My Next Big Dream


Would you Rather Be Tim Horton or Ron Joyce?

The hard thing isn’t dreaming big.  The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.  – Ben Horowitz; The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

I have not had an easy life. 

I don’t mean to make it seem like I’ve had a hard life.  I was born into a typical middle-class family and even in my worst moments I’ve never gone hungry.  Yes, I’ve had my gas turned off.  Yes, I’ve received more than my fair share of “final notices”.  I haven’t had a vacation in over 10 years.  I’ve stretched the definition of a “3-month oil change”.  I’ve even visited the odd payday lender.   At the end of the day however, I’ve always had food on the table and a roof over my head.  I’ve never had a major health issue.  And other than these minor annoyances, I really can’t say that I’ve known anything close to extreme hardship. 

But I still haven’t had an easy life.  When you are an entrepreneur there is no such thing as easy. 

Entrepreneurs are by nature dreamers.  The bigger the dream, the deeper the passion, the harder it is to come to terms with difficulty and set backs. 

I say “difficulty and set backs” instead of failure because when you carry a big dream backed up by deep passion, failure only happens when you give up.  I’ve never failed at anything.    I’ve worked through some difficulty, had my fair share of set backs and I’ve even had to completely rethink my plan, but I haven’t yet failed.  As long as I am breathing – I will never fail!

In 2019 I’ve begun to evolve my financial services practice to include a coaching division for individuals and entrepreneurs. 

I love entrepreneurship.  Building your own business from nothing, starting with a bold vision scratched out on a napkin, so to speak, and working to make that vision a reality, is the closest thing many of us will ever come to winning an athletic championship. 

Entrepreneurs have a lot in common with athletes.  We are like prize fighters who step into the ring everyday and go 10 rounds with the world, or marathon runners who pound out mile after mile with no finish line in sight.  The sports analogies are endless.  No two groups of people are more dedicated to their dreams than athletes and entrepreneurs.  Maybe that’s why so many retired athletes end up starting businesses when their playing days are over. 

My coaching arm is focused on helping individuals and entrepreneurs realize their dreams of financial security. I will teach you to develop systems that transform your life from simply working and owning a job that is 100% dependent on your daily grind to owning a business that can run without you.  And then finally owning something that someone else will pay top dollar to purchase. 

Tim Horton owned a single donut shop, Ron Joyce built and then sold an empire.  While Tim Horton created a brand, it was Ron Joyce who turned that brand into a household name, one of the most recognizable in Canada.  My business consulting arm will help you grow from being Tim Horton, to Ron Joyce.     

Check out the new website I’m developing for my consulting business and get in on the ground floor of what I predict could become one of the most successful firms of it’s kind in Canada.  That’s right – I’m thinking like Ron Joyce for my own business too.

See you soon – Lauren

Going the Distance


You decide how much you want to improve by choosing how many roadblocks to remove so economy improves past a certain threshold – one where you’re suddenly performing your best at any age.  – Philip Maffetone; The Endurance Handbook

While training for a triathlon I came across the above quote.  Philip Maffetone is a world-renowned medical Dr. and trainer of high-performing endurance athletes.  His patients include Olympic and World champions across several endurance sports including, marathon, ultra-marathon, Ironman and the Eco-Challenge adventure races. 

Much of what Dr. Maffetone teaches centers around the importance of nutrition, rest and long-slow endurance training that builds up muscular resilience and trains your body to use its natural fat content for fuel over long distances.  When he talks about removing roadblocks he is mostly talking about changes to behaviour and mindset that allow his patients to think differently about themselves and the training process in order to go to the next level. 

Life, especially the life of an entrepreneur, is an endurance sport. 

The more I get involved in the triathlon world the more I recognize the similarities between disciplines involved in endurance training and those involved in business and entrepreneurship.  Here are just a few that I have observed so far.

  1. Nutrition

Eating right reaps benefits across a broad range of activities.  Carbs and simple sugars are responsible for most weight gain and general fatigue.  The easiest way to lose those love handles and increase your energy is to cut out the carbs.  Foods heavy in wheat and potatoes like bread, and chips are the most obvious culprits but don’t forget pastas and cereals too.  Just stopping the late-night bag of potato chips for me was worth at least five pounds.  I’ve since virtually eliminated breads and most potato products from my diet and I’ve never felt better, both physically and mentally.

