Countdown to the Olympics: How to be an Olympic-level entrepreneur #12

The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, British C...
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In 12 days*, the 2010 Winter Olympic athletes will compete to be the best in the world. Entrepreneurs compete for a similar pinnacle of success every single day. This series of blogs will countdown to the Olympics with 31 ideas about what it takes to achieve gold in your business.

To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur, you need to recognize that things will be different after… then prepare for it and leverage it.

After an athlete competes at the Olympic level, everything changes. Their future course takes on a new perspective. They may or may not end up becoming professional athletes (it depends on the sport and whether there is adequate sponsorship). They may or may not end up working in an office somewhere. This realization hit me a couple of years ago when I did some writing for a business owner who had been an Olympic athlete and now ran her own real estate investing firm. Although her medal-winning efforts in the Olympics had been over for nearly a decade and she was busy with her real estate business, she was still doing related activities like speaking in schools or doing philanthropic work.

Olympic-level entrepreneurs face the same opportunity. When they reach a certain level, their future takes on a new perspective. While not everything will be a guaranteed success, they will more likely be successful because they know what it takes AND because they’ve already achieved a position that will ensure a certain level of automatic response.

If you’re aspiring to be an Olympic-level entrepreneur then your best choice is to focus intently on that goal and achieve… and then build on that success. (And committing to some additional philanthropic work afterwards is probably a good idea, too).

* Disclosure: I was traveling recently and didn’t always have access to the internet, so I missed a couple of publishing dates. This blog has been published and back-dated to keep the countdown sequential.

Countdown to the Olympics: How to be an Olympic-level entrepreneur #13

The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, British C...
Image via Wikipedia

In 13 days, the 2010 Winter Olympic athletes will compete to be the best in the world. Entrepreneurs compete for a similar pinnacle of success every single day. This series of blogs will countdown to the Olympics with 31 ideas about what it takes to achieve gold in your business.

To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur, all of your life centers around this moment.

You can be sure that athletes who are planning to attend the Olympics have a great big red circle around those dates on their calendars. Aside from a serious emergency, very little will keep them from attending the games. They know that they probably only have a couple shots at competing at the games so they’re not going to screw it up by also planning other things – like a weekend of binge-drinking prior to their departure. Olympic athletes put other things on hold in their lives for the brief period of time leading up to and during the games.

Olympic-level entrepreneurs need to make a similar decision. I’m not suggesting that they can’t enjoy themselves or have to ignore family and friends. But the principle is the same: The opportunity to compete at the Olympic-level means filtering all decisions by asking: “Will this help or hinder my brand?” This decision-making process will guide all business decisions and help Olympic-level entrepreneurs as they consider new business opportunities, product endorsements, and whether or not to accept a new client. It also influences what entrepreneurs do in their off-time. A weekend of binge-drinking may affect an entrepreneur’s success in the same way it would affect an athlete’s success.

Olympic athletes have the games circled in red on their calendars. Olympic-level entrepreneurs have every single day circled in red on theirs.

Letter to Steve Jobs from the devil

FROM THE DESK OF THE DEVIL

January 1997

Dear Mr. Jobs,

Congratulations on your return to Apple. I received your letter expressing concern over your lack of marketable ideas and was quite interested in your proposal offering your soul in exchange for some compelling products.

I think I can help. I’ve got some top-notch people in Hell’s Idea Kitchen and I’ve told them to develop brands and products that Apple can offer its customers. Our plan is to first build a legion of devoted followers and then provide you with a line-up of products and brands for a phased roll-out over the next couple of decades.

We’re thinking of clean looking designs with intuitive functionality. We think a brand with the selfish “i” prefix would fit really well here: iTunes, iPhone, iPad, etc. We can dialogue on this but I’ll have my people put together a quick PowerPoint Keynote on our ideas.

I’ve enclosed a contract to solidify the exchange of your soul for our ideas. Sign it and fax it back to 666-HELL at your earliest convenience.

Oh, I also received your note about not owning enough shirts. I respectfully disagree: Black looks good on you and I’ve enclosed several more black shirts as a gift. You’ll find they fit perfectly.

On a personal note, I love the “Apple” brand. I’ve always had an affinity for apples since the Garden of Eden, so I think there’s a potential brand alignment here!

Sincerely,

The Dark Lord of the Underworld

PS, In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know that I have a separate agreement with Bill Gates.

Countdown to the Olympics: How to be an Olympic-level entrepreneur #14

The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, British C...
Image via Wikipedia

In 14 days, the 2010 Winter Olympic athletes will compete to be the best in the world. Entrepreneurs compete for a similar pinnacle of success every single day. This series of blogs will countdown to the Olympics with 31 ideas about what it takes to achieve gold in your business.

To be an Olympic-level entrepreneur, you need to play fair to win.

It seems like every year there are various doping allegations — which sometimes are revealed to be nothing and sometimes turn into scandal. Olympic athletes are rightly expected to compete fairly and rely on their skill and training rather than on pharmaceutical enhancement. Those who are caught are disqualified and shamed.

Olympic-level entrepreneurs will find the temptation to cheat as well: From “black hat” SEO to fake testimonials on websites to content ripped off from uncredited sources. The fiercer the competition gets, the more tempting it is for entrepreneurs to adopt these practices. Although it may seem naive of me, I believe that unethical business practices give short-term wins while ethical business practices provide a true foundation for long-term success.