How healthy is your Worry Factor?

I remember a conversation I had with my friend Melissa Clark Reynolds many years ago.  She probably won’t even remember it.  We were standing in the changing room of the local swimming pool centre at the time.  Melissa had just sold her first business to Southern Cross and I was still mid way into the building of my advertising agency, a long time before I became a business mentor.  I turned off my hair dryer long enough to have a quick chat.  For some reason the subject of ‘worry’ came up.  Perhaps I was particularly worried about something at that time and asked her advice.  Melissa’s words then have stuck with me ever since.  She told me that she believed worry was an important trait of successful business people.  She said its good to be a bit of a worrier.  That the things that keep you awake at night, going over and over in your head, are the same things that cause you to take action the next day.  If you are smart business person and you are worrying about something bad that could happen in the future, you can take action right away to stop it happening.  It was a good way to look at worry for me.  As a natural born worrier, it gave me permission to be myself and use it to my advantage.

There are some positives about the Worry Factor. Worrying is a business persons safety belt.  We wear it to guard against potential dangers that might never happen.  Then as the drivers of our business, we learn to take evasive action to minimise the chances of crashing.  Without a bit of healthy worry, we might sleep through the impending disaster just around the corner.

Of course the emphasis here has to go on the word ‘healthy’.

It is good to worry a bit, to foresee potential problems and take action to avoid them.  It is not good to worry excessively.  I learnt this the hard way in the early days of my first business (a friend used to refer to my ‘purple people eaters’ – the imaginary disasters I could see looming from the tiniest mistake).

It is not good to worry about things you have already done, or failed to do.  You can’t turn back the clock.   Worrying about something you said that you now regret won’t take it back.  But a commitment to apologise or make an offer to make up for it… that’s something you can do tomorrow.

So here’s my worrying tips for wealthy entrepreneurs:

1.  If you see a potential problem coming up in the future, it is good to worry about it, just enough to inspire action

2. But don’t lose sleep over it.  Keep a notebook by your bed, write down the action you are going to take tomorrow then go to sleep

3. Never worry about something that has already happened.  If there is something you can do to make it better, write it down in your notebook for tomorrow’s actions.  If there is nothing you can do about it, let it go. Then go to sleep.

4. If you are not worried about anything in your business, you might be missing something.  Try to be a visionary.  Think ahead and have a little, healthy dose of worry to make you take action.

5. Sleep is also the business owners’ best friend.  It can be a bit illusive at times if you worry too much.  The way to measure how healthy your Worry Factor is simply by your sleep.  If you can’t sleep from worrying, you are worrying too much.

So how healthy is your Worry Factor?

And my favourite businesses are…

I see many different businesses through my line of work, mostly are owner operators building businesses they hope one day to exit, either by selling it or creating leverage to enable the business to continue without them being there.  Moving past the owner operator stage can be tricky, especially if you have built a business based on your own particular experience and skill set.  My work with liber8yourbusiness is all about helping owner operators re-engineer their business so that it will ultimately thrive without the owner and feed them long term wealth at the same time.

Naturally I think about business a lot.  I love business and I watch the truly elite business models out there with interest, always looking for the aspects of these businesses that make them so brilliant.  As I turned the light off last night I found myself asking myself which would be my favourite 5 businesses in the world and why.  Great questions for me to think about as I went to sleep.

The first three came fast and easily, I rattled them off in my head before my eyes closed… here they are:

1.  Xero.  I love this business model.  Take one of the most frustrating aspects of small business, make it easier, make it approachable, accessible and take it to market with a perfectly formed brand.  With its cloud based, super-user friendly accounting package, Xero exemplifies Marketing 101… start with a frustration then offer the best solution, get the pricing right and find the most leveraged (and cost effective) channel possible.  By partnering with as many accounting firms around the world as it can, Xero lets the accountants sell the product for them.  Add to all of this, Xero has in Rod Drury an experienced, proven, dynamic and credible leader.  A CEO who has built a number of businesses in the technology space before, all with successful exits created for him and his business partners. A CEO who understands all the complexities of business, is passionate about the offering and the company, has the right connections to make things happen and is also a down to earth good guy.  Fab!

