what's so valuable about your product or service?
You:             I'll tell you later...

Just imagine the look on their face when you tell them that!

confusedbaby

So, no offense to the people that wrote those responses for their answers.  The point is that most people don't think about their value proposition and that's a huge mistake.  In fact, a good value proposition can be the difference between a prospect and a sale.

Your value proposition needs to "speak" to your clients and draw them into you and your business.   It needs to say to them, "I'm the business you want to work with and here's why..."

Let's face it, sharing knowledge, experiences, resources, new ideas... these are all fairly common things which any good business will do.  What makes YOU stand out above the crowd though?  What makes YOU the business to work with?

Here are some tips when putting together your value proposition:
1) Specialize...

Instead of serving 1 billion customers like McDonalds, carve out a niche to work with.
Think about a doctor. A generalist may need to know a lot of information about pretty much everything!   A specialist only has to know as much as they can about one subject.   Which one usually makes more money?   The guy who has to know everything or the guy who knows one thing really well?

If you are going through a divorce, do you want to hire an attorney who specializes in divorce and that's all they do or the attorney who is a general practitioner that does family law, divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, wills, real estate closings, and more?   What makes you special and who are your target customers?

2) Be interesting!

I once met an accountant who introduced himself as, "Hi. My name is Joe and I'm a CPA. Call me if you want your taxes done."  That's it. Are you interested?  Would you call him?  First of all, how many CPA's are out there in the world? (According to Wikipedia, there are about 360,000 of them).  Second, why would I call you instead of the other 359,999 CPA's out there?

Hey, don't get me wrong, Joe was a nice guy. He just wasn't very interesting.   Of course, maybe you don't want your CPA to be interesting.   What if instead he said something like, "Hi. My name is Joe and being a CPA is fun!!! Why? Because I specialize in helping people save money from the IRS so that they can use it to have fun themselves! And helping people have fun is fun! Call me today and start having some fun!"   O.k. I threw that together and you get my point.   Boring and straight forward or fun and exciting.   You decide.

3) Fill a void.

Know your customer and what they're looking for. Find out what they want and need and give it to them.   Here's a question for you, would you ever pay $10,000 for a bottle of water?   Of course not silly...

Unless you were stranded in the middle of the desert without water for 2 days and I had the only bottle of water.   Then that $10,000 would be well worth it for you.   If you can show the value of your product or service so that people want and need your product or service to fill some kind of void in their life, then you've got a life long customer.

4) Create a new marketplace.

Steve Jobs is notorious for saying, "people don't know what they want until you show it to them."   That's why he dispised customer focus groups. He just wanted to "make great products."  And that's exactly what he did.

In fact, he created an entire culture of products.   The iPod was not the first music player out there.  The iPhone was not the first smartphone.  The iPad was not the first tablet.   The genius of Apple was that they created a marketplace of users who loved their products and sold tons of apps, add-ons, and downloads making Apple one of the most successful companies in history.

Does your product or service do this?

There's a lot more that goes into a good value add proposition and hopefully this will give you a good start.   Take some time and think it through and decide how you can really provide value to people.  That's what's going to sell your product or service.

Celebrate Life!
Chaffee-Thanh Nguyen

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Power Of FOCUS!

I was talking to a client today and they were telling me about everything they had to do. They told me that it wasn't a lot of big jobs and that it was just a bunch of little jobs. They also told me that there was so many little jobs and they had put it off so long that now they felt overwhelmed every time they thought about doing something about it. Well it turns out that after talking to this client, that well... they were all over the place. It seems like they couldn't focus on anything unless it absolutely had to get done. Does this sound familiar to you?

But wait... there's more...

Digging deeper, it turns out that this client has a main business that they needed to grow... and if that wasn't enough, they were also involved in two more businesses. So now they have 3 businesses they were growing at once along with a mountain of small "jobs" that had to get done. No wonder they were feeling overwhelmed!

Overwhelmed

In fact, I felt overwhelmed just listening to them! Whew!

So what now? What do they do and how do they regain control of their business?

I think most people would think the answer would be for them to get organized first. The challenge with them getting organized first is that they are so disorganized that it would take them forever to get organized. In addition, it's so overwhelming that they'll never get started organizing to get organized. They're somewhat in a state of analysis paralysis! What do I do first?!? What's next? There's this and that and this and that and ahhhhh!!!!!!!

