Monthly Archives: April 2014

Episode 78: Start a Small Scale Business to Test Your Idea | Ben Alexander, Founder of Balloon Distractions

Ben Alexander founder of Balloon DistractionsBen Alexander is the owner of Balloon Distractions, who appeared on an episode of the Shark Tank. He didn’t get a deal with any of the Sharks, but he gained a lot of experience through the process. He talks with us about his experience on the Shark Tank as well as with his business. His advice to start with a small scale business is something that resonates with me.

Ben Alexander started Balloon Distractions in the Fall of 2003, starting an adventure that continues to this day. Balloon Distractions has been a blessing in his life, and the lives of all those who have learned a new skill, income, confidence and poise.

 

Zeb’s Take – Start with a Small Scale Business

It was great talking to Ben today about his business, how he’s been able to grow it and get these balloons out there; get kids excited, helping out restaurants and helping get people extra income as well. He started his business on a small scale.

The thing I want to expand on is that many people when they start a business they take out a loan, or try to find investors, or take out a second mortgage, or something similar to invest all that money into an idea. All because people tell them it’s a great idea. Then when they take it to market, they don’t get the response (in terms of sales) that they’re looking for.

What you could do with a business is start on a small scale, a small scale business. If you have a product, a service or an idea or something you want to try, do it on as small a scale as possible. See if you can get sales from it, because sales is the most important thing for any business. You really need to go out and seek those sales first to know if you have a business or not.

On Shark Tank the always about sales. How many sales do you have? Some of the people who go on the show haven’t even pushed the sales side of things for their business and then they don’t really know if their business is profitable or not. It doesn’t matter what people say, it matters what people buy in business.

Keep that in mind. If you have an idea, you don’t need a grandiose business launch. Find an inexpensive way to put it out there and try to sell it with your small scale business. Sometimes you don’t even need to have the product to sell it, you can get people to buy into the idea of the product. If you can get people to put money down based on an idea then you know you are onto something. Nowadays there are crowdfunding sites (like Kickstarter and Indiegogo) that you can get people to buy your product before it’s even out there on the market. That’s an excellent way to test and see if people are legitimately  interested in the product or not.

Contact Ben Alexander at Balloon Distractions

BalloonDistractions.comballoon-distractions-logo
BenAlexander@balloondistractions.com
If you are interested in growing a region contact Ben, (813) 391-3895

Quotes

  • “It’s always a bit of a leap to go from being an employee or salesperson to being a full on entrepreneur. I haven’t regretted it.”
  • “I’m looking for that 1% that are ballsy enough to be entrepreneurial, and say ‘Hey, I want to start something.’”
  • “That’s the amazing thing about capitalism in general, the creativity it engenders.”
  • “No one else has ever done what I’ve done.”
  • “I think there are not that many people out there that are actually entrepreneurial. If people had the choice between stepping out on their own and being entrepreneurial or working for $10 an hour. I think more people are likely to work for $10 an hour even though the gain is not as good.”
  • “I made kids happy; just did some goofy stuff and it was fun. I walked out of that gig I felt good. I felt good about the universe and I felt good about myself.[…] Doing balloons for people is a pretty humble thing to do.”
  • “To play it safe is also to play it boring.”
  • “Sometimes you just have to learn. The best lessons are going to be mistakes.”

Start with a small scale business to test your business idea.More From the Interview

Background
As a college student Ben took a semester to teach English in Taiwan where he met his wife. When he returned to school he was studying Economics and working as a waiter at a restaurant. At this restaurant they had a guy come in once in a while doing balloons, he serviced a few restaurants. Ben was getting tired of serving, he asked the balloon guy to teach him in return for payment. Ben joined his team and his first week doing balloons he made $800 in tips just from balloons. Ben thought, “wow, there’s something to this.”

When he graduated he got away from doing the ballooning, but he kept it in mind. He got married, had kids, got a job at a fortune 500 insurance company. In the summer of 03 he moved to Tampa Bay, he had a sales job that he hated and that wasn’t paying enough to cover his bills. He noticed there were a ton of restaurants, so he went out and started working at a couple doing ballooning. Then he went to the nearby college and recruited some students. We were in 30 markets by the time we were on The Shark Tank. He was in Episode 514 of The Shark Tank.

Ben lost his sales job when he was fired, but that day he went out and got 4 restaurants, a chain, to work with. He took that as a sign. I remember coming home and talking to a neighbor of mine who owned his own contracting business. He said, “You know you can always get a sales job. Why don’t you go out there and try to do this thing on your own. See if you can support yourself with your balloon business.” To this day Ben remembers that advice.

Ben says, If you’re doing 100% commision sales, you’re kinda already in business for yourself. You just maybe don’t have the structure behind you. I had experience in 100% commision sales, but I had never been a full on independent business owner or entrepreneur.

“It’s always a bit of a leap to go from being an employee or salesperson to being a full on entrepreneur. I haven’t regretted it. The last 10 years of my life, I’ve had the freedom to do a lot of things that I couldn’t to do if I had a normal 9-to-5 job.

“There’s definitely more risk in running your own business, but if you structure it right and you don’t go into crazy debt, it could be a nice lifestyle.”

Shark Tank
Shark Tank put them on a national stage. There are 200 markets in the United States, Ben is trying to get regional leaders and build a crew for each of the top 150 markets. They have regional leaders that work 15 hours a week, and we have people that are full time.

“I’m looking for that 1% that are ballsy enough to be entrepreneurial, and say ‘hey, I want to start something.’”

“Everything that you’re ever going to see that’s not natural started as an idea.”

“That’s the amazing thing about capitalism in general, the creativity it engenders.”

