Twelve Ways To Power

Networking is the contact sport of the millennium.

If change is inevitable and growth is optional, I wish someone had told me that in school before I embarked on Real Life 101. I did not go to an institute of higher learning filled with entrepreneurial studies, nor was I born with a silver spoon in my mouth nor an MBA in my briefcase. I achieved my nine successful entrepreneurial careers through something they never taught me in school: “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

At 29, my life was marred with a great tragedy, a defining moment in my life. At the time, I was a high-school gym teacher and former professional dancer. With the love and support of others, I developed two of my earliest careers and learned some valuable lessons:  Build on your interests, talents and abilities. Do what you love, and success and money will follow.

One: Develop a Positive Attitude. “The greatest discovery in our generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” Develop an optimistic outlook on life through self-affirmations and visualization techniques. Live in the moment and stop fretting about a past you cannot change or a future in which you have no control. Look at every difficulty as an opportunity, seize the moment, and be thankful for every minute of “nowness.” Happiness is an inside job. Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker, said, “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.”

Two: Take Action. Winners make things happen, and losers find that the greatest labor-saving device ever invented is “tomorrow.” Develop an action-oriented mentality, and you’ll always be one step ahead of the crowd.

Three: Look for the Benefit. Like the age-old story of the little boy who walked into a room filled with manure and exclaimed, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!” learn to look far below the surface by turning obstacles into challenges. The quest for excellence is a life-long process and begins by finding a benefit in the most challenging of situations.

Four: Admit your Mistakes. By admitting your mistakes, you raise your level of integrity and other people’s perception of your honesty. You become real, human, vulnerable; and magically, others relate to you more and open the channels of communication through a certain comfortability factor. There may be cultural, ethnic and geographic differences in people, but the common thread is the human element.

Five: Turn your Weaknesses into Strengths. Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as President of the United States from a wheelchair. Beethoven composed his greatest symphony when he was deaf. Take an honest look at your weaknesses. Give yourself a mental workout and develop your mental muscles by analyzing your weaknesses and maximizing them into strengths.

Six: Your Network Is Important to your Net-Worth. Networking is the contact sport of the millennium. Learn how to work a room. Meet as many people as you can. Network on trains, planes, stores, hotels, schools, work; there are networking opportunities everywhere. Networking takes tenacity. Your efforts of today are the payoffs of tomorrow.

Seven: Get Self-ish. Develop your self-esteem, self-discipline, self-control. Each little accomplishment adds to your own self-worth. They become stepping stones to build upon. Take time for yourself by believing that you deserve it.

Eight: Toot your Own Horn. Create a catchy title for your business. Some of mine included: “The Happy Cooker,” a gourmet catering service; “Sea-ducktive Adventures,” a cruise-placement agency. Always carry a camera with you and be prepared to “take action.” Ask for a photo of you and a celebrity, then “look for the benefit” and send the press release to your local paper, creating a promotional tool for you and your business.

Nine: Risk = Reward. There are no accidents. You create your own reality. On my former TV show, “Spotlight on Entrepreneurs,” all the people I interviewed shared that common bond—they take risks. I’m not advocating impulsive behavior; I’m suggesting premeditated risks, approved of by your gut, your instincts, your intuition—an entrepreneur’s best friend. Treat life as an adventure, and go for it!

Ten: Become a Goal-Getter, Not Just a Goal-Setter. When I sold my last business, I didn’t know what was going to be my next career. I had my objectives on one list; the other listed past careers, skills, talents and hobbies. I kept studying the lists, comparing them until I got an “Aha!” Then I began the necessary steps to achieve it by going back to school and joining the trade association. As a full-time professional speaker, I fulfilled all my objectives. I wanted to travel, interact with people and impact lives, be involved in a glamorous career, and did not want a financial glass ceiling. It took three tries: First, the hospitality industry – not quite right. Then, the meeting-planning industry – close, but no cigar. Aha, the speaking industry! Write down your goals. If they’re not written down, they’re not goals, they’re just dreams. Goals are dreams with deadlines.

Eleven: Develop your Entrepreneurial Quotient. Research of successful entrepreneurs reveals similar characteristics:  motivations, personality traits, family backgrounds, childhood experiences, behavioral patterns, values and beliefs. Study the successful entrepreneurs by reading about them, networking with them, choosing them for role models and mentors. Create your own destiny.

Twelve: Cultivate your Creativity. The year I was asked to present for my professional organization, the National Speaker’s Association. I took a risk and presented a topic no one had ever done, and I chose a title that I was told would not work. I taught them how to develop their creative instincts by looking at everyday objects to impact a point in their presentations. I introduced the “fun-damentals.” Entrepreneurs need to continually create; that’s what makes us special. Why are all these concepts so important? Why are they the success skills of the entrepreneur? I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address for Inc. Magazine/Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” banquet and was also a judge. During that process, I affirmed that only half their success can be attributed to business plans, marketing plans and bottom lines. The other significant half is the personal-growth concepts, the true life-blood of the successful entrepreneur.

The Power IS within you!

Mikki Williams Meet the Author
Mikki Williams, CSP, is an inspirational humorist and business motivator who started nine businesses. She is the founder of Mikki Williams Unltd. at www.mikkiwilliams.com.