       2. Sleep

A close second to eating right is getting enough sleep.  Your body needs time to recover and repair itself after a long day and hard training.  Nothing provides that time better than a good night’s sleep.  Your brain needs it too.  Falling into a rem state allows your brain to sort through all the sensory data it received throughout the day and never had time to process.  Chronic fatigue leads to mental stresses and physical aliments with some studies even linking a lack of sleep to heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  Consistently getting eight hours of sleep during the week might not be practical in our hyper connected and high-octane world but a modest goal should be at least 6.5 – 7 hours from Sunday to Thursday with time to catch a few extra hours on Friday and Saturday nights.  I even like to go for a catnap of 20 minutes or so on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, for me there is nothing better than the feeling I get from catching a few extra zees when I come home from church on a Sunday afternoon. 

        3. Take it slow

Endurance training isn’t about knocking out your personal best every day.  Incremental improvements come by consistently working toward a better time, but you are also training your body physically and mentally to handle the demands of the event.  That means slowing down enough to listen to your body and allow your brain to communicate with your muscles.  Once they know how to talk to each other, then you can push for a better time but that only comes after you’ve developed a solid understanding of what your body needs. 

The same is true in business.    You’re not going to sign the big deal every day.  Especially in a planning-based business like mine, you need to be comfortable and confident enough in your process to take it slow and let the client’s needs and understanding evolve over time.  Slow and incremental development leads to a plan that the client both understands and takes strong ownership in.  Without that ownership your client could move with the whims of the market.  The more your client takes ownership in the process, the less likely they are to leave you when times get tough.

        4. Go Far

Endurance racing is all about the distance covered.  Tell just about anyone that you ran a marathon and they won’t care about your time so much as they will be impressed that you finished at all.  People who have never stuck with something that is hard long enough to see it through will usually look at you with a combination envy and adoration. 

In business, going the distance means setting a lofty goal and then working tirelessly to achieve it, sometimes for years.  When talk about the fact I was involved in 3 Juno award winning projects (Canada’s Grammys) during my days in the music business people are impressed.  But nobody cares about the 12 years of late nights in the studio, smoke fills bars, hundreds of thousands of miles on the road, long days working the phones and endless rejection that preceded that first win.  Or the second win.  Or the third win.  They only care that I was part of something amazing. 

If it takes you 5, 10 or even 20 years to achieve your goal, so be it.  Hard things take time, but they’re worth it.

        5. Repeat

In just about any endeavor, once you know what to do to achieve success, all you need to do is break it down into a repeatable process and just keep doing the same things over again.  The first Juno took 12 years, we won the second one four years later, and the third just two years after that.  It didn’t get any easier, we had just learned the process of recording, manufacturing, promotion and sales that would lead to success and were able to repeat the steps without wasting time on things that didn’t work. The same is true of everything worth doing, learn the process, cut out the redundancies, and repeat what works.

I am sure there are more parallels that I could draw between endurance training and business.  Life is journey, not a destination.  The journey is long.  Eat right, get enough rest, take your time, go the distance and repeat the process and you will find success.  That’s a promise.

 

VLOG: Episode 6, The Heart of An Entrepreneur


Driving in to the office the other day I started thinking about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how much mad respect I have for entrepreneurs and what they do.  Here’s the video I recorded about it.

Once again sorry about the audio, I need to both speak up and get a better microphone  I think.  And for some reason I thought sitting in front of a window on a sunny day would be a good idea, won’t make that mistake again, I promise.

I’ll get these technical issues figured about eventually, bear with me okay…  For now enjoy the video.

You’re doing it wrong!


Living Life and Growing Your Business on Your Terms

Have you ever received unsolicited advice?

You know the kind I’m talking about. One of your “friends” takes it upon themselves to tell you how you’re screwing up your life. And if you would just make one or two “minor” changes you would be so much better off.

This advice is usually sincere. Your friends are probably genuinely worried about you. When they look at your life they likely see the struggles you go through, how hard you work for seemingly little return, the heartache, the sleepless nights, you name it. Your friends see all the stress and they are genuinely worried about you.

If you’d just give up on your dream and take a job with a steady paycheque. Or maybe just slow it down a bit and relegate your business aspirations to weekends and evenings, maybe you’d be better off. You’d have more money, less stress and live longer.

Or so they think.

But make no mistake it’s never really about you.

It’s about how they feel when they are around you. Maybe they feel sorry for you – but that’s not about you, it’s about them. Maybe they feel guilty for their own success in the face of your seeming failure – but that’s not about you either, it’s still all about them. And maybe they feel envy and jealousy because they see the huge potential for your success and wish they had what it takes to be an entrepreneur. But you guessed it, that’s not about you either.