Ben suggests that if you’re an entrepreneur and you watch Shark Tank. If you have an idea try something on a real small scale. Don’t mortgage your house just to try something. If it’s profitable on a small scale you can grow it bigger and bigger and it tends to be profitable as you get larger.

To get on the show Shark Tank, Ben applied online, months later they asked him to create a audition video. He says, “I made it real wacky and crazy kind of like a Billy Mays Infomercial type of thing. I think they liked that.”

He says, to get on Shark Tank you can be an awesome person with an awesome business, but if it’s something people have seen before, like a fishing boat charter, or house cleaning… they want something different. When you tune in you have no idea what crazy off-the-wall creative wacky businesses you’re going to see.

The show suggested he do his sales pitch and then they drop balloons on him. They filmed in the morning, he didn’t know if it would go smoothly, he had no sleep the night before and he was heavily caffeinated. “I’m normally really hyper and energetic already, so to kick it up a notch, it just makes me look like totally nuts.”

“I think my pitch was not organized enough and I didn’t have a solid enough expansion plan.”

Balloon Distractions
“No one else has ever done what I’ve done.”

Ben still goes out and does gigs. He said “I made kids happy; just did some goofy stuff and it was fun. I walked out of that gig I felt good. I felt good about the universe and I felt good about myself.[…] Doing balloons for people is a pretty humble thing to do.”

What Ben wants to do is create a machine that, for example, is able to target St. Louis and in 90 days have a team up and running. He wants to do that without spending thousands of dollars in advertising to find those people.

Ben has several people that used to do balloons at restaurants for them that come back and become regional leaders.

“I think there are not that many people out there that are actually entrepreneurial. If people had the choice between stepping out on their own and being entrepreneurial or working for $10 an hour. I think more people are likely to work for $10 an hour even though the gain is not as good.”

“To play it safe is also to play it boring.”

Shark Tank boosted his business but it didn’t double it or do anything crazy.

Advice
There are 3 skill sets that are needed to run a business:

  • You need to be able to do it
  • You need to be able to sell it
  • You need to be able to manage the money

Ben says he should have, on day one, had someone come in and make sure the money was managed correctly.
He suggests: get a good accountant, get your quickbooks, and never get behind on taxes.

“Sometimes you just have to learn. The best lessons are going to be mistakes.”

Tim Robbins said it’s action, you have to take action, you can’t sit around and just plan s*** all day. You have to take action. A lot of people have these complicated business plans and they want to get a giant loan and all this other stuff. If you want to start a business, you need to take action up front.

You may have a great idea and people are like, “Wow, that’s a great idea!” And then you go out there and no one is willing to pay you a dime for it… maybe it’s not that great of an idea.

If you have an idea try it. Don’t try it for the next 30 years, but go present it to a hundred different people and just gauge the interest. If no one has any interest then take it back to the drawing board, improve it or change it. Even better, take your idea out there and ask, how can we make it better; you’d be amazed people will give you lots of information.

What do you think of Ben’s interview?

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Episode 77: Thriving Out of the Recession | Richard McKinnon, President of System 1 Interiors

Richard McKinnon of System 1 InteriorsRichard McKinnon is the owner and President of System 1 Incorporated. Because of Richard’s business sense, he realizes the importance on people to people interactions. That and advice from his father have helped him and his business get through the recession and thrive.

System 1 Interiors specializes in interior home remodeling including acoustic ceiling removal, plaster ceiling resurfacing, recessed lighting and interior & exterior painting. System 1 has been the leader in Acoustic Ceiling removal in southern California for over 30 years.

System 1 Interiors, Acoustic ceiling removal in southern California.

Zeb’s Take

He is a good friend of mine. Richie and I have known each other forever. He’s a really good guy. I’ve always been impressed with him. Basically, he was responsible for his entire family after his dad passed away and the business itself. He was able to overcome all of that and build a better stronger business. I’ve been working for Richie since the beginning of 2012.

The thing I want to touch on is the recession and how it contributes to business. In Richard’s mind he thinks that was a blessing. It was a good experience because he was able to take his business and lean it up, learn to make it more efficient, and that made his business ultimately better. He learned a lot of life lessons too; business lessons; what not to do, what to do. He really carved out a niche and now that his business is doing extremely well he has a much better understanding of his business. He runs a tight ship.

On more of a grand scale, I think, a recession really provides an opportunity. When you’re in a bull market and people are doing well in the economy, people look at the system in the wrong way. I’ve been involved with a few businesses where their question is, what’s the return on investment? They look at everything as numbers, and people like Richard and myself understand it’s not just a numbers game. It’s taking that extra step. Richard was on his way home when he got a call to do a job in Malibu, and even though he didn’t want to do it, he did, and it ended up saving his business. Those are the opportunities that you can’t value on a piece of paper. What ends up happening is people end up cutting those expenditures. They think, it’s going to cost this much in gas it takes this much time, it’s not an appropriate expenditure, let’s not do that. They miss out on this huge job, three months of business. They’re looking at numbers and not people and doing right by people. People look at numbers to tell the story of a business, but they can never take the place of the people to people interactions.

I’m going to work as hard as I can to make introductions, meet as many people, expose people to my business and add as much value and to genuinely help and be of service to people. If I looked at everything from a financial perspective, a balance sheet, whether or not going to the Chamber of Commerce was worth my time, whether or not having this podcast is worth my time, I would miss out on so many opportunities that have opened up as a result of me doing these things that I feel are necessary from a business sense.

The recession trims out those people that are looking at the bottom line. Those are the businesses that tend not to do so well in recessionary times. And the businesses that do do well, especially the ones that thrive out of a recession, are the ones that make those people to people encounters and really foster and develop those relationships.

 

Find out more about System 1 Interiors and Richard McKinnon

Go to www.system1interiors.com to contact Richie and find out more.

