Confessions Of Entrepreneurs & Award-Winning MBAs

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If you are not growing… you're dying!

In life, the only thing that is constant is change. There is no point in trying to avoid it. If you decide to stop growing, if you don’t want to change… everything around you will do so and you will effectively be left out.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all
— Oscar Wilde

Are you living or just existing?

Life is about experiencing everything around us, and those experiences will inevitably lead to growth. If you are reading this it means that you are all about living. As you might already know, at BizLatte, we are all about challenging the status quo.

As the end of the year gets closer, we want to take some time to review and reflect on our 2017 journey. That way we can continue doing what is working, eliminate what is not working, and keep growing together.

Our goal is to build a community of individuals that want to define & achieves success on their own terms. For that reason, we want to explore with you what we’ve learned this year as:

  • Professionals
  • Creators
  • Humans

Think of this as the time you are going to set aside to “sharpen your axe” so that in 2018 you can be ready to cut through any challenges that come your way. As you read this next series of articles, be sure to set some time to review and reflect on your 2017 journey.

This year, Matt and I have been able to change in many ways. I became an award-winning MBA (Matt did so during 2016), an Improv Comedy performer, a paid speaker, a Creative Director, an Influencer, and many other things that we want to share with you. That way, you can copy what works and also learn from our mistakes so that you don’t have to go through those painful experiences.

This year we’ve also had some struggles. After more than two years of waking up before 5:00 am every day energized, I’ve now had stints where I struggled to wake up excited about the day. I’ve put a lot of energy and time for projects that had to be shut down. And for periods I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. Also, I saw how Matt lost most of his possessions, and had to tear most of his house down, due to the flooding during Harvey.

Yet, we are thankful for each of these experiences because we’ve grown!

Let’s dig deep into the experiences that led to growth as professionals so that we can replicate and expand this growth during 2018.

Fear is a Great Teacher

MATT:

As Alejandro mentioned, 2017 was tough for my family. It’s difficult to compartmentalize my professional and personal life because I have my own business, Elisha Consulting, which I run out of my home. Therefore, when Hurricane Harvey destroyed my home, in essence, my business was hit hard.

Beyond that, the year started rough. In 2017, I was fired from a client for the first time. Not only fired but humiliated in the process as it was done publicly with no explanation. I tried to start a side-business to compliment my main business, and it failed . . . miserably. The business didn’t make money, and I lost two good friends in the process. I went through the worst dry spell in terms of sales during the summer. And then Harvey. All I can say is Huck Farvey.

Gutting my house, throwing away my possessions, being displaced for months, and losing tens of thousands of dollars did a lot negatively. Yet, it also did something positive. It humbled me on a spiritual, emotional, physical, and professional level. I won’t get too much into the spiritual side, but let’s just say, my mindset on the universe, and who I believe God to be, completely changed for the better.

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On the professional side, I became vulnerable. I wrote a social media message and designed a graphic (see image). When I hit “post” I didn’t expect much. Then something amazing happened. People started contacting me and asked for work to be done. Better yet, it wasn’t just to give me some money, people legitimately needed marketing work. Sure, my post was the catalyst, yet the work became some of the shining pillars of my portfolio.

Ever since that post, I have been on the best hot streak of my life in regards to sales. Humility goes a long way in your professional life.

Some of the key things I learned were to:

  • Ask for help
  • Take on small jobs as they lead to large jobs
  • Never stop learning
  • Accept projects that help others, i.e. do discounted work to assist people
  • Try new things knowing you will likely fail
  • See yourself as someone who can truly make a dent in the universe

That last bullet point has hit me recently. There is “fake humility,” where you pretend like you are not that good, but it’s actually you just not trying hard because you are afraid of failure. Or maybe afraid of success. It could be either.

Here is what I mean. I have always held a fear that I am not capable of hitting my dreams. When I look at the top performers in the world, I can’t imagine even being close their level.

But why?

They are human just like me. They get tired just like me. They struggle just like me.

I have realized, it is possible to be world class in my profession. It will not happen overnight. There will be years of failure. Yet, it is possible. Now, I spend time trying new marketing, design, and sales techniques that I would have forgone in the past because I didn’t think I could really be that good. Just in a few months, I have seen a dramatic difference in the quality of my work since changing this mindset.

