Category Archives: Attitude

Things You Should Never Say Out Loud at Work

Depending on where you work, a day at the office could sometimes be compared to a zoo or even a WWE cage fight. (If so, you have my sympathies.) You may have to contend with difficult clients, strange co-worker personalities or even a demanding and unreasonable boss. Everyone has to deal with politics in the workplace. But if you want to keep your job, it’s best to keep these sentiments to yourself.

Funny sales man shouting on a tin can phone

“Lazy people shouldn’t work here.”

Don’t judge others. There’s no reason to offend or bring up other people’s mistakes in front of them. Everyone deserves respect, especially in the workplace. No one wants to be humiliated or made to feel like they don’t belong.

Also, comparing your skills to others is a big no-no. You never know who may overhear rude remark. It could come back to haunt you. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Plus, it makes you look like a bully, even if some of what you’re saying is true.

“I don’t make enough money.”

The office is not the place to voice your opinions on sensitive topics. Avoid talking about money, race, political affiliations, religion or your own personal matters. Your co-worker is not your therapist, and they certainly can’t do anything about your paycheck. In fact, engaging in conversations regarding compensation is grounds for termination at many companies.

It’s best to just avoid sensitive topics at work. There will always be break time and water cooler conversations, but they don’t need to get personal or delve into taboo themes or office rumors. Current events or financial issues may affect the company, but voicing derogatory quips about the President of the United States or the Pope aren’t going to help and can make others uncomfortable.

“Hey, buddy…”

The only time your boss or manager would be your buddy is if you work for your spouse or a really close business partner. Keep things on a professional level and avoid inviting your boss to be your Facebook friend or tweeting them in a non-professional capacity.

Just because the both of you are online doesn’t automatically mean you’re instant best friends. Instead, create a Linkedin profile and share only positive work related news. Do not assume your boss knows everything about you.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have a co-worker issue or if you’re requesting vacation days, but do it through the right channels. Good communication will improve and strengthen a business relationship. Make sure emails and phone conversations are professional too.

“My Hands are tied.”

Phrases like “there’s nothing I can do about that” or “I don’t see your point” will come off as passive, unhelpful and stubborn. If there’s a group task you need to complete, the worst thing you could say is, “Let me know what you come up with.” or “I’m not good at that….” A positive attitude and encouraging statement will trump a negative comment every time. A company will notice when an employee isn’t pulling their weight or considering all angles of a project.

“I did this differently at my last job.”

This kind of comment only shows that you like to brag or that you’re being negative about your current position or coworkers in some way. You don’t want to appear unsupportive, pompous or desperate for attention.

Be confident, but be humble too. You can find similarities in your work without voicing your views about how it should be done. If you have any criticism, make it positive and head up the changes yourself. Then you’re viewed as an asset rather than a critic. Companies like innovative, hard-working and creative people who are ready and willing to tackle any task. You don’t really want to say anything about your previous job because it’s counterproductive and is in the past anyway.

Remember that it’s Work, not War

At the end of the day we’re all in this together. You can stand up for yourself, contribute to the gross national product and still be a personable human being that others want to be around. Every day doesn’t need to be a battle. Make the most of your work day by thinking about the impact your words might have. Come up with solutions for others who don’t think before they speak. Whether you’re making a speech at the next board meeting or getting a performance review, speak as professionally as possible.

Mike Mann is the founder of numerous successful companies and charities. His focus is on generating profits and channeling them to charitable causes. For more of Mike’s tips on creating successful businesses and using them to make the world a better place, download his book, MakeMillions.Com or tune back in to the blog for new stuff weekly.

Stop Using the Marketing Buzzwords, I Beg of You

Conceptual Construction Worker Asking to Stop Doing Something

Clichés are like roadblocks of thought, meant to prevent you from reaching some real thinking. They’re mental shortcuts, often used in propaganda of one sort or another to get the audience to agree and nod their heads without saying anything of substance whatsoever.

And just like politics, the business and marketing world is full of these brain-diverting word objects. You can recognize thoughtless clichés in business most often in the hand-waving phenomenon that is marketing buzzwords.

