5 Don’ts Of Business Success


1) Don’t ask a group of people to do something you won’t ask your friend to do. Make better surveys. Target the right tribes. Create evaluations people get something from.

2) Don’t think the conversations others have are the ones you want to have. Not everyone cares about what you care about.

3) Don’t start with the product then come up with a story for it. If you don’t have a story to start from, then go out and experience more.

4) Don’t stand in front of your product. Get behind it, engage in the conversation that’s happening, be part of the avant-garde users.

5) Don’t put the spotlight on those who dislike you, your business or your product. Instead, put and keep the spotlight on your best customers.


Stay Positive & Simple, But Easily Forgotten

Photo credit

Successful Entrepreneurs

Successful Entrepreneurs

You can label a handful of people as successful entrepreneurs, but it does damage to one’s perception of what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

A group of businessmen and women may be labeled as successful entrepreneurs, but they are all successful in different ways. They all accomplished their goals of starting and running a remarkable business differently.

There are no manuals for becoming a successful entrepreneur because there’s no one way to do it. Everyone does it differently.

The best way to market, the best way to start a business, the best way to get on the NYT bestseller list is your own way, the way YOU invent.

Even if you mimic the work of Gladwell or Godin, there’s only one Gladwell and Godin; there’s no room for you. That’s the way it ought to be.

Decide now that you’ll be a successful entrepreneur, but don’t expect to get there solely by following a step-by-step guide (because there isn’t one).


Stay Positive & Go Create Your Own Guidelines To Becoming A Successful Entrepreneur

Photo credit

The Most Important Mindset For Building Your Skill Set

Mindset, Skill set, Success

There’s a particular mindset that makes you indispensable, a true linchpin.

It is a commitment to see a project through.

I’ve had (emphasis on past tense) team members who started a project with me, but then ran away when real work was in order.

We’ve all had people tell us they will do something, then fail to do it.

I’ve made my own mistakes of sitting back, too. A perfect example is Curb Magazine.

As managing editor, I’m involved in the entire process of making a magazine from scratch. From philosophy ideation, all the way through the launch and distribution of the final product. I work with four different teams (editorial, online, creative, and business) to reach distribution.

After we submit our design to the press house, and before distribution, the press house gives our publisher a proof copy of what they will print. Instead of getting involved in the last proofing process (the last chance to make any corrections to the magazine), I let my other team leaders handle it.

I didn’t see the process through, and, as a result of leaving the rest of the project to them (and no insult to their talent), two words are missing at the bottom of the first page of my story in the printed version of the magazine… all 10,000 of our one-time printed version. #lessonlearned

All of the skills businesses, companies, agencies, and leaders look for… they all make up the mindset of one’s commitment to a project, to their work, to passion.

When you get in the habit of seeing things all the way through, there’s no doubt you learn and strengthen all the skills employers and team members look for.

When you don’t follow through, you bring everyone down and hold yourself back.


Stay Positive & They’re Not Kidding When They Say Success Is A Mindset, Not A Skill List

Photo credit

Your Consumers Are Only Getting Smarter


The uninformed consumer is passé.

It’s ever more important to put a story out that matters (if not because you actually have one that matters, but because it is becoming the only way to survive in business).

The days of advertising and appealing to the mass are over. Now people are steadily searching out brands, reading about stories, seeing reviews from people who worked at the company of the product they want to buy. They actively ask what their friends think of a particular product before making a purchase. They read the “about us” page before they continue looking at what to buy.

Very soon Unilever will lose customers to their brands because people will see that they run provocative ads for their Axe brand that directly counters the messages they are trying to get across with their Dove brand.

These conglomerates that are trying to reach the mass by switching what brand they slap on a product won’t benefit them in the long run, simply because people are now realizing how one company is running the majority, and they’re not happy about that.

Take the beer industry for instance. The rise in craft brewery sales can be pinned (among other things) to consumer’s realization that Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are the parent companies to some of their previously favorite beer brands.

