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What it really takes to find success in - well - pretty much anything. (Part-1)

Posted on 26 March 2017

What it really takes to find success in - well - pretty much anything.

As the creator, founder and CEO of U-Lace No-Tie Sneaker Laces I will quickly admit that while the company has found a level of success, I do not - just yet - consider myself to be a very successful entrepreneur; not just yet.

 But I do know a little bit about what success looks like. I have experienced it. And will experience it again - that you can bet on. :D

The one thing I have figured out in my nearly 50 years on the planet about success - any success - is this; you have to go find it.

Success will not show up unannounced at your doorstep looking for you. 

Success is the undisputed World Champion of Hide & Seek. Success is elusive. Success is slippery like an octopus - you think you have in firmly in your grasp and like that it wiggles free and like a rocket jets away.  Success is a master of disguise, and like a species evolved over millions of years learning to camouflage itself in order to blend in with its surroundings; even when it’s right under your nose, success is very hard to find.

The effort to find success will lead you on the wildest of goose chases and take you many places you thought you would never go. But be sure to take many notes along the way. Be like an explorer; charting your course as you go. Chart every hill, chart every valley.  You will be happy to be able to refer back to those notes as you continue on your quest.

When I look back on the successes in my life which, by the way are outpaced by a 10 to 1 margin by my failures, one basic formula for finding success reveals itself.

Today, I want to share that formula with all of you in hopes that it will help you find your success(es) in life, business, work, or whatever you seek to find success in. 

Since I am a trained engineer I will first write down a formula and then explain each variable in greater detail.

Finding of Success = Desire for Success + Vision of Success + Plan for Success + Execution of the Plan [if Execution = Good, Continue and Expand on the Plan, if Execution = Not So Good,  Re-Plan & Re-Execute] + Never Ending the Quest for Improvement or Greater Success.

As you see the formula for success is pretty simple and it also assumes / makes allowances for missteps / failures and do-overs.  

As I stated in my: "when should I quit" blog entry.  As long as the previous move isn't fatal and you have another move you can make, make it.  It could be the move that unlocks the door to unimagined success.

 

STEP 1:

The first step in Finding success is a Desire for Success. Don’t stop reading. I am sure you may be thinking – OK this is BS - every body wants to be successful. Truth is however, that many people are fine with being mediocre and happy with just getting by and while that might not be the definition of failure it certainly is not a definition of success. Just getting by may not be the definition of losing – but it certainly isn’t the definition of winning either.

Personal Story #1:

When I was in 8th grade I was a pretty good basketball player. I was actually really good. At the time, my older cousin Gil was a Division I collegiate basketball player playing at the University of Arkansas.

So it was my dream to also go off to high-school and become a high-school hoops star (my Desire for Success).  I wanted to achieve said success so I too could get recruited and go to college on a basketball scholarship like my cousin (my Vision for Success).

I decided then that I needed to work on deficient parts of my game and further develop the better parts of my game (my Planning for Success) so I spent most of my free time in 8th grade playing so much basketball (my Execution of my plan for Success) – primarily on hard paved courts prepping for High School for try-outs – that my pediatrician banned me from playing for nearly 2 months because of the wear and tear on my now achy knees.

In the fall of my freshman year in high school. I made it through 3 or 4 rounds of tryouts for my high school team but did not make the final cut. I was good, better than many, but in the end there were a bunch of guys who tried out that were better than me.   Uh-oh; the plan I was executing did not yield the success I was looking for – I needed to go back to the drawing board.

With my dreams of making the basketball team dashed I had to re-think everything. My school didn’t have JV basketball. Either you played varsity or you didn’t play. I could just keep working out and hope to make the team next year. Or I could go back to the beginning and rethink things.
In the end I decided to re-think things; something I have had to do with every business I have created.  It is par for the course of life, so get used to doing it.  
I loved basketball but what I really wanted was to be a legitimate athlete and sports 'star' like my cousin Gil and my dad before him, so the sport really didn’t matter.
My dad had been an All-High football player who won a scholarship to play college football and my cousin Gil was an All High, All Western NY and scholar ship NCAA basketball player. I wanted to be like them. I wanted the patches and accolades and respect that came with being a winner and one of the best at the sport you played.
So with that my desire for success was modified to; just becoming a sports star – the sport did not matter. I just wanted to be one of the best, if not the best.
So in the spring I went out for track. Why? Because the coach was looking for hurdlers and if I could hurdle, I’d get on the track immediately and have a chance to pursue my dreams of greatness.
So remember; first things first - we all need a desire for success before we can vigorously pursue it.

