How I Got a Deal on Shark Tank

Mitch Allen appears on ABC’s Shark Tank.

About 40,000 people apply each season; 100 actually make it on air. EO member Mitch Allen is one of them!

Mitch Allen, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) member in Fort Worth, is founder and Head Elf of Hire Santa, a service that brings the season to life with thousands of professionally trained Santas worldwide. On December 2, 2018, Mitch pitched the company on ABC’s Shark Tank.

Mitch shared with us the story of this once-in-a-lifetime journey—including how his experiences as an EO member proved invaluable.

As an entrepreneur, I’m drawn to the concept of Shark Tank. There’s the all-important pitch, creative sets, unexpected reactions by five seasoned investors and the possibility of scaling growth fast with a cash infusion and industry connections. It’s like the Super Bowl for entrepreneurs!

I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life–from buying baseball cards, comic books and antique Coke machines when I was young to flipping rental houses in grad school. I currently own several businesses, primarily in the legal and Internet marketing space.

How Hire Santa Started

My latest company, Hire Santa, started at an employee Christmas party in 2008 where I handed out bonuses dressed as Santa Claus. It was such a blast that I did it again in 2009. That year, a family friend asked me to appear for their child as Santa, and it changed everything. Being Santa to children is an unforgettable experience.

One thing led to another and people started to pay me to appear as Santa Claus. I got into it, appearing more frequently, charging more money―and then I ran out of supply. There wasn’t enough of me to do every event, so I started hiring other Santas.

I bought the domain name, created a website and quickly grew the business. It started as a hobby, but by 2014, with the support of my EO Fort Worth “Tamarindo” Forum, it became a real business.

At first, I was reluctant to talk about it, worried some might think it was silly. But it’s just the opposite—it’s an amazing company. We bring love, joy and the Christmas spirit to hundreds of thousands of people each year. I’ve never had a business that brings a smile to people everywhere the way that Hire Santa does.

My Journey to the Tank Begins

In January 2018, inspired by an episode of Shark Tank, I checked the show’s audition schedule and saw an open call one week later in Dallas—just a 40-minute drive away from me.

I went all in. I downloaded the application, crafted my one-minute pitch and waited in line all day at the Dallas Convention Center with 500 other hopeful entrepreneurs. Some had profitable businesses, others had a dream but hadn’t earned a penny. It was fascinating.

When called, I delivered my pitch to one of the six casting associates and thought I connected with him. The fact that I had revenue, a fun service and an interesting story played in my favor. Throughout the process, we were told not to expect a callback, so I was excited when they called less than a week later and sent more paperwork, contracts and extensive nondisclosure agreements.

The next step was to create a 10-minute audition video. So, I called 10 of my local Santas, found a Mrs. Claus, and filmed a video that I was pleased with.

They thanked me, but once again emphasized that most people wouldn’t get a callback.

Shortly thereafter, Hire Santa scored a huge contract with Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. While I was focusing on that win, the Shark Tank producers called to say that I was moving on to the next round, and would need to put together a real pitch. More contracts arrived, and I was assigned a team of two producers whom I met with every week on conference calls to hone my pitch and get my financial documents in order.

What can you learn from the man who Barbara Corcoran called a “great negotiator”? Mitch Allen offers tips for any entrepreneur who hopes to make it to the Tank in his EO on Inc. article. 

Perfecting My Pitch

This is the part of the Shark Tank process where EO proved invaluable. My Forum and fellow EO members were incredibly helpful and encouraging:

  • Steve Craig, former chapter president of EO Fort Worth, suggested that I use his daughters, Lauren and Ashley Kate, as interns. They analyzed episodes, helped me form and answer possible questions about my business, reached out to former participants, ordered everything for my set, and fact-checked my pitch. Their efforts were extremely helpful.
  • EO Fort Worth was amazingly supportive. They set up mock Shark Tank presentations to challenge my composure and negotiating skills with difficult questions and scenarios.
  • Two Tamarindo Forum members—Jeremy Brandt and John Cornelsen, both former chapter presidents who have served in global EO positions—flew to Los Angeles at their expense to appear on set with me as snowman and Rudolph mascots. This level of support was extraordinary, and I couldn’t have done it without their help.
  • When I landed in Los Angeles to film in September, EO LA organized a fourth mock presentation as my final run-through. Nick Lange donated space and provided a delicious spread to welcome me. The overwhelming encouragement and support not only gave me practice, it also built my confidence.