Now people are starting to go to the restaurant that has a family story over the chain restaurant where computers rule.

In the past, having 20 brands owned owned by a parent brand worked. Now people want one brand (the parent) with one product. And that’s good for you and me because it offers us the chance to tell a story that truly matters, resonates with humans (not robotic consumerists), and allows us to pour our hearts into one bucket.


Stay Positive & Being Passionately Forward Leads To Consumer Attachment

Photo credit

Two Ways To Succeed

Hustle & Endurance

Some successful entrepreneurs, writers, artists are hustlers. They beat the competition because they work harder, faster, smarter. They give themselves short deadlines they never miss. They run laps around their competitors.

The other successful method is endurance. If you can just outlast your competitors, you will succeed. People who blog every day for four years, manage to host a podcast seven days a week, write a book each year, they succeed because they have built themselves to survive.

Both methods have their tribulations. The challenge is choosing which is true to you, your energy, your passion.


Stay Positive & Choose, Then Run With It

Photo credit

Dana Arnold – On Her Soapbox

Dana ArnoldIt takes less than a minute in the same room as Dana Arnold to hear her signature laugh and see her contagious smile. Behind the smile is a high-powered woman and thought leader who started her own public relations practice at 25 and is currently the Director of Public Relations and Social Media at Hiebing, an integrated marketing and brand development firm in Madison, Wisconsin.

“I’ve always known PR is what I wanted to do,” Dana says, dressed like a CEO, but with her dark brown hair let down. After completing internships while at John Carroll University, she landed a gig at Akhia, a small PR agency in Ohio. Her first full-time boss, Jan, became one of her idols. Today, a photo of Jan rests on a desk shelf in Dana’s office at Hiebing. The photo reminds Dana how great it was to have a boss who is skilled at finding great talent and helping them understand how valuable they are to the agency.

“She taught me how to lead with empathy, to care as much about individuals as the work they are doing,” Dana says. “People don’t work for companies, they work for people. That’s how loyalty is created.”

After three years of learning and building loyalty, Dana moved to Arizona where her passions for food, cooking and restaurants could be combined with her PR skills. In Scottsdale, Arizona, hospitality is big business. Openings of new restaurants and hotels happen every week, building the tourism market and making the market extremely competitive. Dana stepped in that market to create a buzz around businesses that would have difficulty doing so on their own.

At age 25, Dana started Soapbox PR. “Ignorance is bliss,” she says while laughing. At the time she was building her business, her business coach Troy Henson, who was with Be! Coaching, recommended reading the E-myth. The myth is the mistaken belief that a business is started by someone with phenomenal business skills, when, in fact, most are started by those who may know little about running a business, but push forward anyway.

“80 to 85 percent start their own business by saying ‘I can do this on my own, I can do this better on my own, and make money on my own. I got this.’ Which is totally how I was,” Dana says. “What they don’t realize is that starting a business is 1/3 of the work.” They forget they have two other jobs of getting new clients and being a manager of people, according to Dana.

Dana was lucky she enjoyed seeking new clients, kickstarting projects, building new relationships, and everything that goes into the action of getting new clients. As for the action of managing people, she learned something vitally important along the way.

“Initially I subscribed to the notion of ‘I want to hire people I don’t have to manage.’ And that’s just stupid,” Dana says. “[Now] the people I want on my team are those who want to be pushed, want to be given feedback, and want to know what they should be doing different or better… I learned that coming out of the gates.”

While any entrepreneur learns plenty on their own, a mentor is vitally important when starting a business, according to Dana. “Whether you’re a business of one person or 20 people, if you are the head of that business, you are the end of the line, and it’s a stressful place to be,” Dana says. “There was no doubt I was going to continue to climb, but the coach helped me spike and not let the valleys get as deep as they could have if I didn’t have someone to help me there.”