Quotes

  • “When I took over the business, for me, there was a lot of fear of the unknown. When I don’t have someone to go to, what is it going to be like when the training wheels come off?”
  • “We take pride in being the best. We’ll always strive for that.”
  • “Dealing with customers and dealing with employees and the different personalities and making that work and making it a positive thing. That’s the biggest struggle.”
  • “You’ve got to go, and you’ve got to do some things whether you like them or not sometimes because they could be very big opportunities.”
  • “I’ve always lived by the motto of just being real.”
  • “Don’t worry. Because it doesn’t improve anything in your life.”
  • “Just being a hard worker is successful in itself.”
  • “You’re going to be successful if you’re the best at what you do, or striving to be the best at what you do.”

richie

More from the Interview

How did System 1 Interiors get started?
In 1978 Richie’s father worked for a company that did acoustic ceiling spraying. He realized that if he had the right machinery and tools, he could start his own business and be able to raise and support a family. He knew he wasn’t the type to be answering to anyone, he wanted to be in charge of his own destiny. He got a loan from his father-in-law and began his business.

Richie grew up around his father’s business. He says, once he actually started working for his father he understood what it took. “It was very different: knowing what somebody does and then knowing what somebody does first-hand.” At the age of 20 he began working full-time with his dad. A few years later his dad was diagnosed with skin cancer. Richie decided he needed to get to know the business end of things as much as possible. He went with his dad to as many estimates and appointments, management things, as he could to see how things were done. When his father passed away Richie had already been mostly running the company for about a year and was able to get a lot of his questions answered.

He says, his father was the kind of person that no matter what, he would make something happen. “When I took over the business, for me, there was a lot of fear of the unknown. When I don’t have someone to go to. What is it going to be like when the training wheels come off?”

The Recession

“It was a complete blessing. It was business 101. It was a crash course. I really didn’t look at it then that way. I honestly get chills thinking about some of the things I had to go through, making decisions at such a young age. I was only 25 years old when I took over this company. We had, at the time, 7 employees. I had a lot of determination knowing that it really was sink or swim.”
Richie’s whole family was dependent on this business.

Richie says his business felt the impact of the economy on the decline before he heard about it in the news.
“I was grieving, at the time I had to put on that armor and lead this company through the troubled waters.” Having to explain to his long-time employees why there was no work while not really understanding why and trying to figure out how to fix it was difficult. In hindsight he realized that it’s nothing that they were doing wrong. It was difficult because a lot of the news wasn’t out he didn’t know how bad it was. “But the blessing about the economy dropping off for us, we’re a very very good business, we have a great reputation. I remember my father telling me before he passed, the one strength that you’re going to have and you’ll understand it one day, is that I’ve worked hard for 30 years of building this business to where it’s solid. No matter what you do, whether it’s advertising or things like that. We’ve built up a reputation… one day you’re going to see, when it gets busy again, just how much work was put into it.” He says, “Now I can understand that really what you put into your business, what you’re willing to put in, you will get it. So when you plant your seeds and you’re doing that hard work. A lot of times you don’t see the benefit, it comes later. A lot of times you can look back and say you know what, everything we did up to this point brought us through these lean times.”

The recession taught Richard to bear down and be a lean mean machine. They got a smaller shop, ordered less materials at a time, took away a lot of the things they didn’t actually need. If it wasn’t for the economy going down he says he would not have made those changes. Today System 1 would probably be wasting a lot of money, energy and resources, and not working as smart. “When you have an economic downturn, it’s really a reality check, and a time to go through everything and figure out what you need and don’t need. And then when the economy picks up all of a sudden you’re like a marathon runner, ready to go. … We’re better for it.”

I think a lot of our success has to do with the customer feeling comfortable and knowing exactly what they’re going to get and then where the success comes in is with executing that exactly as planned and exactly as you stated and if there is a hitch fixing it ASAP and making it right. That is the essence of what we try to do.

“My number one thing that I’ve learned is that clarity is key. Clarity is before you start anything with a customer you’re being crystal clear up front. In our business there are things that are unpreventable because of the nature of the business, explaining that to the customer ahead of time, so there’s not shock. Delivering exactly what you say you’re going to deliver. Knowing that it’s okay if somebody wants the impossible, to explain it, “That’s impossible.”

Biggest struggle
There are a lot of customers that are not capable of being pleased. Richie knows for certain they are the best company in southern California at what they do. “We’ve always known that we’re a very good company. We take pride in being the best. We’ll always strive for that.”

Dealing with customers and dealing with employees and the different personalities and making that work and making it a positive thing. That’s the biggest struggle.

Thriving out of the Recession

The last 3 years, his business has rebounded really well. The biggest asset to the company has been the internet. He says, the internet has separated the good companies from the bad companies. For the good companies, it makes them better. You don’t know who is going to put up reviews. We don’t have an on off switch where we do good work we do bad work. We only know how to do it well. If you can get a hundred reviews and 95 of them are straight A’s you’re going to get more business. At this point I’m not sure if the economy is as good as I believe it is, or if it’s a matter of since we’ve established ourselves as being a good company through our reviews that we’re just getting more work than others.

Advice

What’s the biggest piece of advice you learned from your dad?
Probably, never to give up on anything and to be there. It’s 4:30, it’s raining, there’s traffic and I get a call from a general contractor. He wants me to come to Malibu right now because a painting contractor didn’t show up. I really didn’t’ want to go; it’s going to take me an extra 3 hours to get home. But, I just had that advice, that you’ve got to go, and you’ve got to do some things whether you like them or not sometimes because they could be very big opportunities. It ended up being a job that probably saved our business back in 2008. I had no idea what it was, it ended up being a huge house for a Hollywood movie producer. It kept us busy for 2 or 3 months.