I can’t thank Nick, EO LA, EO Fort Worth and, of course, my EO Tamarindo Forum enough for supporting me before, during and after filming.

A Week in Los Angeles

My week in Los Angeles was a blur. I arrived on Monday, 10 September 2018 for the Friday filming. The show puts all of its entrepreneurs in the same hotel, so it was interesting to watch others prepare. I was surprised to learn that everyone who appears on the show is responsible for providing their own set and props―there’s no allowance or stipend.

I feel fortunate that I was likely over-prepared, which kept me calm throughout the week.

My 45 Minutes in the Tank

Mitch Allen appears in the Shark Tank.

On Friday, we went to the studio to film. As I walked down the hall toward the Sharks, I could hardly believe it was happening. When you arrive in front of the Sharks, you’re asked to stand in silence for up to a minute while they set the cameras. If I hadn’t learned this from a former participant, it would have been quite intimidating.

I started my pitch, and everything went smoothly. My ask was a US$200,000 investment for 10 percent of the company. The sharks seemed to enjoy the spectacle of 20 Santas rushing in, bringing each shark a Santa hat to wear.

I was alarmed when four of the five sharks went out fairly early in the 45-minute filming process.

All sleighs led back to Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary—the only shark left. He made an awful offer: US$200,000 for 50 percent of my company. I had practiced such scenarios and was grateful for the Victoria Medvec negotiation learning events I’d attended as a member of EO.

It was intense. All of the practice, research and deal scenarios I prepared in advance paid off. Even so, I was less than 30 seconds from walking out without a deal. I had many different strategies, but was not sure how it was going to work out.

I tried to control the room. I didn’t want to be intimidated or overwhelmed. We went back and forth, but couldn’t agree on valuation. (Much of our negotiation was edited out of the segment that aired.) Finally, I countered with a different structure, offering to repay his investment by sharing half the profits up to his US$200,000 investment, and then a 10 percent partnership.

That got Daymond John’s attention. He re-entered the negotiations. So then, I had two Sharks on the line. In the midst of pitting them against each together to improve my deal, Barbara Corcoran interjected, “I’ll do that deal at 10 percent, but you have to decide right now.”

I was thrilled! Barbara is known for giving strong support to the companies she invests in, so she was one of my top partner picks.

I smiled my biggest elfin smile: “Barbara, on behalf of Santa and all the elves at the North Pole, Hire Santa would love to do a deal with you!”

The Big Reveal

I filmed on 14 September 2018, and the episode aired on 2 December 2018. We kept a hefty secret for two-and-a-half months!

The night the episode aired, EO Fort Worth rented a movie theater and we held an epic MyEO event—140 friends and colleagues watched the episode together. My 45-minutes with the Sharks was edited to a nine-minute segment but I got to see moments I didn’t remember, such as Barbara hugging me and saying: “You’re a great negotiator!” What a pleasant surprise.

“When Mitch walked onto the Shark Tank set, he was wildly enthusiastic about his business. All the Santa Clauses that came with him were so jolly and well mannered, someone you would want to invite into your home to make your kids happy. On top of that, Mitch had a great business sense as to why his business was working well and what he had to do to make it even better.” – Shark Barbara Corcoran

Since the episode aired, I’ve been amazed by the massive outpouring of support and good wishes. My wife, Mysti, and I have received hundreds of calls, texts and emails. It’s a humbling experience, and I’m so grateful for every aspect of it.

Speaking of my wife: Every entrepreneur knows how hard it can be on our spouses; we ask so much of them because we’re “on” all the time. Mysti always goes the extra mile. In addition to watching and analyzing every episode with me, she has always kept our entire household running, which enables me to follow my dreams. She didn’t even complain that we were apart on our 20th wedding anniversary, which was the Wednesday I was in L.A. for filming while she stayed in Texas to take care of our children. She deserves a ton of credit for any success I have.

Post Tank

In the days since the episode aired, I’ve received hundreds of emails from people who want to hire Santa. We’re totally booked for 2018, but look forward to the exciting options Barbara’s investment will provide as we work to implement a new scheduling and calendaring process to organize hundreds of gigs in dozens of locations in one management platform.