Perhaps once they were useful for describing some specific idea or concept, but they’ve grown so ubiquitous and misused that the phrases no longer spark any particular thought at all; they’re just meant to sound business-y and smart (when the person uttering them is anything but).

So, without further ado, please make a mental note to steer clear of the following buzzwords and phrases. If you find yourself writing or saying them, ask yourself whether you’re really saying anything substantive at all, or whether you’re using thoughtless shorthand.

Buzzwords to Dump from Your Vocabulary

“To the next level”: An increase in elevation is going to do little to help your business unless you’re taking clients skydiving. This empty and tired metaphor doesn’t tell your audience anything about what they’re actually going to need to do to help improve their business, their career or their golf skills. Say something real about how someone can improve what they’re doing instead of just spinning your linguistic wheels.

“Solution”: I realize that everyone wants to connect the idea of whatever their product, service or idea is with a need that somebody, somewhere needs filled. But please, let’s just talk about the specific need and how you’re going to fill it rather than using a vague and useless synonym for “answer.”

“ROI”: Unless you’re following this term (or the long-hand “return on investment”) with actual numbers with dollar signs in front of them, say something else. It’s not a good metaphor for “getting more out of something than you put in,” and it’s not as useful as actually telling your audience how they’ll benefit from what you’re offering them. Leave it to the number crunchers and find some other way to say what you’re saying.

“Low-hanging fruit”: We get it. Some things are easier to start off with than others. This phrase is so overused and tired as a metaphor that it may as well be wearing a pocket watch and smoking a horn pipe. Let’s put it out to pasture.

“Going forward”: I know you want to talk about what we’re going to do “from now on,” but saying it in this way makes my teeth hurt. It’s like listening to someone crack their knuckles repeatedly; it hurts my insides. People usually say or write this phrase because they want to talk about the future, but they don’t want to say “from now on” or “in the future” because those groups of words don’t let everyone know that they’re a working professional with a very business-y vocabulary. I must say, it definitely does fit the definition of “business-y.”

Buzzwords are the Arch-Enemy of Originality

There’s a reason I write about annoying verbal and literary hang-ups like buzzwords; they’re actually a kind of mental laziness that I absolutely despise. Whenever you hear someone using words and phrases like these, they either couldn’t find anything truly substantive to say and they’re trying to disguise that fact or they’re deliberately trying to prevent you from thinking.

For many marketers, politicians and parents, buzzwords are tools of distraction to prevent your brain from gaining traction and starting to ask further pesky questions. Unfortunately for marketers, it also means not being memorable at all, which is usually the last thing you want out of your communications anyway.

Mike Mann is the founder of numerous successful companies and charities. His focus is on generating profits and channeling them to charitable causes. For more of Mike’s tips on creating successful businesses and using them to make the world a better place, download his book, MakeMillions.Com or tune back in to the blog for new stuff weekly.

Why So Many Millennials are Becoming Entrepreneurs

Generation Y is entering the traditional work force with unconventional expectations. Instead of finding satisfaction with the typical 9-to-5 routine, they are either looking to start their own businesses or molding the corporate world to fit their demands. They’re not happy with the status quo, so they’re making their own way.

This sudden surge in entrepreneurial chutzpah can be attributed to many factors, including the mobility and speed afforded to them by rapidly evolving online technology, growing up in a time of major economic and political uncertainty, and facing staggering unemployment and student debt. Perhaps desperate measures call for daring life choices; this generation can’t afford to play it safe.

Depositphotos_26366095_m

A Desire for Flexibility Coupled With Impatience

The technology that Millennials have grown up with has created a group of people who are accustomed to a lifestyle that is drastically different from their parents and grandparents. Their relationship with technology has instilled a desire for mobility and flexibility, creating the impression that they should be able to access and complete their work anywhere and anytime.

Technology is also behind the demand for instant access and ability to collaborate with others at any time. Those in their 20s and early 30s are used to downloading and streaming music, movies, not to mention shopping, communicating and even dating online. Millennials have also been able to text, call, and interact with friends on phones, Google any information desired and remain generally connected for the entirety of their teenage and young adult lives, so their impatience shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Confidence Laced With Fear

Although this generation is considered one of the most optimistic and confident, they seem to have lost faith in corporations, and the government, likely a result of witnessing their parents losing jobs and pensions due to corporate scandals and the global financial meltdown. They have seen older friends and siblings graduate and struggle to find work. The last several years have seen unemployment rates in the double digits for people between the ages of 18 and 29.