The fact is, no one can give you advice on what you need to do to be successful. Sure there are some general principles but they are ultimately the same whether you work for a boss or not. At the end of the day nobody knows better than you what it will take for you to be successful. Nobody knows your business better than you. Nobody works harder than you. Nobody cares more than you.

So stop listening to everyone else. That’s what you’re doing wrong.

Entrepreneurship is lonely. And for the most part the pay sucks. Work your ass off for 5, maybe 10 years or even more and maybe, just maybe you’ll become so successful you’ll forget about the years of struggle that led up it.

Maybe not.

You have to be prepared to live like no one else, so that later you can live like no one else.

That’s my best unsolicited advice.  Take it or leave it.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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Persistence


Persistence isn’t very glamorous. If genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, then as a culture we tend to lionize the one percent. We love its flash and dazzle. But great power lies in the other ninety-nine percent. – Susan Cain; Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

If there is one thing an Entrepreneur needs its persistence.

People use different ways to describe the quality of persistence. They call it heart, drive or gumption but what they really mean is persistence.

The history of the world is full or stories of persistence, people who had a big idea or a big vision and worked at it, day and night until they became an “overnight” success. But we all know there is no such thing as an overnight success, unless by overnight you mean people who work while the rest of the world sleeps.  Entrepreneurs, ministry leaders and just everyday folks who want to be successful in their endeavors know that persistence is the key to success.

goldminer2

 

Three Feet From Gold

There is a piece of American history that has often come to mind for me whenever I think about persistence. It’s one of those stories that is hard to verify but as a result has taken on the qualities of folklore.

Apparently there was a man who went into the mountains in search of gold. He found a small vein a decided that he would need a lot more help in the form of capital investment in order to make his mine profitable so he covered up the vein and went back to the city to raise the needed money. When he returned, deeply in debt, and started digging it turned out the vein was not nearly as profitable as he had originally hoped. He was eventually forced to sell his claim and all of his equipment to satisfy his debts. Years later the new owner of the mine began digging in the same spot and just three feet from where the original owner quit, hit a mother-load of gold worth millions.

People have used this story to explain and further a variety of agendas. I most often hear it as an inspirational tale of persistence but it can also be given as a cautionary tale about the toll of too much debt. Had the original owner built out his business more slowly he could have purchased equipment with cash and not have had to worry so much about making payments on the debt before the vein paid off. But at the end of the day the idea remains the same.

Persistence pays.

I tend to write with a double emphasis on entrepreneurship and Christ-following. The story of the miner who quit just three feet from gold has applications and implications in both worlds. The call of the entrepreneur and the Christ-follower are similar in that both have a vision for the “now and the not yet”. Persistence is required in both cases to see the vision come to fruition. So the next time you are tempted to loss heart, remember the story of the miner who was three feet from gold.

Pray and dig a little deeper. The reward could be great.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:14]

Work of Art


So my annual Christmas vacation is coming to an end.

Every year I tend to loosely follow the School year calendar when it comes to Christmas vacation. We’ve been programmed to do this since childhood and unless you work in retail it’s really a great time to slow down, spend time with family and get a few things done around the house. This year, because my wife is working in the school system I decided to follow it exactly, I left my office on Friday December 19 not to return until this coming Monday.  It’s the first full two week vacation I’ve taken in about 8 years!

But I’m an entrepreneur at heart. So regardless of whether or not I’m physically in the office, my work is never very far from my mind. Over the break I have continued to maintain my social media presence, as evidenced by this blog post, did a slight redesign of this web site, (ain’t it pretty?) and read 3 and half books.

I left the office two Friday’s ago with an empty inbox and a clean desk but I will return with a to-do list the length of my arm and a renewed sense of purpose and vigor that I haven’t felt in years! In short, I can’t wait to get back to work!

Why?

Because I’m an artist and the work I do is the canvas I paint on.

is it art

One of the books I read over the break was “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber. For lack of a better term, Gerber is a business coach, his organization, E-Myth Worldwide, is dedicated to helping small business owners develop businesses that work even when they don’t want to.

The E-Myth, according to Gerber is that small business owners are entrepreneurs with big visions about what I means to run their own show when in fact most are merely technicians who got sick of working for someone else and figure that because they can do the work they could run their own shop.