Estimates put the publicity value from a Shark Tank appearance as equivalent to US$1 million in public relations. Our company couldn’t possibly get that much publicity any other way. From the number of emails I’ve received in the days since the episode aired, I can attest to the power of that exposure, which will help us for years to come.

Mitch Allen and his family at the EO Fort Worth watch event.

The Power of Experience Share

One reason I was able to succeed on the show is due to the power of experience share that EO models. By reaching out to people who’d appeared on the show, I gained valuable insights and strategies. I might not have understood the value in shared experiences if I weren’t immersed in Gestalt learning via my EO Forum, the Entrepreneurial Masters Program, and other one-of-a-kind EO learning opportunities.

Hearing what somebody else has gone through and how they navigated the challenges and unexpected twists life and business often bring can help significantly along our journey: I’m living proof.

The post How I Got a Deal on Shark Tank appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

2 Hours in Positano that Changed My Life

Written by Aaron Lee, founder & CEO at iluma Agency. The original version of this article appeared on Aaron’s LinkedIn blog.

Aaron graduated from EO Accelerator and went on to become an EO member in 2011. He says, “One of the most meaningful discoveries I made in EO Accelerator was that I was not alone as an entrepreneur. EO Accelerator allowed me to accept my mistakes, fill my experience gaps with wisdom and create an inspiring vision for my business.” Learn more about this life-changing program for first-stage entrepreneurs, and hear from other participants. 

Realizing the power of just one moment.
I can hear someone hammering nearby—more of a tapping than a construction project. It piques my curiosity and I start to wander around, trying to find the source.

I glance up cobblestone alleys and around the corner of a café, but all I can see are some tourists darting in and out of shops and some locals milling around as the day gets up to speed. The tapping continues and I’m starting to feel like the poor soul in Poe’s tortuous poem, The Raven.

Finally, after turning around several times, I isolate the direction the noise is coming from and head for a stone wall ledge off to my right. Bringing my wife Lisa into the hunt, we peer over and on a terrace below us is a cobbler, handcrafting sandals out of a small box of tools and beads. I felt like we had been transported back in time.

Not only was I satisfied for having tracked down the source of my curiosity, but the moment itself was just such a perfect snapshot of what I had imagined this place would be. I was so struck by the scene, that I quickly grabbed my camera and captured the moment so it would never fade from my memory.

Then something absolutely amazing happened that would alter the course of my life, from that moment on.

It was a cool morning in April of 2011 when I found myself wandering around this cliff side town of Positano, Italy. Truth be told, it wasn’t even on my list of “must see” places during this trip. We wouldn’t have been there at all if it wasn’t for my mother insisting that “we had to visit the Amalfi Coast before making our way to Pompeii.”

She knew. For those who have never been, Positano, Italy is one of several towns and cities that line Italy’s west coast near the Bay of Naples. Our tour bus journey from Naples to Positano was a winding path of roads that clung to the edge of rocky cliffs, weaving it’s way along the coastline.

On this chilly April morning the misty skies leant a surreal nature to the whole experience. After descending through what seemed like one impossible switchback after another (and witnessing some of the most miraculous mini-bus driving I have ever seen), we finally arrived in the heart of Positano. I stepped off the bus and fell in love with this unique Italian beauty.

Small shops, cafes and hotels line the cobblestone streets. Printed linens and lemons the size of small gourds hung from storefronts, and warm cappuccinos were being set down with biscotti’s atop outdoor tables. Arched pathways made of purple petunia flowers decorated our path as we set off to explore this cliffside wonder.

We shopped, tasted and drank in the postcard scenes all around us until finally we arrived at the stone wall overlooking the cobbler—and by then I was smitten. But I was also a little sad. Our morning was ticking away, managed by the tick-tock schedule of our Italian guide. After just two hours there, we boarded the bus again to make our way to Sorrento and Pompeii. Just as I had fallen in love, it was already time to leave.

That’s why the moment hit me so hard.

By this point in my life, I had already been in business for myself for 10 years. I had started with a flaming parachute leap from a dotcom startup in late 2000, and armed with just US$6,000 in savings and the equity I had built in my relationships over my career. From my living room—and with dogged determination—I found a way to survive for 10 more years, growing one client at a time.