Be yourself. You don’t have to go and sell the jobs. You don’t have to put on a salesman pitch or face. Just go in there, be yourself and you’ll do fine. I’ve had to understand that I’m perfectly capable of doing this without having to try so hard on the sales pitch thing. Go in, be yourself and people will see though the fakes and phonies. I’ve always lived by the motto of just being real.

His advice to me was always just to be myself and to know that I’m perfectly capable of doing it.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who found themselves running a business, like you did?
Don’t worry. Because it doesn’t improve anything in your life.
Don’t let the doubt and the worry […] freeze you from having a clear brain and execute what you need to do. You start looking at the bills you have coming in and the amount of work you have and it will freeze you up. One great thing about business is that you can bounce back and it doesn’t take very long to bounce back. Knowing that not only can you bounce back, but you will, and it doesn’t take long.
If you keep going, and you work hard, and you’re never gonna give up, and you keep going at it. Not only is it a probability that you’ll bounce back but you can even turn it into something more amazing than what you had before.

I’m constantly trying to figure out how to perfect the business. Constantly trying to think of creating new businesses.
I don’t like the thinking that everybody just needs a slice of the pie. Create your own pie. I’m constantly thinking about what else can I do. I feel I’m successful because I have a business mind and I have a mind to create.

 

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Episode 76: Gamification Makes Learning The Golf Swing Fun | Nancy Dunn Kato, Published Author and CEO at SwingPlay.com

Nancy Dunn-Kato is a very well respected golf instructor, one ot the top junior golf instructors in the country. In our interview she talks about the gamification of teaching the golf swing; how she makes these simple little games to help kids learn the golf swing. There’s a movement in education about gamification, working to make the learning experience more fun and enjoyable.
Nancy Dunn-Kato of SwingPlay.com talks about the Gamification of the Golf Swing
Nancy Dunn-Kato has been a Certified Class A LPGA Teaching & Club Professional Member since 1989. She has played and taught golf for over 24 years.

Nancy’s company SWINGplay and its concepts are a direct result of her dedicated work with junior golfers and a real, practical, understanding of what works best. SWINGplay’s unique programs are specifically designed to focus the learning needs of young and adult golfers at all levels from beginner to advanced players. The SWINGplay systems and methods reinforce the play in golf – to keep the learning experience fun, positive, and filled with success that grows naturally out of children’s play. Skill and ability grow quickly through the game-play!

SwingPlay fun ways to teach the golf swing.Zeb’s Take

It’s obvious that Nancy really understands the golf swing, and how to teach the golf swing. She made a lot of good points; young golfers teaching other young golfers how to play the game and how young kids can teach parents and how valuable that can be and how you can bring the family together.

The thing she talked about that I want to expand on is making the golf swing fun. She talked about breaking it down into little smaller components, and then teaching that in a fun game type of way – gamification. She’s talking about making rainbows, knocking out shark’s teeth, dragons, Leprechauns, shooting spray guns. I’ve actually had a chance to see some of the stuff she is talking about and it’s very cool. I can see how young people can accept and understand it all very quickly because of the way she sets up these little games.

In education, we get so much information from so many different resources. Before the internet, teachers were more on their own. Now, there’s someone like Nancy who creates this killer program about how to teach the golf swing to young kids. She can take that and give that to golf instructors across the country and they can understand. I think this gamification of learning coincides with our social culture and the way that we are able to share knowledge today. It really enhances the learning experience, I think education needs to go that way. Having a teacher that stands in front of a class and lectures is like if Nancy were a golf instructor that stood there and just tells you what you’re doing wrong. Versus, talking about rainbows and dragons, you can imagine the difference that would have on a little child. You can teach the golf swing, just like you can teach anything else, through this gamification process.

What do you think about this gamification process?

Find out more about gamification of the golf swing, Nancy, and SwingPlay

Visit SwingPlay.com or email Nancy at Nancy@SwingPlay.com

Quotes

  • “It was really frustrating. I never wanted anyone to feel that way. I believed in my heart that I could find a way to make it much more easy for other people.”
  • “Golf has been made too hard to understand and it doesn’t have to be that way; it could be easier.”
  • “I love teaching teachers.”
  • “They’re learning and they don’t even know their learning. That’s the fun part.”
  • “I really really wanted to create something different.”
  • “People helping people and using golf as a way to get the community together.”
  •  “I just wanted to make something that makes the world a little better.”

nancy

 

More From the Interview

Nancy got involved in golf in college when a couple cute guys invited her to play at Torrey Pines. She borrowed a pair of clubs that morning and finished the day with a couple pars. When she told her golf buddies it was her first day, they were impressed. She checked out the golf scene and had the idea to become a pro in one year. She found a golf instructor, worked hard and reached her goal in a year and a half. She made several mini tours and was on the top ten list.

After her swing, put a coke can on her pitching wedge and she had to balance it, that was the start of all the games she began creating. It was about finding a way to make it fun after the lesson so she could understand it.

“When we were on the mini tour, none of us could afford golf lessons. So whoever would go get a golf lesson they would come and teach us what they learned.”

She got to train with Derek Hardy, who taught her a lot, she could have gone on and qualified for the tour, but she wanted to get better and shoot under par more often, but that wasn’t happening. She changed her path.

Golfs Greenland Book by Nancy Dunn-KatoShe wanted to become a teacher, so she could understand why the lessons were so confusing. “I would cry in front of Derek Hardy all the time, because I couldn’t understand what he was saying. It was really frustrating. I never wanted anyone to feel that way. I believed in my heart that I could find a way to make it much more easy for other people.”

She joined the LPGA, started as an apprentice, and was able to move up. She was lucky to be able to study under Chuck Hogan. He was part of the LPGA teaching them how to become better teachers. He was all about making things fun, and to do it through games. When she asked him how to be a better teacher, he said don’t just tell people what to do, they need to know why they should do it.