Four years later, Soapbox PR merged with Olson Communications and Dana acquired the title of vice-president. Three years after the merge Dana admitted what many confess when they stop learning. “I was bored,” Dana says. “I don’t know how to explain it any other way.”

Dana came to an agreement with Olson Communications that she would retain the restaurant-related clients for her own independent PR practice called BigKitchen Marketing.

Through her endeavors, Dana learned three main qualities to seek in a work partner. Are they cheap? Are they good? And are they fast? In order to have a successful partnership, you need to pick someone who excels at two of the three qualities, according to Dana. This trifecta framed Dana’s decision-making process of whom to work with.

“I have a client who’s asking for turnaround tomorrow so I can’t work with this guy who is slow as molasses, as cheap as he is or as good as he is. So I’ll go over here to someone who is more expensive, but good and fast,” Dana says. “And some people are only one of the three and you need to get rid of them.” Ultimately it is through trial and error where you figure out who you will ultimately partner with. As with any solo endeavor, there are limitations to what you can do alone.

At Hiebing, Dana found her home, her family, the place where she wouldn’t get bored, wouldn’t need to do things alone, and where she could always learn from others. Not only is Dana on the management committee at the agency, but she is also on the board of directors. “I’d like to think that I play a key role in helping to define our culture, growth trajectory and financial success because of this,” Dana wrote in email. While at Hiebing she gets to mentor aspiring marketers and entrepreneurs, she is also in an environment where she continues to learn.

Dave Florin, president of Hiebing, taught Dana the importance of feedback. “Accountability is so important,” Dana says, reflecting on the lessons from Dave. “It showcases that you care about somebody when you give them feedback.” Feedback also means observing if someone is trying their hardest. “[When] they are selling themselves short of what they are capable of, not realizing their full potential,” Dana says. “That drives me bonkers.”

Today, Dana continues to stretch her capabilities and excel at her role at Hiebing by seeking out new challenges. She dances on the line of being the teacher and the student. Above all, despite her superpowers, Dana continues to be human and makes mistakes.

“The ones that bother me the most are the ones where I thought I should do something, but I didn’t make the time to do it and I regretted it on the other side,” Dana says. “If I only would have spent the five minutes to make the phone call or 10 minutes on a conversation about the thing I just thought of. It’s the little things.”

Two photos of her boys, Frankie (8) and Dominic (6) on her desk shelf and the several hours Dana says she works begs one of the most important questions of a PR pro who has had a habit of putting in 60 hours of work a week: How do you balance work and life?

“Work life balance is what you make it,” Dana says. “I used to sweat the balance, but when I was at South-by-SouthWest (an interactive conference held in Austin, Texas) I saw a panel of female executives, and one of them said to stop talking about balance. It makes you feel like you’re on a teeter-totter. It’s not work-life balance. It’s work-life blend.”

Dana has stopped worrying what other people think her balance looks like and now concerns herself with the blend that works for her, her husband Keith, and her kids. “I checked the box this past year getting over what I should be doing to what feels right,” Dana says.

There is no doubt Dana will continue to climb the PR ladder, to do what feels right, and expose herself to more growing and learning opportunities. “You attract what you are passionate about,” Dana says.


Stay Positive & Takes All You Can From This Profile Piece

The What Will Change, Will You Let It?


I’ve learned from a friend, founder of Bicad, that while the why, where, when, and how of a startup needs to stay the same, the what can often change. And that’s okay. It should…at first.

When you’re resistant to changing your what, you’re preventing yourself from growth, and ultimately success.

Many startups start with the mindset at being remarkable at one thing, their thing, and that’s it. The reality is as they grow and connect with others, clients will ask for different things.

The challenge of startups is to not stretch too thin by taking on whatever is asked, but at the same time not dispel the common needs of potential clients.

It’s much more difficult to instill a need than it is to fulfill a need that is already there.


Stay Positive & Find The Best What