Monthly Archives: August 2013

7 tips to keep motivated in business and in life

Rafting the Saint Laurent River. Montreal.
Taking a break is a great motivator

As a tango dancer and teacher, I have never needed external motivation to go and dance/practice tango. It’s as natural for me as having to eat every day. However, there are other areas in my life in which I need motivation to accomplish my goals. I imagine that it’s the same for you. You have an internal drive to do some activities while others require much discipline.

Life is a journey, not a destination

Many of us set specific goals,but we should keep in mind that the journey is as important as the goal. Let’s say that my goal is to make a million dollars five years from now, and I have two ways of doing it: cleaning toilets or dancing tango. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to earn my money dancing tango. This preference is so strong that even if I don’t get the million dollars I would be a happier person. Whether or not I reach the goal of making the million dollars becomes almost irrelevant. In everything that you do, make sure that the journey is as enticing as the goal.

Establish a routine

I want to learn how to write in an engaging manner. I would love it if one day people find my writing either interesting or educational. To accomplish that goal, I have established the routine of writing for one hour every morning. Most of my writing is crap. I believe that it will take me years to develop the skill of writing something truly engaging, but every day that I write, I get closer to that goal. I have overcome the fear of failure because failure is my starting point. From here on, one hour at a time, every morning, I am creating that engaging writer that will have a following of avid readers.

Whatever your goal is, make some time for it. Preferably the same time every day. Make it so that it’s part of your routine, as natural as brushing your teeth. Make it a secret part of your life. As you establish your routine you will find it easier to achieve your goal.

Post quotes around your space

My daughter Andrea is a fitness fanatic; she wants to participate in a fitness competition this October. To keep her motivation high she has printed motivational quotes all around her. She also posts them regularly in her Facebook wall. I am sure that those quotes help her in times of doubt. Quotes are powerful; place a few of them around you and they will help you in times of weakness.

The power of reading

I have a friend who has been trying to quit pot smoking. Recently he has been successful after reading a book on the subject. (No Need for Weed: Understanding and Breaking Cannabis Dependency). This book has been pivotal for him. I believe that books can be a great force for self-improvement and they can offer you a shortcut to success. In a few hours you can consume the material that an expert has put together after many years of experience. With the new Kindle devices, you have access to millions of books in seconds.

Many entrepreneurs have changed their lives after reading the The 4-Hour Work week by Tim Ferris. Whatever you desire, I’m sure that there is a book out there that can help you.

Use technology

My biggest motivator is podcast. I listen to about four 30 minutes podcasts per day (my latest favorite is The Good Life Project). I listen to them while walking, cleaning my place or going to the gym. They keep me connected to the people who keep me well-informed about business and mindset. I also use YouTube almost daily to find inspiration for my tango dancing. Many of my friends find inspirations watching TED talks. I’m sure that there’s a technology tool that can help you sustain your motivation.

Find an accountability partner

If you are accountable only to yourself, then it could be very easy to push your goals to the side, but if you find a person to whom you become accountable, then you are also responsible to someone else. When I was married, I was more determined to succeed in life in general than I am now that I am single. I felt that I was accountable not only to me, but to my partner as well.

Accountability partners are great when you are trying to break a habit or to instill a habit that you’d like to have. For example, you can commit to someone that you will work out 5 times this week or you will pay for dinner this weekend. The ideal accountability partner will not be someone passive. Preferably, it will be someone who would hold you to your word and who would demand for the results that you promised.

Take a break

Sometimes the best motivator is just to take a break. If you’ve been working hard for many hours, just close your laptop and go out for a walk. If you’ve been working for weeks on a project, take a few days off. Most of the time, after taking a break from your work, you come back revitalized ready to tackle the world.

What motivates you?

I would love it if you share in the comment section, motivation hacks that keeps you going.

4 Steps To Make Your Vision A Reality

We all want to be something when we grow up. I find  the hardest step is to figure out what it is that we want to be. Sometimes we get confused with society’s expectation versus what we really want for ourselves and our true calling in life. Sometimes we are born knowing already where we want to go, and sometimes we spend a whole life without ever finding out what our real purpose in this world is.

Assuming that you decided on your path, how do you get to where you want to go?

1. Reverse engineer

Make a list of 5 people who achieved the goals that you desire, do the research and find out how they got there. Here you might be able to find shortcuts and figure out the fastest way to get to your goal.

Tim Ferris, in his book The 4-Hour Chef, writes about “Meta-Learning” and he claims that “It is  possible to become world-class in just about anything in six months or less.” Josh Kaufman in his book “The First 20 Hours” claims that in 20 hours you can get a basic understanding of anything that interest you. As a Tango teacher for TangoTime.ca, I can attest that with 20 hours of tango a new student can learn enough to go to a milonga and have a good time. However, to become a true master in anything, Robert Greene, the author of “Mastery” claims that it takes about 10,000 hours of apprenticeship in that subject. Here is a video of me dancing tango after more that 5,000 hours of practice.