 

STEP 2:

The 2nd step in Finding Success is having a clear Vision of what that Success looks like.  Many people have dream boards in their houses covered with images cut from magazines of what they want their lives to look like in the near future. These boards are often covered with images of mansions, expensive cars, and scenes from opulent weddings in exotic places.  So this concept of a Vision of what your success will look like is not such an odd concept.  

What I would propose however is a much clearer vision of success that is also grounded in reality and what is truly possible if you give it your all.  

Instead of me imagining myself winning a gold in the olympics I imagined winning 1st place at the All-High track meet.  Instead of visioning myself taking down Renaldo Nehemiah  - the best high hurdler of his & my time in high school - in a photo finish, I envisioned myself beating Shariff Ali by 2 hurdles.  I did that by the way.  It was awesome.  

The same is the case in business and life.  You set goals. Envision success, pursue that success and when you achieve it, you move the goalpost and re-imagine what that success will look like.  

Personal Story #2:
When I was in business school at Duke University my summer internship in Marketing was with Nestle Chocolate - the folks who made the Crunch Bar and Chunky and Raisinets.
My assignment for the 14 weeks summer was to try to figure out why Nestle did  not maintain its marketshare during keys seasonal selling periods outside of Halloween; periods such as Easter and Christmas.
I thought the project was a good one but for me Success at Nestle was nothing less than leaving with a full time job offer for the next spring after graduation.  I needed to knock Nestles socks off.  
I envisioned myself at the end of the internship sitting down with my boss having him tell me how great a job I had done and that Nestle wanted me to join their marketing team.
That's what I envisioned and what I set out to make sure happened.  I quickly dispatched with the initial project and then set my sites on the knocking-off-of-socks part of my plan.  After uncovering what I determined was a huge gap in Nestle's product strategy, I silently built a team at the company who assisted me in creating the product that would fill that gap and thus solve the marketshare-loss problem.  
With the help of my team I created that new product; including packaging and sales materials and then presented to my boss Jeff.  Jeff quickly gave it the thumbs up and then presented me and my product to the president of Nestle Chocolate who also promptly gave the idea the thumbs up.  
From that day my role changed and spent much of my time flying around the country introducing Nestle Seasons to the sales force.  At the end of my internship, my vision came to fruition with an offer to join Nestle after graduation from Duke with my MBA.  Nestle Seasons (since transitioned to another name) by the way, went on to generate $44.6 million in sales it's first year on the market.  
So Remember, you must first have a vision of success in order to actually pursue it.
For my company U-Lace, my vision is of a company led by a true leader, innovator and visionary that its people will want to follow, emulate and impress daily.  I clearly have lots of work to do and have ample room for personal, and management growth.  My vision is that I will not be the smartest guy in the room, because I have surrounded myself with people much smarter than myself.  
My vision is that U-Lace will be in continual improvement and innovation mode and will deliver products that consumers demand and rave about.  I envision a company where the customer is always put first and where customer service is a coveted job because working with a helping customers is the core of what we do.  
If you have noticed - I haven't mentioned much about money and sales just yet because I believe that if I achieve the things listed above the sales revenues and profits will follow and follow in abundance.  I just want to build a company that is filled with great people, who want to be the best and who want the best for our company, our customers and our consumers.  
To foster that type of company and workforce, my vision is for U-Lace to be a work hard, play hard work environment where we take work seriously, without taking ourselves too seriously.
Part-2 of this Blog Post will be published this weekend.
- Tim CEO U-Lace No-Tie Sneaker Laces.

 

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