She started on a path where I broke down the whole game.

“It’s just taking old terminologies and making everything easier and something that people can put their thoughts around and understand really quickly and it’s kind of amazing if you can use games or sensory perceptive play, which is what I love to do.”

What is SwingPlay?
She took every part of the game and separated it into modules. Then broke it down into simple understandable sensory perception with a skill game, a sound game or anything with the senses. She uses story telling. With young kids she teaches them how to make rainbows and their club is the paint brush; there’s all kinds of different rainbows for the different golf swings. She is telling them how to make rainbows, but they’re learning about a golf swing.

Kids have hands-on experiences and they become more self aware. They get to experiment all through play and self discovery. The kids have a great time. They’re learning and they don’t even know they’re learning. That’s the fun part.

She says, the educators of the world, they get it. It’s the 21st century of learning; it’s more hands on and discovery, let the people figure it out for themselves.

I’ve had high school kids and college kids help mentor these younger kids with table top projects. These kids get to be mentors and as they are helping the younger kids they are learning too.

What do you enjoy most about teaching golf?
Watching people’s reaction when they get it.

What life lessons and values do you think golf teaches?
Patience, love, respect. One thing about a golf course is, it’s like a park, it’s green and beautiful. Teach them to pick up trash and take care of the golf green. It’s a place where kids can go and be in nature.

Her book, Golf Greenland, is a 4 hour lesson all about putting, through story-telling and games. The fundamentals you learn in putting just go larger as you go up the game.

She wants to find a good home for her program. She’s really excited that Newport Beach YMCA is excited about it. She’d like to see it at more places libraries, schools, and places like restaurants. Maybe even try to standardize golf using everything she has created, make it more fun and get more people involved.

 

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Episode 75: What Makes a Social Business | Michael Peshkam, Founder and CEO of Xincus

Michael Peshkam is the founder and CEO of Xincus. Xincus Michael Peshkam, founder of Xincus, a social business platform.gives businesses an opportunity to collaborate and communicate with each other on his platform and creates the opportunity to leverage social media. Michael talks about businesses and social media, noting that there is a difference between a business that uses social media and a business that is a social business.

Xincus is the first-of-its-kind online Social Marketplace for Business that makes the power of mass collaboration available to everyone by bringing together Experts, Businesses, and Enterprises to engage each other and create new business value and opportunities that they could not develop independently.

Zeb’s Take

Michael is extremely smart and knowledgeable. I really liked the correlations he made between the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and the implications of the power structure that is involved with each century and I agree with the direction he sees things going.

One of the things he brought up, that I want to touch on, is that there are businesses today that are using social media, and they think that’s being social, but it’s not. You need to incorporate social media into your business to create a social business. For example, The Tutoring Solution. I originally got started on Facebook and I wasn’t getting a lot of engagement. I racked my brain and came up with the idea to offer a scholarship. We call it the Share Your Passion Scholarship. To enter we ask students to write an essay to explain what they are passionate about, why they are passionate about it, and how they can use their passion to help others. Then we vote and choose the winner. We give the people on our Facebook the opportunity to vote and help us pick their favorite, and we encourage each of the students to get their friends on facebook to vote. We wouldn’t have started that scholarship if we weren’t thinking of ways to interact with our potential clients. Since then we’ve leveraged that scholarship into so many different areas. We have counselors at different schools recommending us, it makes more people aware of us, helps us get the word out, and then (most importantly) we’re just doing a really good cool service for kids that are passionate and excited.

Just doing social media in and of itself is not enough. In order to leverage social media and the potential of it, you need to make your business a social busienss where you are incorporating social media into the structure of your business. Michael had some great examples with Threadless, Sirius, and Nike to explain to become a true social business.

Find Out More About Xincus

Visit www.Xincus.com.

Xincus, The platform for Social Business

Quotes

  • “Once I am in a conversation with someone I am happiest when somebody takes away something from what I have said and also when I take away something from what the other person has said.”
  • “Right person, right know-how, right time and it can be a real game changer.”
  • Goal: “To help small/medium sized businesses to grow and thrive better, faster, cheaper and smarter.”
  • “It’s an opportunity to create an entrepreneurial society.”
  • “Having vision and idea is one thing, but having commitment and determination is quite another.”
  • “People want to contribute and be a part of something.”

michael-peshkam-quote

More from the Interview

Michael graduated in Europe, lived most of his life in Europe. Got a PHD studying aerospace and software engineering aka, rocket science. He worked in the UK for a fortune ten company. He has been fortunate enough to travel the world twice. In 1996 he hopped the pond and came over to the US where he became senior business IT executive and most recently an entrepreneur. He’s also been an associate professor teaching at university.

He’s worked in technology, education, business and now he’s an entrepreneur launching Xincus.

He says, Xincus is the next generation of social media known as social business. The migration from social networking to social media and now to social business. Essentially social business, in a nut shell, is creating business advantage through social technologies. You take the social media (your likes, friends, followers and so on) throw them in an environment which is specifically designed for your business and leverage the tools and technologies to create business advantage for you, whatever that business advantage may be. We’ve designed a platform to allow small and medium sized businesses to have internal collaboration just like bigger corporations and, in addition, it also has a marketplace where they can have better integration with their partners, customers and crowd. For SMBs to do what the larger organizations can do, plus they now have a marketplace like Ebay or Amazon. You can also integrate with other business owners to bring together: collaborate, create new knowledge, new know-how, new products & services and innovate things that would be better, faster and cheaper than if you were to do it on your own.Xincus, Social Business Platform

Social Business Examples

Threadless wanted to make T-shirts. Rather than go and design the shirts themselves, they created their own internal social business platform and invited designers to come and suggest designs. They managed to bring in the crowd, give them the opportunity to design, at the same time have the crowd select their favorite designs, then Threadless goes ahead and prints and sells T-shirts with the chosen designs. They created an integration of social media tools to bring the crowd into their own social business platform to create a business advantage.