I just sent a PDF of logos that are 10X the quality I have ever done in the past. For one of my clients, I built a landing page, and have been promoting it with someone from the company. We literally saw a 10X jump in website traffic and engagement in one week! I couldn’t believe the numbers when I first saw them. A couple weeks ago, Alejandro and I were paid to speak. As in, people gave us money to talk about networking. I never thought that would happen.

As I look back on the year as a professional, I have learned to stay humble while believing it’s possible to reach my dreams. Maybe you should do the same.

ALEJANDRO:

I’m a now 100% convinced that everything that makes life worth living is waiting for us on the other side of our fears.

Also, overcoming those fears is a process. It requires a change in mindset, getting comfortable with uncomfortable, and taking constant actions so that we have higher chances of “getting lucky”... as in... the more we work the luckier we get.

I have a confession to make related to fear. My latest fear was that after our Networking Boot Camp event someone would get up and yell “Is this what I paid for? I want my money back!”

Keep in mind that this is a workshop that a year ago I presented to Randy Webb, the Executive Director of the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute and former President of Uncle Ben’s Inc., the food division of Mars, Inc., and he asked how much I was charging the school for it. He couldn’t believe when I told him I was giving it for free.

We did the workshop at the MBA Consulting Club, at the SURE Program, at the MBA International Students Orientation, and many other organizations. All for free while each time improving and receiving great feedback.

We then created e-guides, and a workbook for the workshop. At this point, we were ready to take it to the next level. Yet, the fear was still there. With the help of a great friend and the support of The Common Quest podcast, we overcame that fear and did the first ever paid Networking Boot Camp.

The best part is that at the end nobody yelled or complained! The opposite happened.

People were happy due to the value they received and we even got some great video testimonials. An attendee commuted from Austin to attend the event and we also got found thanks to an Instagram repost that I’ll tell you about in a bit. That level of commitment to working on your skills to get to the next level is one of the reasons we do what we do. THANK YOU!

The lessons here:

  • Take on small jobs, or do some work for free, as they will lead to big opportunities (as Matt mentioned)
  • Document that process, track it, and keep improving (practice, practice, practice)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask after you’ve given (people will pay if you are delivering 10X value)

This same process led me to attain another significant win this year.

As you might know, during 2017 I’ve been growing several Instagram accounts and one of them is called @mindfulbusiness. There, I share content to help people build social capital and meaningful professional relationships.

I post about 10 pieces of content per day, respond to all the messages and comments, and dedicate time every week to do market research and hashtag research. Again, all for free and to test things that we can then recommend to our clients.

At some point during the year, I was asking myself if it was worth it. Could I be doing something more valuable with my time? Was the account actually having an impact on other people’s lives?

I was in one of those stints that I mentioned, where waking up motivated was a struggle, and when I needed it the most the universe responded. After more than a year of giving, and planting seeds, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the most important influencers in business reposted one of my posts! To this day, I still don’t know how he noticed. He has several #1 New York Times bestsellers, he’s called the Oprah of Podcasting, and has millions of followers across his social media platforms.

Yet, he noticed. So I must be doing something right.

Tim Ferriss reposted a post I made about his book. That alone meant about 2,000 new followers in one day, and a spike in the algorithm which must have given me “algorithm authority” because with just 34,000 followers we’ve been able to crack the top-9 posts of hashtags such as:

  • #Houston
  • #HoustonMarketing
  • #HoustonBusiness
  • #HoustonEntrepreneurs
  • #GoCoogs
  • #UniversityOfHouston

These are just a few. I always use 30 hashtags per post and am ranking at the top for all. Keep in mind that some of this hashtags have more than 20,000,000 posts! Yet, we are now able to rank in the top 9 (and in some cases, we have all the 9 posts). So yes, I “got lucky” that Tim Ferriss reposted my content… after posting more than 1,700 pieces of content in about 14 months.

The lesson here:

Keep hustling and don’t give up.

“The darkest hour is right before dawn
— Anonymous

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