Many Millennials feel that the only possible job security they will find must be through creating their own. This uncertainty has fueled a desire to succeed along with the willingness to make sacrifices and take risks at a level that Generation X just hasn’t been willing (or forced) to do. These aspirations are propelled by the confidence and optimism of this generation.

Millennial Entrepreneurs

This past decade has been indelibly impacted by the Millennial startups that now dominate our social and business landscapes. And it’s arguably been the most entrepreneurial decade in recent memory, with some key people from this generation having achieved immense success. This is especially impressive considering that many of these game-changers are all under the age of 30. This is just a short list of a few of the most victorious high profile Millennials to burst onto the world stage.

Mark Zuckerberg – 28

Let’s start with possibly the most successful entrepreneur of this generation. Zuckerberg was behind the launch the social media site: Facebook in 2004, and is estimated to currently have a net worth of at least $10 billion. He’s changed the face of the Internet, is giving Google a run for their money and completely altered the way businesses interact with their customers.

Dustin Moskovitz – 28

Moskovitz started out as a part of the Facebook team and has a 7.6 percent share in the social media site. He also started Asana, a website that uses web and mobile application that allows people to collaborate in one place. It has an estimated value of $280 million and his overall net worth is around $5 billion.

Drew Houston – 29

This former MIT student came up with the idea for Dropbox, the online file-sharing application that ushered in an era of cloud-based collaboration and pushed Houston’s net worth up to $600 million.

Ben Silbermann – 29

This innovator went from designing products for Google to putting together the groundbreaking social platform, Pinterest, which has filled a critical visual niche in the social media space. While it took a few years to gain popularity, the company is now valued at $1.5 billion and Silbermann’s net worth is at about $100 million.

Peter Cashmore – 26

The creator of Mashable, one of the biggest news sites on the web and valued at more than $200 million. Cashmore has an estimated net worth of $95 million.

All of these young minds are inspirations to the hordes of young business owners, talented programmers and innovative activists seeking to make their way in a new economy. I can’t wait to see who the next big name is—and how they shake things up.

Mike Mann is a serial entrepreneur and author seeking to drive real-world change using profits from his many profitable business ventures. To learn how to make your own business a success, and to hear more about Mike’s charitable vision, read or download his book.

How Your Startup is Like a Relationship

As you begin putting so much time and effort into your startup, the amount of time and energy you’re putting in can start to feel a little overwhelming and confusing, but you may have more insight into the process than you think. Trying to get a new business off the ground has some uncanny similarities to being in a long-term committed relationship. Here are a few dating business tips to make your start-up successful.

Investment of Time and Energy

If a relationship is going to work you have to be fully invested, putting in enough time and energy to help the budding romance thrive. It has to be a top priority, and you have to be dedicated to its success. The same goes with your start-up. If you are going to start a business you need to be willing to devote the resources needed to get the job done, because nobody else will. You need to be committed to this business, and only this business. Don’t let your eye stray to other opportunities. Focus on always making improvements and you’ll both grow together.

Choose Your Co-founder Carefully

If you are looking for a business partner or co-founder, choose wisely. You may initially be searching for the person with the right college degree, the most experience, or the best sales skills you’ve ever seen. You may want to think again.

Obviously you want a co-founder with skills, but if you look at your start-up like a long-term relationship, you’ll realize that you are going to be spending a lot of time with this person. You need to find someone you get along with and has personality traits that match or complement yours. It should be someone who can work through emotional difficulties, sort out financial problems, and be someone who you aren’t going to get sick of seeing day in and day out.

Like your relationship, neglecting the needs of your startup could mean the end.

Like your relationship, neglecting the needs of your startup could mean the end.

Ups and Downs

Every relationship has ups and downs, and so does every startup. One minute you are positive this business is taking flight and going to make you the millions you always dreamed of. The next minute, everything comes crashing down and you wonder if you are going to be able to keep your head above water.