Here's the thing... when people feel overwhelmed, then the natural thing for them to do is avoidance. It's natural to avoid the thing that's making them feel overwhelmed and put it off as long as possible. So getting organized will actually just be another step in the avoidance process where they'll work on getting organized and never get anything done. I know that sounds somewhat counter-intuitive and I've seen it over and over again. People feel unorganized and cluttered, so they spend hours upon hours and days upon days getting organized... and if they're lucky enough to actually get organized, they'll soon realize that they didn't get anything done and they still have the weight of getting everything done on their shoulders. So then they look for something else to do other than organization instead of actually just tackling what they just organized. Or they'll take a break... because they spent so much time and energy organizing... and still nothing will get done.

It's a vicious cycle.

So what's a person to do instead?

The answer is FOCUS. Focus on getting stuff done. Chip away at the mountain of "stuff" that needs to get done and stay focused on getting things done. If you've got so much to do that you're overwhelmed, then just focus on doing what you already know that needs to be done first. Get that mountain of "stuff" down to a hill... and then organize.

Here's the thing, most people probably already know what needs to be done without first having to organize everything and prioritize it. So work on what you know needs to get done one by one. Here's the thing, by getting one thing done, it removes the pressure of that one thing and makes you feel "lighter". Do another thing you know needs to get done and you feel even lighter and more refreshed. If you can mentally choose something that takes less time than something else, then yes, tackle that first because you're goal or focus at this point is to get things done and off your plate as fast as possible. Once you have completed several tasks, you'll be surprised at how you feel... somewhat renewed, relieved, energized... even if you know you have a lot more to do.

Let me give you an example... a 1000 piece puzzle.

When you first dump out the pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle, it seems overwhelming. How are you going to put together an entire 1000 piece puzzle? It's going to take you forever! Now, if you took the time to organize all 1000 pieces into separate piles based upon color, size, shape, or whatever it is you decide, that might take you hours or more (maybe even days) depending upon how you organize them... and you still haven't gotten anything done. Now if you had to get stuff done, this may help you down the road only it didn't help you get anything done in the short term and you've still got 1000 pieces to put together!

Now what if you did what many people do with puzzles first... focus on getting the frame completed by finding all the edge pieces and putting them together first. Find the four corner pieces and then start finding the straight edges and putting them together. After a bit, you'll have parts of the frame put together and you'll feel a sense of accomplishment. Stay focused and after a bit more, you connect two sides and you give a little whoop of excitement. Then you connect pieces of all 4 sides together and you're feeling the excitement. Then you finish the frame and ahhhh... a nice feeling of success!!! Never mind that you've still got about 700 - 800 pieces to go... you've got the frame together! Wahoo! Progress!

Now that you have the frame done and you're riding an energy high, start organizing all the pieces of one color together... or of one part of the puzzle picture. For example, if your puzzle is a picture of the ocean with a lighthouse on one side and a ship on the other, then look for all the pieces that have the lighthouse on them. Don't organize the whole puzzle yet - there is still too much... focus instead on just getting the lighthouse completed. Little by little, you'll start putting the pieces together and before you know it... shazaam!! The lighthouse is completed! Relief... energy... excitement... onto the next thing you know needs to be completed... the boat.

Stay focused and soon enough the boat is complete! Now you look and half the pieces are completed! Now the remaining pieces are manageable and you can organize them however you please. You've got energy from completing three or four pieces of the puzzle and now you feel like you can conquer the rest!

This is the power of focus. Don't get me wrong, organization is a powerful process as well and it still needs to be done. And sometimes organization itself is a stall tactic... and can still overwhelm you. FOCUS is power though. When you focus on getting things done... one step at a time... the results are amazing.

In fact, my client told me that the other day they had tons and tons of messages to respond to and it was all overwhelming. They had considered organizing all the messages into different subjects and then prioritizing them by importance and they just couldn't do it. It was just too much. Then they said that instead of focusing on responding to all the messages and organizing them into different piles and priorities, they just focused on responding to the messages that they had that day and didn't worry about anything else. And when they got through that, they felt a sense of relief. Then they started focusing and tackling the messages from the prior days... one day at a time. Soon enough, they had caught up on all their messages. It was amazing!

Again, this is the power of focus. And if this helps anyone out there, remember that FOCUS stands for Follow One Course Until Successful. If you're overwhelmed by the mountain of tasks you have to complete, focus on the things you know you need to do and just do them one at a time. You'll start to feel empowered as you complete your tasks and the mountain won't seem insurmountable. Once you feel the conqueror spirit, then organize and prioritize the rest and then once again, focus on completion. Remember, how do you eat a cow? One hamburger at a time!