Sirius Satellite Radio is one of the first examples of a social business. One of their channels, the least popular, was brainstorming how they could get more listeners. The executive suggested allowing customers come in and program their own playlists. After a while that channel became the most popular.

Traditionally Cimex would have brought in various consultants to over 200 locations around the world, complete a study, and go on to develop their alternative energy for their plants. But through use of social technologies internally, this time they linked their engineers into communities, sort of pilot social networks, and were able to accomplish the same thing within 6 weeks rather than 2 years.

On Entreprenureship

Many people have ideas, many people have visions, but they start half way through and they just give it up. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted.

Advice

You can think along two different lines: social media or social business. Social media, all the channels and tools available are fantastic and excellent for promotion, communication, advertising, and reaching out to the masses. But liking is not leading. Just because a business is on Facebook or LinkedIn does not make them a social business. You need to transform those likes and followers into leads where you can leverage them; give them something in return to help you accomplish more. Business owners these days have the entire world open to them.

Pondering Success

If they were asked to define success:
Mother Teresa, perhaps she would say, “I don’t want to see a single hungry child in the world.”
Albert Einstein‘s idea of success might be “I want to have one simple equation that would define the entire universe, the galaxies, the planetary rotations and so forth.”

To find out more about Michael Peshkam and Xincus, visit Xincus.com.

 

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Episode 74: How A Job Can Allow You to Pursue Your Passion | Danielle Tucker Host of The Golf Club Radio Show

Danielle Tucker from RadioGolfClub.comDanielle Tucker’s Golf Club Radio Show has been broadcasting from Hawaii since 1999.   Danielle interviews PGA, LPGA and International Golf Professionals, Young Rising Stars, Teaching Pros, Sports Shrinks, Authors, Mental Coaches, Golf Equipment Companies, Club Designers and Golf Broadcasters. Danielle Tucker is the host of Radio Golf Club. It’s a live radio golf show that takes place in Hawaii. One of the things that came up in the interview that I thought was interesting, because it’s a different point of view from other guests of our podcast. She’s doing this as a side job. This radio show, she does it on a saturday. She has her normal work week and then she goes in and does this podcast on a Saturday because it’s something she really loves and she has the opportunity to do it.

Zeb’s Take

She has a lot of energy and excitement. She’s professional and the way she carried herself, and that extra energy she put into the interview, not to mention the insights that she gave. One thing that I thought was unique was that she encouraged people not to leave their job to pursue something like what she is doing. She is doing her golf club radio show because she loves it and for no other reason. She works her regular job, which I’m sure she enjoys, but maybe not to the full extent that she’s living her passion in that sense. But, it creates the opportunity that she can do something that she loves. What I’m doing right now in my business I know is my passion. I know that I’m working hard and making things happen, I think it’s going to be good in that sense. For Danielle, I think she is doing exactly what it is that she wants to. You can tell that she loves and enjoys what she does, just like I love and enjoy what I do. I think there are opportunities out there for people. You have to choose the path that’s right for you. Some people think they have to leave their regular job and become an entrepreneur to find success not really thinking about their passion is. Think about what it is you enjoy and that experience and how can you make that happen. Sometimes that will mean extra sacrifices. Working a 9 to 5 job to do that stuff that she loves on the weekends. It’s really up to you to determine what that sacrifice is.

Listen to Danielle Tucker’s Golf Club

Visit RadioGolfClub.com hear all Danielle Tucker’s episodes from 2005 and live streaming episodes every Saturday.

Danielle Tucker's Golf Club Radio Show and Podcast

Quotes

  • “The best thing I can tell you about growth is never being satisfied with the work you’re doing.”
  • “The key to a successful interview is making someone comfortable.”
  • “To me every piece of work that I do, I’m working and I’m playing at the same time.”
  • “It’s up to me to keep it moving, keep it bright, tight and outta site!”
  • “We all learn differently, we all hear differently.”
  • “It’s always asking yourself, how could I have done that better.”
  • “The hardest thing to do in the business of radio is to listen to yourself.”