The best advice I can give regarding the ups and downs of a start-up is to know they are coming. A couple should not end their relationship because they had one argument. Likewise, when you hit a bump in the road or a few problems with your startup, hold on. They pass—usually. You can overcome the hardships and the company will be all-the-better for it.

The Small Stuff Matters

In a relationship, the small stuff matters. It matters if your partner saves you the last piece of chocolate cake. It matters if they offer to rub your feet after a long day at work. And, alas, you realize that the whole reason the relationship is working is because of all the small stuff that added up to mutual attentiveness and caring.

A start-up is the exact same way. You begin with a big picture and a huge goal, but you find that the daily grind is what takes over. You have so many small tasks to cover to make sure things get rolling and keep running smoothly. They may seem tedious and often uninteresting, but they are what will keep your business moving, growing and succeeding.

Sometimes You have to Play Games

Without compromising honesty, sometimes you have to play games. If you want someone to be interested in you, you may have to play a little hard to get. You may have to flirt a little then, seem a little uninterested at your next encounter.

Startup founders sometimes have to play similar games to find success and drum up interest. Whether you’re trying to attract new customers or court investors, a little (ethical) game playing may be required. Remember that your presentation is just as important as your product. Your attitude, staging and performance are often big selling points. Flirty sometimes and backing off at others can make a big difference in how you’re perceived.

Cut Your Losses

Not every relationship ends with a marriage proposal. Even if both people are great, sometimes things just don’t work out, and it’s better if they just go their separate ways. The same goes for your new company. Sometimes things just don’t work out, despite all your best efforts. This doesn’t mean things won’t ever work out for you in busines, or that you will never have a successful idea take off. It just means that you need to know when to cut your losses and move on to the next project.

Relationships require a lot of work, and if you’re not committed to seeing it succeed in the long run, you’ll end up facing problem after problem. If you’re ready to jump into a new business, be prepared for all the ups and downs, stay focused, and be ready to compromise when the situation calls for it. And above all, cut your losses before things become dysfunctional.

Mike Mann, social activist and serial entrepreneur, is the author of MakeMillions.Com, a business book focused on making money in small business in order to better serve society. Read or download the book today for insight on his philosophy on wedding entrepreneurship and charitable goals

3 Things You Should Never Say in a Meeting

If you are very familiar with my work and the principles I teach, you know that I believe the primary motivation for making lots of money in high paying jobs and entrepreneurial endeavors should be based on the desire to make the world a better place to live in. Those who make money without any social responsibility attached to their actions often worry and wonder if karma is going to swing around and slap them upside the face, and well they should.

When it comes to karma in business, one of the most important things you can do to position yourself as a leader with a persuasive persona of success, is to choose your words wisely in meetings, times when you can make or break your image with the people that matter.

Building a Persona of Success

Each of us is building our own business persona by the words we choose to speak and who we speak them to. Just as major corporations like Nike, Coke, Apple and Starbucks have powerful brands that evoke specific thoughts and emotions; each of us also has our own brand or persona that we are building with our words and actions.

We seldom realize how powerful our own words are and how much of a positive or negative effect they have on others, not to mention our own careers. What kind of a brand are you building? What do people think of when they think of you? These are questions worth pondering. If you want to avoid poisoning your images in the minds of your colleagues, there are some things you should never say in a meeting or even out loud in the office—ever. When these things are said, they destroy morale, stifle creativity and damage your personal brand.

1- “It can’t be Done”

Truly successful personalities never focus on why something can’t be done; they thrive on the challenge of figuring out how it can be done. This is why lateral thinkers and those that live outside of the box often rise to the top of innovative organizations. The truth is that virtually anything can be done if the necessary energy and creativity is backing up the effort.

A businessman who should have held his tongue.

Don't commit career suicide by saying the wrong thing.

Even if a challenge has exhausted you and your creative juices just aren’t responding to a given task, it is better to simply focus on finding a better way to approach the problem than to publicly admit defeat to the current method being used. “I think there may be a better approach to this problem” is an alternative that puts a positive spin on your opinion and doesn’t associate you with negativity in the minds of others.

2- “It’s Not Fair”

Truly successful people refuse to view or characterize themselves as victims. Even if you are being unjustly targeted, it is simply bad form and uninspiring to others that are looking to you for guidance and inspiration. Never, ever—ever— say “it’s not fair”. Pointing out the obvious brings little to the table and it makes you look defeated.