Fired! From Your Own Company!

Steve Jobs was let go from Apple years ago before he came back and made it the powerhouse it is today. And now Groupon's Andrew Mason was just fired from the company he started 4 1/2 years ago. Read all about it here... CEO Gone From Groupon

What about you? Should you be fired from your company?

Most entrepreneurs and small business owners are their own bosses and get away with well... basically anything and everything.

If you're the boss, how often have you assesed your own performance? Think about it, would you want to hire you as your own employee or fire yourself? Do you have the systems and procedures in place to track your performance or will you "get to it later"?

While it seems natural for a successful corporate employee to succeed in their own business, that's usually not the case. It's one thing to have someone to report to, deadlines, project plans, and a boss to keep an eye on you. It's another to have to do all that yourself AND work your business.

If you want to increase your chances of succeeding as an Entrepreneur and making it on your own, make sure you have a few things in place.

First, remember the saying, "Fail to plan, plan to fail." If you don't make plans on how to succeed, that's tantamount to planning on failure.

Best selling author Steven Covey wrote the 7 Steps to Highly Successful People. In this world reknown book, one of the seven habits is to "Begin With The End In Mind".

This means that you should know what your goals are. You should know what you want to accomplish and when. Have that vision of success. This will help you put your plan together properly if you know where you want to go and when you want to get there.

The next "Put First Things First". Steven talks about prioritizing and organizing. You have to know what you're doing and when.

A good concept to remember is DMO or Daily Method of Operation. In other words, what are the things that you need to do every single day? For example, when you're putting your schedule together, are you scheduling in follow-up calls to potential clients. When are you doing them? If you plan on making calls 3 days a week from 4 - 5 pm, then that's got to be in your calendar. So you know that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday you're making follow-up calls. What else do you have to do on a daily basis? Do you have that written down in your calendar?

When you have a plan with a calendar and you know your daily method of operation or DMO, you chances of success just increased significantly.

Here's the catch though... it's not enough to just plan it and know it. You actually have to do it! Massive Action is the greatest factor in success. Correction... Massive CONSISTENT Action is the greatest factor.

Once you have your plan of action and a DMO outline, then you can track to see how you're doing.

If you're not doing so hot, then maybe it's time to fire yourself - or at least take drastic measures to ensure improvement.

Remember, if you want to succeed in business, you have to treat your business like a business - not like a hobby.

So give yourself an assessment and ask yourself, "would I hire myself this week or fire myself?"

The answer may surprise you.

Sandy Hits The East Coast – Are You Prepared?

Sandy is now being called a Super Storm. This is when a multitude of factors collide in order to cause amazing results.

With Sandy, a combination of a Hurricane, a cold front with Blizzard like conditions, and a full moon (bringing in high tide and huge waves) are all combining to create a massive superstorm extending over 500 miles outward and potentially causing massive damage!

Each in and of itself is a devastating force and combined, it's creates something even greater than the sum of of it's parts. This is saying 1 + 1 + 1 does not equal 3. Instead, 1 + 1 + 1 equals something like 10!

Our thoughts and prayers are with those out on the east coast as they prepare for this storm to hit. It also makes us think about how we can prepare ourselves in our businesses.

Have you ever experienced the perfect storm of events in your business? What can you do to prepare for it or even cause it for greater results?

Most people never think about it and like some people in the path of the hurricane, they choose to ignore the warnings. This can cause unwanted and sometimes dire results. By preparing your business for the perfect storm of events, you're better able to weather any challenges.

One way to do this is to sit down and do a SWOT analysis. SWOT simply stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Take a moment to sit down and write down some items under each topic. Then take a look at your weaknesses and threats. What would you do if one or more threats affected your business and what if some of those threats attached your weaknesses? How would you handle it. Even worse, what if those threats all happened at the same time causing the perfect storm of events to hurt your business?

Put together a plan of action to address that situation and you'll sleep easier at night.

Now let's look at your strengths and opportunities. Can you combine multiple strengths and execute upon multiple opportunities at the same time? Would doing so enable to advance your business further by leaps and bounds?

If you haven't done so yet, make sure you sit down and really think about where you want to go with your business and more importantly, how you can capitalize on your strengths and protect yourself from your weaknesses.

Like those out on the east coast, you have a choice to be proactive and safe or ignore the warnings and suffer the consequences.

And if you're reading this while you're riding out the storm, stay safe and know that the world is watching out for you.

Celebrate Life!
Chaffee-Thanh Nguyen