More from the Interview

Danielle has been in the broadcast business for a long time. Her past as a News Director, Co-Host, all built her experience working in a live radio environment. Her dad encouraged her to do a golf radio show, even though her station didn’t have any sports programming. Years later, someone approached her about doing a golf talk show. It was weird and perfect. At first, she was worried about running an hour long talk show, her experience had not prepared her for that. She was very nervous, but went ahead anyways. The person at the radio station loved it. She was able to expand it, find other radio stations that wanted to have the show. She started streaming it, and here she is today. Her dad came from England. He saw America as a land of opportunity. His proficient golf abilities allowed him to create great business contacts. He ended up in LA where he heard a radio show about golf. He knew golf was growing in the United States and that’s when he began encouraging his daughter to pursue a radio show talking about golf. Danielle used to work at an indoor golf facility. Over the years she has played lots of golf. She does traffic reports in the mornings and afternoons for five radio stations and on television. On Saturdays, she does her radio golf show. On Sundays she tries to get on the course, but all her work keeps her busy. She stays up to date on the game. she is engrossed in the game; but she needs work to carve out time for, if not 18 holes, at least nine. When she’s on the course, she just wants to stay out there forever. Danielle began her radio show about 1999 when Hawaii had a lot of impressive golf events going on. Pacific Golf Academy, Danielle’s workplace, was approached by a radio station to see if they wanted some advertising time on their station. Instead, The Pacific Golf Academy asked about doing a radio show for the station about golf and they were able to find sponsors to help pay for the air-time. I am paid to do what I do for a living. I work for a corporation that owns radio stations. I’ve worked in the business for a long time and my credibility is very good. People respect and listen to me and trust that what I tell them is accurate and fact. I have my credibility. The Golf Club Radio Show: The radio show is live 10am on Saturday mornings streaming online at RadioGolfClub.com. After each episode the programs are uploaded as podcasts to listen to any time. She has callers from around the world, all involved in the golf industry. Some of her impressive guests include Peter Alice, Arnold Palmer, Alice Cooper, Bubba Watson, Ben Rice, plus people who either do broadcast or architectural work and a lot more. If you’re going to listen to one episode, Arnold Palmer and Bubba Watson were great interviews. The most irreverant and the most honest interviews were Peter Alice and Ben Rice. They talk about golf as they see it. They weren’t afraid of saying things that might make waves, or rock the institutional world of golf. Usually her older guests are not as worried about saying things that might be disruptive. For me to look back at myself and what I’ve done in the past. I’d probably be very uncomfortable listening to myself. Because as I’ve gotten more comfortable I became better at making other people be comfortable being on air. The show allows her to get outside of the ever-confining radio tactics. She remembers the business of radio used to be free flowing; for the people on the radio they were deciding and doing things instataneously. It was art. Then corporations took over and now things are much more controlled. There is no spontaneity left in the business. Doing my golf show is a constant spontaneous moment. Advice: Her advice for someone who wants to start a radio show or a podcast would be: be willing to work for no money, hope that you learn a whole lot in a very short period of time, keep your ears open and your mouth closed, and practice. Talk, read out loud, express yourself, do the show for your family, friends, or dog. You can’t be afraid to say what you think. It’s a passion that you may not be rewarded for financially. She says, “I don’t recommend that anyone give up their job and look for a gig in radio or do a podcast and expect to actually feed themselves. You have to want it so bad that you’re willing to keep the job that you don’t necessarily like. Find a place where you can become successful inside yourself by expressing through a podcast the thing that you like to talk about. So when you go to work, at least you have a place where on the other side, that part of you that needs desperately to be fulfilled is being fulfilled through this additional outlet.” It’s a hobby. From her experiences she’s learned confidence, to be comfortable with herself, and to laugh in the face of almost anything. Different people gravitate to different personalities. “We all learn differently, we all hear differently.” Insight: Most successful people don’t think they’re successful, because to be successful you have to be pushing yourself to be successful. There comes a point where you might have an off day, and your audience will allow you that, but they won’t all multiple off days in a row. You have to be striving and making yourself – reinvent yourself, it’s the biggest cliche ever. To me that means, I want to learn something new today, I want to challenge my brain today, I want to bring something new to the table today, I don’t even know what that is, but I’m going to open myself up to find it. That to me, I think I’m successful. I’m never satisfied with what I’ve created. I might be happy with it, it might be rewarding, but I know I could have done it better. The hardest thing to do in the business of radio is to listen to yourself. I don’t know anyone in this business of radio who likes the sound of their own voice. When you’re listening to yourself you’re not hearing yourself, you’re hearing the tape in your brain. You’re hearing the moment in your head and that’s what makes you uncomfortable. I’m am a sum of being a mother a grandmonther, having supported myself through college without any help from my parents, paying off my college loans by myself, finding a job, working three jobs while going to school, working for free for two jobs, then having to find a job to keep another job. To me right now success would be to be able to retire and say “yo, let’s play a round of golf, the sun’s out.” My son says I was the best mom. My grandson misses me. Hearing my son and grandson say that, it doesn’t get any better. Now go out there and find your success!

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Episode 73: Connect with Influential People | John Corcoran, Host of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast

John Corcoran knows how to connect with influential people.  He has worked in the White House, he has met presidents, he has his own law firm, there are so many different things this guy has done. He’s great at networking with very important people, he has lots of tips and information on how we can network better.

John's talent of building business relationships with VIPs including presidents and important decision makers has helped him define success.

John Corcoran shows entrepreneurs and small business owners how to bring in more clients, customers and revenue by building relationships with VIPs and top performers.  He’s also the host of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.

Smart Business Revolution Podcast - Turn Your Relationships Into Income

Zeb’s Take

In this interview I found I had a lot in common with John. Especially, the similar outlook that we both have on life. What stuck out to me was the task that he encourages people to tackle. He said sit down and create a list of people that you want to get to know better in the next few months. Assignment: Today take the time to sit down and write a list of 20 people that you want to get to know better in the next three months. It could be people in your field, politicians, people locally, maybe potential customers. Then, work on ways to introduce yourself to those people. I’ve never done this before, but I already know that this would provide value for my business. It’s something that I kind of do already with this podcast. The Defining Success Podcast is a perfect example of how I used John’s strategies to connect with influential people. It started as a way to build connections. It gave me a reason to reach out to these people. Then I can get to know them better, they get to know me better, and our world’s collide during the interview. Afterwards, this person knows me. We have the potential to connect again down the line to help each other in business. I’ve made some fantastic contacts and met some wonderful and helpful people. I want to connect with all of our listeners and hear what you have to say about this assignment and this idea. Connect with me, go to Facebook.com/DefiningSuccesPodcast and let me know what you think.

Free Ebook from John Corcoran

Download John Corcoran’s ebook at this exclusive link for Defining Success Podcast listeners: SmartBusinessRevolution.com/DefiningSuccess

Quotes

  • “You are what others perceive you to be […] If you act like you belong, you can often belong.”
  • “The key thing is keeping in touch with people who are going to help your career go in the direction that you want it to go.”
  • “Think proactively about the people that you do want to surround yourself with.”
  • “When you have a strength, it’s not you who sees it. It’s others who see it.”
  • “As a business owner nothing tops the satisfaction of a job well done for one of your clients.“
  • “Success is not on anyone else’s terms. It’s your own choice. You define what success is.”

