Friday, June 21, 2013

Axiom 36: The Problem of You

"The way we see the problem is the problem." -Stephen Covey

"A problem is a chance for you to do your best." -Duke Ellington

A problem is an opportunity, not a setback. For too long people have blamed problems on others. I'm here today to tell you most of your problems are opportunities in disguise.

Everyone has troubles in life from time to time, but ultimately it is who you blame for those troubles and how you react to those troubles that defines your world.

Don't get me wrong - everyone deserves help when they're in trouble. The problem is when some people continuously blame other people instead of themselves for all of their life's woes. By blaming other people they give away control of the situation. It creates this perpetual mental state of negativity and misery. They instigate a continuous cycle of bad luck that they think they have no power over.  

For example - let's look at the mentality of someone who blames them self for an impending foreclosure versus someone who blames everyone else.

First, the person who identifies them self as the problem:
"It's my fault this foreclose happened. I should have put at least 20% down on the home so my payments were lower. I should have had six months of savings in the bank. I should have bought a house I knew I could afford. I'll try to find some temporary work I wouldn't normally do so I can try to pay my mortgage until I can get a job I really want again. However, if they foreclose my house I know what I need to know to keep this from happening again."
Now here is the person that blames everyone else as the problem:
"The bank and the government shouldn't have approved my home loan knowing I may not be able to afford it. It's their fault they didn't require a bigger down payment. Everyone deserves a home. It's in society's best interest to bail me out since they created this mess to begin with."
People that think they're being oppressed, people that feel they're entitled, people that believe in bad luck, they all tend to see the glass as half-empty. The people that view themselves in control of their problems view the glass as half-full. They're able to accept the blame and make constructive criticism against themselves.   

So the next time something bad happens blame yourself first for a change. Ask yourself what you could have done differently to avoid that situation. You'll learn more when you admit you're the problem, not someone else. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Axiom 35: First & Best

"If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in." -The Law of Category from the book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

"If you ain't first, you're last." -Ricky Bobby

Do you know who was the second person to walk on the moon? The team that came in second in last year's Super Bowl? The second person you kissed? Remembering firsts is easy, remembering seconds is a struggle. 

Society tends to remember the first person to do something new and forget the people that follow in that same path. That's why you should try to be the first at something. It doesn't always guarantee success, but it does help your chances a lot.

First, find your USP (Unique Selling Point). This is the thing that makes you number one in a particular category. If you're not sure what your USP is take a little time to do some self-reflection. Everyone has a USP you just have to figure out consciously what yours is. Once you have identified your USP then create a category and market yourself as a first.

Here are some examples defining your USP and becoming #1:

  • John is an independent accountant. There are thousands of accountants in the city John lives in and he struggles to find clients as a general accountant. John also has knowledge of industrial manufacturing and import/export laws. This additional experience is John's USP. John then markets himself as the only industrial manufacturing accountant in his city with an emphasis on import/export accounting.
  • Sherry graduated with a film degree. She always wanted to work in Hollywood but the never got a break. Her father owns a dry-cleaning shop and pays Sherry to shoot a commercial for local TV. Next thing you know another shop in the same shopping center sees the commercial and hires Sherry to do a commercial for them also. Now Sherry is known for being the #1 person in her community for filming local TV spots.
  • Jack starts a local grocery store in his city. Before he knows it a huge big-box grocery store opens nearby and he starts losing business. Jack decides he can't compete on price, but he can compete on service and gourmet products. This is Jack's USP. Soon he is running ads touting, "less crowds, faster checkout, quality high-end products". Pretty soon the wealthier people in town choose Jack's store over the "heard of cattle" approach the other store takes.   
Once you set your self apart from the crowd and become first at something everything becomes easier. Doors open, people remember you, people want to do business with you, and so on.

If you want to read more on this idea and other great ideas pick up a copy of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.