2.  Apple.  Well, what can I say.  From famously humble beginnings with two geeks in a garage, to arguably the most successful business on the planet.   Unlike Facebook, which continues to defy all reason with its purported valuation in the billions, Apple is a classic business in every sense.  Until recently it had a passionate and inspirational leader in its founder Steve Jobs, it is a beautiful brand that has turned a piece of fruit into a symbol for paradigm breaking brilliance.  When you think Apple, what do you ask yourself?  If you are like me you are asking ‘what’s next?’.  What new world of communication will they catapault us into next?  It all started with a funny looking little computer that looked a bit like a small screen tv on a tardis.  Apple was about computers.   Then it was about music as the iPod and iTunes captured our imaginations.  Then phones as the iPhone transformed that gadget in our hand into the most handy thing you can carry with you next to a swiss army knife.  Surely even Bear Grills has swapped his compass for  a map app and is grateful for his torch app when the moon isn’t out.  Now there’s the iPad with the book and game industry also part of the Apple world.   All of this held together by the most consistent pioneering brand.  Just look at the original Apple logo… with Newton discovering new horizons.  The brand essence has never changed.  But the value of the company certainly has!

3.  The Body Shop.  My love for business really started when I read Anita Roddick’s book, Body and Soul.  I was captivated by the story of a woman who started a shop selling beauty products based on ethical production methods, just because she couldn’t find these products  in the market.  She was a child of the 60’s, fiercely anti animal testing, use of chemicals and abuse of the environment… all of which feature highly in the mainstream beauty industry.  Once again you hear the story from humble beginnings, as Anita got turned away from bank after bank and opened a shop with a small handful of hand made products struggling to fill the shelves, to a global company which made her one of the richest women in the world.  Along the way, Anita helped save native tribes in places such as the Amazon, tribes on the verge of distinction, by allowing them to build cottage industries producing the ingredients for her products.  She made a massive difference on this planet.  Sadly she passed away some years ago, but boy, what a legacy she left.  I love this business because it ticks all those classic good business 101 boxes – products designed to solve a frustration in the market, a passionate, determined leader who wouldn’t take no for an answer, brilliant marketing using planet friendly messages to drive a loyal following, a strong and clearly defined culture which enabled seamless global expansion, plus… and this is a big plus for me, a higher purpose that meant this business has changed the face of business, saved lives and allowed people everywhere to take a stand against animal testing.   The concept of ethical business really came about, I believe as a result of Anita’s legacy.

Phew!  So those are my top 3.  The no brainers for me.  I didn’t have to think about these.  I have since come up with another two to complete my top 5 favourite business list.  But I will save those for another blog.  In the meantime, what’s your favourite business and why?

Flying high today…

Don’t  you love it when you love what you do?   I’m on day 5 of a coffee detox so I had to get my high today from other sources today.  It came in the form of a 4 hour business mentoring session with a group of people with a brilliant start up idea.  Five individuals are involved and they bought me in for a single meeting to help them clarify the vision, end goals and exit strategy.  Prior to the session I got them all to view two of the online seminars in my programme and to define their own personal view of the business and what it would do for them in terms of financial reward and exit.  Then today each person presented to the group.  The presentations and the discussion that followed was enlightening for all.  Each had a slightly different take on the idea itself and each had reasons for being involved that they hadn’t articulated before.  The great news was that all views were aligned and a picture of this business and its potential sale points emerged.

We then went on to do some financial modelling… looking at pricing and market opportunities and potential revenue streams.  Things got very exciting.  One of the party had been having doubts about his involvement because he couldn’t see where it was going.  He became totally engaged and highly animated as the potential became clearer.

My philosophy on business remains the same as my take on life generally… when you know where you are going, you have a much better chance of getting there.   I left a group of excited, motivated people today.   Their high is my high.  I love my work!

Is the world in economic crisis? You bet…

When I’m not busy waxing lyrical about the importance of planning your business from the end goal backwards, I’m also busy trying to work out how to protect the wealth I created from the sale of my own business in this time of great economic melt down (yes I do see it as a melt down and and am fully engaged in educating myself to try to make good decisions for my future wealth at this time).

I have a few advisors I listen to and a few blogs that I’ve subscribed to which seem to make sense to me.  One of those I follow with most interest at the moment is Capitalist Exploits at

Below are some facts about the current economic situation of USA by Chris from Capitalist Exploits.  Sobering but true:

“It always pays to look at the facts before considering anything else.Lets then take a look.