John Corcoran shows entrepreneurs and small business owners how to bring in more income and clients by building real human relationships with influencers, VIPs, and people who matter.

More from the Interview

John Corcoran’s career path has taken him all over. He’s gone from DC to Silicon Valley and he’s worked with people from DreamWorks and Hollywood to Bill Clinton and his staff. Eventually he founded his own boutique law firm where he works with a lot of startups and small business owners. All these different positions came from the relationships he developed and how he was able to gain opportunities through those relationships when it came to his career path. One of John’s first jobs was at a brand new company at the time, DreamWorks. He was exposed to VIPs and often was around celebrities. There he learned that in Hollywood you are what others perceive you to be. If you act like you belong, you will belong. In college, Corcoran was part of the White House Internship Program where he got to work in the White House speech writing office. As he finished his degree he set his sights on getting a job in that same office. He kept in touch with the people he met during his internship and from one of them heard about a position with the speechwriters and was hired at the White House for first big major job after college. He says, the key thing is keeping in touch with people who are going to help your career go in the direction that you want it to go. And often times people don’t think about these things. Our network often comes more by happenstance rather than by thinking proactively about what direction you want your career to go, who are the people that can help you get to that point, and who are the people that can motivate you to get there. John was unaware of his talent for developing relationships and building his network until it was reiterated to him several times by other members of a mastermind group he participated in. He had written blogs before, but not until he changed direction did he find the reaction he was looking for. John writes about something that comes so naturally to him, nurturing relationships with people. Much of what he shares involves using social media tools to establish and build your network in a positive way. Broaden your circle of influence. Be helpful to the people you reach out to. Don’t wait to be successful in order to implement things right now. Doing it right now, implementing the tools now can help you become successful. Cool Experience: You often see when you’re around someone like the leader of the free world, they have this magnetic charisma and it can be very intimidating. It can be very difficult to approach that person. First, everyone appreciates a sincere compliment. Have a human conversation with someone, that’s a great way to break through and have a really normal connection with someone no matter how successful they are. When meeting President Clinton, John knew that the president was building his DVD collection, so he brought him a few old westerns on DVD. He said, they were able to connect and it was the most normal conversation you could be having with someone, except it was in the Oval Office of the White House with the leader of the free world. Advice: No matter who you are talking to, no matter who you want to meet, find a way to connect with them on something personal and something that they are interested in, and make a connection on that in whatever way possible. That will serve you well. Insight: Working at the white house was a tremendous honor and a privilege, but I was missing that immediate feedback and sense of gratification that you get from a personal job well done. As a business owner nothing tops the satisfaction of just a job well done for one of your clients.

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Episode 72: The Social Golf Course Part 2

The Social Golf Course was written by Zeb Welborn and John Hakim.

The Social Golf Course by Zeb Welborn and John Hakim

The Social Golf Course

In Episode 72 of the Defining Success Podcast we go through our book chapter by chapter and discuss the ideas presented in the book. At the end of each chapter we present a question in our book, which we encourage readers to engage with on our website, SocialGolfCourse.com.

In Part 2, we discuss Chapters 9 – 14.

‘The Social Golf Course’ with John Hakim, Part 2

Chapter 9: How to Become a Social Golf Course
Basically, in this chapter we walk through each platform and the basics of how to use each platform. Create a social culture and reflect that culture online through your website, email list/newsletter, Facebook, Blog, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Social media is constantly evolving and each platform will offer different ways to reach out and encourage golfers to play your course.

Which platform is the most important for golf courses to utilize to reach more customers?

Chapter 10: Greenskeeper.org Golf’s Social Network
In this chapter we discuss how golf courses can leverage Greenskeeper.org. How they can use it for free, and why Greenskeeper.org is a media buy.

How do I get more GK’ers playing my golf course? More ideas!

Chapter 11: Creating Content to Build a Golf Community
Creating content for social media is not easy. In this chapter we have lots of ideas and examples for creating content that will resonate with your golfers. Macro content is larger pieces of content designed to educate, entertain, or help tell the story of a golf course. Including 19th Hole Stories, the golf stories you share in the clubhouse before and after a round of golf. Micro Content can be posted more frequently. It is smaller pieces of content that are designed to build engagement.

What is your favorite 19th hole story?

Chapter 12: Implementing Social Media: Getting Your Staff Involved
To transform your course into a social golf course it’s important to have several members of your staff contributing. Staff members from marketing, top level management, turf management, the pro shop, tournament organization, event planning, and outside services can all be a part of your course’s social media presence.

What ideas do you have to get golf course staff more involved in the social media presence at your golf course?

Chapter 13: Managing Your Reputation
Today, customers naturally filter sales messages because the internet, search engines and social media provide a more accurate representation of your golf course. Properly handling negative and positive reviews on your social networks can not only bring more golfers to your course, they can help you make your business better.

How do you handle positive or negative reviews at your golf course? Have any examples?

Chapter 14: The Social Golf Course
Creating the social golf course will take hard work commitment and dedication. The social golf course is proud of their product. They strive to give the best golfing experience to every golfer that visits the course and then work to share that experience with as many people as possible.

Use social media effectively and turn your golf course into The Social Golf Course.

Do you have questions about how to turn your golf course into a social golf course?

Visit www.SocialGolfCourse.com!

Check out the book on Amazon.com, The Social Golf Course: Increasing Rounds with Social Media. Available for Kindle (you can download the kindle app for free on most smart phones, tablets, and computers!) and as a paperback.

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