But running your own shop requires a skill set that most technicians don’t have, it requires the ability to step outside of yourself and view the business as an entity in and of itself. Running your own shop is more about developing and over seeing a system and a set of tasks than it is about doing those tasks. Once you reduce your business to a system that anybody can run you are free to step away and work on other things, expand into to new markets and new product lines or retire while the business continues to churn away and make you a whole bunch of money.

If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business – you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic! – Michael E. Gerber; The E-Myth Revisited

As I read through this book I started to notice that I’ve been doing this kind of thing all my life. I have always been a systems oriented kind of guy. Just about every task I have in my business has been reduced to a set of check lists in my mind.  Here is what the first hour or so of my day generally looks like;

  • Read Social Media Feeds – Check

  • Write blog post – Check

  • Get Dressed – Check

  • Go to Office – Check

  • Listen to Voicemail, Read E-Mail, Review Calendar for the day – Check

And that little list only takes me to about 9:15 am on most days. To get me through the rest of the day I’ve written a series of daily tasks down on a set of yellow post-it notes that are stuck on the edge of my desk.  When in doubt, I return to the list.

I’m a systems guy because I’ve found that if I don’t follow a system I tend to get bogged down in the mundane busy work that is required of me and I never get a chance to develop or produce anything of lasting value.

The most menial work can be a piece of art when done by an artist. So the job here is not outside of ourselves, but inside of ourselves. How we do our work becomes a mirror of how we are inside. – Michael E. Gerber; The E-Myth Revisited

I love my systems. They keep me focused and they allow my creative mind to wander. I’ve even built time into my system to experiment with the things my creative mind comes up with while I’m physically going through the list of tasks that the system dictates. One day, when the business has grown large enough to support more staff I’ll be able hand off a portion of the system to someone else with little or no training because the system itself is what drives the business not me.  This will then free me up to develop more systems and do even more interesting and creative things.

I can hardly wait. Running a business is like creating a work of art. Like all art forms the value and the beauty is in the appreciation it receives from others. If people appreciate the business I have built it will be profitable and it will also be copy able, I’ll be able to do it over and over again, because of the system.

Is your business a work of art?

For more information on The Meekonomics Project and the art we help create for our clients write to themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

Banishing the Spirit of Eeyore


I used to think Eeyore was funny. Now I just think he’s sad and should be on Prozac.

eeyoretigger

Ever since I started out in business my favorite character in the Winnie-the-pooh stories has been Tigger. Why? Because Tiggers are confident, “that’s what Tiggers to best!”

I self-identify very strongly as an entrepreneur. That means among other things that I’m a self-starter, self-motivated and generally optimistic person. I don’t expect a hand-out, or a hand-up.  I eat what I kill and kill what I eat. I work hard and I play hard and to be honest some days I have trouble telling the difference.

If there is one thing I cannot stand to be around it is negativity. When I am about to embark on a task, whether it is meeting with a dream client, developing a seminar or writing a book, I first must banish all negativity from my life. In short I channel Tigger and dive in.  In the process I end up banishing Eeyore.

When I was first starting out in business I volunteered as a sound designer on a community theater production of the play “Lend Me a Tenor”. That experience was a bit of mixed bag. The director was crazy, I mean certifiably insane but I had the opportunity to work with some great people and I learned a lot. One line from the play has stuck with me to this day. At one point fictional opera star Tito Mirelli turns to his young fan Max and says,

“When you sing, you got to have the confidence. You got to say ‘I’m Max, I’m a da best, I Sing Good!’”

Some people say that entrepreneurs tend to be arrogant and over confident, even a bit delusional. That may be. Tigger does tend to get himself into trouble when he’s not careful but he sure has a lot of fun and most importantly he learns from his mistakes. Eeyore never learns anything. He never takes any chances and he never grows. Eeyore is nothing but doom and gloom from start to finish.

Of course there are other characters in these stories too. Winnie, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga & Roo, Owl and of course Christopher Robin and each has their own psychological profile.  The point here is not to go into a long and drawn out examination of arch types or the “Tao of Pooh”, as one pop psychology book of the 1980s attempted. The point is that the spirit of Eeyore has no place in business. You need to find the Eeyore’s in your life and either get them some help or get them out. Otherwise they will kill your entrepreneurial spirit and bring the whole organization down.

What Winnie-the-Pooh character do you most identify with?

Can you identify the Eeyore’s in your life?

How do you keep them from bringing you down?