2. Create a path

Once you know where you want to go, create a path. Think of Google maps. There are many ways to get to the same destination. What you want is to drop all the unnecessary steps. Here are two examples:

a. Many of the famous tango dancers took ballet classes or jazz classes before they discovered tango. It turns out that those 5 years of ballet were helpful but not essential.

b. Formal education. It blows me away how, in a typical school system, people take classes that are a complete waste of time, energy and money. I know students of philosophy who have tortured themselves studying statistics and algebra formulas that they are never going to use. As much as you can, avoid formal education. If you know where you want to go, go for it!

3. Build relationships

In today’s world, there is no reason for you not to be connected to the people that motivate you. If you are a business person, there are tons of meet-ups about business in almost any city of North America. But if distance is a problem, then you’ve got the Internet and all its magic. You can get connected to Sir Richard Branson just by clicking here.  I am into Internet marketing and blogging and all it take are a few clicks for me to be connected to the people who I want to learn from. I follow leaders such as Tim Conley from Foolish Adventure and Dan & Ian from The tropical MBA. I am also into Tango and I am connected via Facebook with all the best tango dancers of the world. You too, you can search for those leaders in your field, follow them and communicate with them. It will make you feel closer to your goal, like you are part of something bigger than you.

4. Create a platform

There must be about 50 tango teachers in Montreal. A few of them better than me, but only about 10 of us have a platform. When a new student is looking for a tango teacher, they will be more likely to find those who have a platform than those that don’t have a presence in the Internet.

Whatever your topic is, build a platform. Make sure that you have something out there. Please, don’t get caught up on the idea that it has to be perfect (I still don’t know what to do with my platform). You will improve as time goes on. Many experts showcase their crappy websites as an example that they too, didn’t know how to showcase themselves and that a humble start is better than no start at all.

On my way to mastery of Tango. Here is my dance after about 5,000 hours of practice. 5,000 more and I will be a master. 🙂

Book Review. The E-Myth Revisited By Michael E. Gerber

The E-myth book review

The E-Myth Revisited:The book is written in the form of a dialogue between the owner of a bakery and a business consultant. The bakery owner, Sarah, finds herself trapped in a business that no longer inspires her. The business doesn’t inspire her because she’s stuck doing all the things she doesn’t like about her business and she has no time nor energy to enjoy those things that initially prompted her to open a business.

This same scenario happened to me and my dance school and it has happened to millions of other entrepreneurs.

Mr. Gerber breaks down the personality of each entrepreneur into three elements:

  1. The technician, the expert of his craft, the dancer, the plumber, the electrician.

  2. the manager, the person who is good at the tedious administration of a business, and

  3. the entrepreneur, the person who sees the future, who starts new projects only to abandon them when the next new thing catches his imagination.

Most businesses fail because they are run by the technician. The technician is great at getting the job done, but is not a great manager and he was an entrepreneur only the day in which he created the business.

If I had to summarize Mr. Gerber’s book in one sentence, I would say:

Work on your business, not in your business.”

Mr. Gerber’s advice is to create a business as if creating a franchise, with systems and processes so that the business does not require the presence of the owner to succeed. You work on your business when you create all the processes that will teach someone else so that you can step out.

business card, TangoTime.caIn my business Dance Conmigo, my partner and I were always working in our business. To step out and let someone else take our place was unthinkable; After 8 years of hard work we felt burned out. Now we are starting from again from zero, taking Mr. Gerber’s advice we went to our Bluehost account created a new business (TangoTime.ca) that would allow us to step out of the business and watch it grow.

Are you working on your business or are you working in your business? Do you have the ability to step out from the day-to-day operation of your business? Think for a moment of Richard Branson, the creator of the Virgin brand. Mr Branson does not work on the day-to-day operation of any of his businesses, he works on expanding the vision of his brand by implementing the same processes in future businesses that have worked so well in all his businesses.

The first step to creating a franchise it to create a “Model” that can be replicated. As an example, Mr. Gerber uses McDonalds. When a new employee starts working at McDonalds, the employee can find operational manuals on everything ranging from how long to cook the fries to how to balance the cash at the end of the day. He claims that we should emulate McDonalds in the way that they create systems for everything.

Once a model has been created, it is up to the entrepreneur to measure the results and engage in the constant improvement of the business.

The book had a nice conversational flow. It was easy to read and to understand. I found it of great value and would recommend it to any entrepreneur, but specifically for those who might find themselves to be prisoners of their business.