Life is not fair. Get over it, get around it, work through it. Part of the intoxicating adrenaline rush that truly successful people get while slaying their daily dragons is the thrill of being the underdog that overcomes opposition. You need to have a “Bring it on!” attitude, walking the line between arrogance and competence. Be the leader that loves a challenge and never whines about unfavorable exterior circumstances. That is how you inspire those that follow your lead.

3- “I Don’t Get Paid Enough to Do This”

That phrase is a real downer and a dead giveaway that someone is just in it for the paycheck with no vision for the future. Such people are not passionate about what they do for a living. If that is how you are approaching your work, you need to have an industrial strength paradigm shift. Truly successful people always consider themselves involved in a passionate cause that leads to a higher purpose in life. If indeed you have an underlying desire to make the world a better place with the resources your success brings you, then in fact, you are involved in an important cause, no matter what you do for a living. Do the best you can, with positive expectancy, and the money will follow.

Mike Mann, social activist and serial entrepreneur, is the author of MakeMillions.Com, a business book focused on making money in small business in order to better serve society. Read or download the book today for insight on his philosophy on wedding entrepreneurship and charitable goals.

Why I gave away my company to charity, by Derek Sivers

Recently I ran across a blog that exemplifies the spirit of social entrepreneurship. Derek Sivers is the founder of CD Baby, Host Baby, Much Work and NowNowNow. For all intents and purposes he gave away CD Baby and HostBaby. Below is a repost from his blog that explains his thinking behind the transaction.

Why I gave away my company to charity

Two friends were at a party held at the mansion of a billionaire. One said, “Wow! Look at this place! This guy has everything!” The other said, “Yes, but I have something he’ll never have: enough.

When I decided to sell my company in 2008, I already had enough.

I live simply. I hate waste and excess. I have a good apartment, a good laptop, and a few other basics. But the less I own, the happier I am. The lack of possessions gives me the priceless freedom to live anywhere anytime.

Having too much money can be harmful. It throws off perspective. It makes people do stupid things like buy “extra” cars or houses they don’t use – or upgrade to first class for “only” $10,000 so they can be a little more comfortable for a few hours.

So I didn’t need or even want the money from the sale of the company. I just wanted to make sure I had enough for a simple comfortable life. The rest should go to music education, since that’s what made such a difference in my life.

So I found a great way to do this. I created a charitable trust called the “Independent Musicians Charitable Remainder Unitrust.” When I die, all of its assets will go to music education. But while I’m alive, it pays out 5% of its value per year to me.

(Note: 5% is the minimum allowed by law. It’s still too much. I would have preferred 1%, but oh well. I’m free to use it to start new businesses to help people, or whatever.)

A few months before the sale, I transferred the ownership of CD Baby and HostBaby, all the intellectual property like trademarks and software, into the trust.

It was irreversibly and irrevokably gone. It was no longer mine. It all belonged to the charitable trust.

Then, when Disc Makers bought it, they bought it not from me but from the trust, turning it into $22 million cash to benefit music education.

So instead of me selling the company – (getting taxed on the income, and giving what’s left to charity) – that move of giving away the company to charity then having the charity sell it saved about $5 million in taxes. (That means $5 million more going to music education.)

Also, the move of giving it away into a trust now – instead of holding on to it until I die – means its investments get to grow and compound tax-free for life, which again means more goes to musicians in the end.

I’m only writing this article because many people have asked why I gave it away, so I thought I’d write my long explanation once and for all.

It’s not that I’m altruistic. I’m sacrificing nothing. I’ve just learned what makes me happy. And doing it this way made me the happiest.

I get the deeper happiness of knowing the lucky streak I’ve had in my life will benefit tons of people – not just me.

I get the pride of knowing I did something irreversibly smart before I could change my mind.

I get the safety of knowing I won’t be the target of a frivolous lawsuit, since I have very little net worth.

I get the unburdened freedom of having it out of my hands so I can’t do something stupid.

But most of all, I get the constant priceless reminder that I have enough.

best things in life aren't things

Originally posted Dec. 4, 2009 by Derek Sivers at http://sivers.org/trust.