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000

Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000

New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000

National debt: $14,271,000,000,000

Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:

Annual family income: $21,700

Money the family spent: $38,200

New debt on the credit card: $16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710

Total budget cuts: $385

Now do you understand why this situation is out of control?”


Game, set and match. Lessons in business from a game of tennis.

My lovely client Bridgette (from Village PR in Tauranga) told me the funniest story about a tennis game she played in Fiji recently.  The parallels to and lessons about business were clearly apparent to us both so I just have to share it…

Bridgette it turns out is a bit of a gun tennis player, or at least she was in her youth, having played for Otago Under 12s.  She hasn’t played much in recent years, with a thriving PR company and two small children to look after, but the love of the game still lurks within.  So when on holiday on Mana Island, Fiji, a few weeks ago, she couldn’t resist asking the island tennis pro for a friendly match.  Mike was happy to take her on, another tourist to add to his unbeaten record as Mana Island Champion.  He suggested 3pm that afternoon.  Bridgette had her doubts about the time of day.   It was towards the end of the 10 day break and she’d been particularly enjoying the three times a day eat all you can buffet spreads that came as part of the all inclusive package deal.  It was a hot day and 3pm was a time more suited for a post-buffet siesta, not exercise.  But being a good sport and keen not to miss out, she accepted and met Mike as agreed at 3 o’clock on the court.  Her husband and a few friends came along for some amusement.  They were not disappointed.  There was some entertainment to be had in watching Bridgette get annihilated 6 – 2 by the somewhat younger, extremely fit, very ‘ripped’ (Bridgette’s words), tall and athletic Fijian warrior.  They watched Bridgette shake hands over the net and found themselves surprised when she announced that she’d agreed to play Mike again that evening at 8.30pm.

Over dinner Bridgette told them how determined she was to beat him.  Her supporters were skeptical to say the least.  “There’s no way you will beat him”, said one.  Undetered by the lack of faith, Bridgette asked her friends and husband for some tips.  “Come on coach me,” she said, “you were watching him, how can I beat him?”  The team became animated with suggestions.  “Go for his back hand”, “He’s weak front of court, do more drop shots”, “he’s slicing, so you have to slice” and my favourite tip, “He’s got long arms so serve into his body”.

Bridgette took good mental notes and come 8.30pm she was back on the court with a clear strategy in her head.  She used her tai chi to focus her breathing, fixed a strong mental picture of herself succeeding with ideas she’d been given.  The game started and before she knew it Bridgette was up 4 -2.  The crowd (of 3) went wild.  Bridgette took her time and served hard and close to his body.  He struggled to return her serves but had fitness on his side, the score went to 4-3.  Bridgette played as many drop shots as she could and took it to 5 – 3.  The crowd were quiet, caught up in the realisation that Bridgette might actually be able to beat this guy.  The two players were now locked in a serious battle. Mike took it to 5 – 5 and then 5 – 6.  Bridgette called upon her focus and her strategy.  Be consistent.  Get close to his body.  Slice it.  Go for his back hand.  Her mantras played over and over in her mind.  She took it to 6 – 6 and they were at tie breaker.  Mike was by this time sweating as much as Bridgette and playing for his island reputation (the crowd had gotten bigger as fellow holiday makers and Fijians alike had heard about the big night game on the court).  At the last minute, after 2 hours of playing hard out, Mike’s fitness showed and he won the game by 2 points.  But still the crowd roared for Bridgette… she had nearly won!  She had gone from “There’s no way you can beat him” to very nearly nailing it… without any more fitness or stamina than she’d had earlier in the day when he thrashed her.

Bridgette and I were talking about the power of planning and strategy in business when she told me this story.  The difference between her first game and second game was pure strategy.  She was nearly able to beat Mike because he had no game plan.  He was relying on his fitness and experience, he was a good player, but he didn’t know what to do with her when she attacked his weak spots.  As we laughed at the story and my admiration for Bridgette went up another notch (it was already pretty high), we agreed that this was indeed just like business.  When you know what you want (to win), you have a clear vision and a plan of attack, including playing to your competitors weakness, you can take on the big guys and succeed.

So a good parable well told by Bridgette over lunch.  The post script of course being that Bridgette is already planning her return visit to Mana Island next year with single minded goal to beat the island champion at his own game.  She’s going to add fitness and a few less trips to the buffet table to her game plan.  I know who I’ll be putting my money on…