But that was just it. After 10 years, I was still just “surviving” the creative agency I had always dreamed of building. I was able to support my wonderful family and my small staff, but we always operated one project to the next, navigating a predictably unpredictable cash flow. The hard truth was that my company really owned me. There was plenty of optimism but never any certainty (which meant profits were rare).

Eighteen months before I found myself here on the Amalfi coast, I was introduced to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). I had spent a year-and-a-half learning from the experiences of a group of peers I never knew I had, fellow business owners.

More than anything that I learned from the expert business resources I had access to, my thought process was mostly altered by the realization that my peers each had a different relationship to their business. Mine was very personal, while theirs seemed much more objective overall. I began to realize that the only business plan I had ever had was, “Just don’t go out of business”. It had been a long 10 years, never knowing what tomorrow would bring. I knew then that it didn’t have to keep being that way.

Back in Positano, I grabbed the handrail in front of me, looking out at the misty waters ahead. A vision suddenly came into sharp focus and I grinned as a powerful wave of emotion rolled over me. These moments in life are rare, and if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to disregard them as some silly daydream. I knew enough to stop and say it out loud to someone who would hear my words for what they were. I turned to Lisa (pictured above) and said this:

“We are going to come back here in ten years and spend six weeks here over the summer, and at the end of those six weeks I want to be able turn to you and ask ‘do you want to spend another six weeks here?’”

I knew if I could afford to freely ask that question, I would have completely transformed my business from being one that was still surviving, to one that was finally thriving. So how has that moment shaped my life? It has been nearly six years since I made that commitment in Positano and today my life is right on course to fulfill my vision.

My firm, iluma Agency is growing aggressively and profitably, with a strong leadership team and incredible focus. We know what makes us tick, who we are, and how we add value. As a result, we’ve enjoyed being named to the Inc5000 list of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies, for three years straight. I’ve also been serving as the president of the EO South Florida chapter that I joined just seven years ago, volunteering many hours each week, while developing critical leadership skills and experience. And just yesterday, I booked a flight for a week-long trip back to Italy  with Lisa. We’re going to spend three days in Positano and this time I’ll begin scouting out our perfect 2020 summer home just three years from now.

I can’t wait to send you that postcard.

Looking back on my life since that moment, here’s what I’ve realized. If you never create an inspiring vision for your future, then all of your daily choices will only be filled with repeated lessons from your past.

Imagining myself on that cliff—and asking my wife that one simple question—has shaped my response to countless decisions. In that moment, I had no idea how I would make it a reality. Every day since I’ve been presented with countless, seemingly inconsequential choices. Over time I’ve tried to guide my answer to each one by asking myself, “Does this get me back to Positano by 2020?” And every small choice has built upon the last one, until now when I look ahead—and what once seemed like a dream—now looks like a clear and predictable future.

So ask yourself: What’s your Positano?

Aaron Lee graduated from EO Accelerator and went on to become an EO member in 2011. He says, “One of the most meaningful discoveries I made in EO Accelerator was that I was not alone as an entrepreneur. EO Accelerator allowed me to accept my mistakes, fill my experience gaps with wisdom and create an inspiring vision for my business.” Learn more about this life-changing program for first-stage entrepreneurs, and hear from other participants. 

The post 2 Hours in Positano that Changed My Life appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

The Realities of Being Self-Employed

business womenWritten for EO by Ken Boyd, a former CPA who creates accounting and personal finance content. 

“Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

This quote, attributed to Thomas Edison, captures the reality of being self-employed. Working for yourself allows you to capitalize on opportunities that may not be available to you as an employee. However, seizing the opportunity may require far more work hours and responsibility than you spend at a traditional job.

That’s the trade off.

So, before you abandon life as an employee in favor of launching your own startup or becoming your own boss, consider these top realities of self-employment.

The Realities

A recent study of 500 self-employed respondents conducted by QuickBooks Self-Employed reveals some interesting truths of being self employed:

  • More hours: 14% of those surveyed work 50 hours a week, and more than 10% of work more than 50 hours in a given week. The self-employed are also working weekends, with 32% of respondents working every weekend.
  • Vacation: Most of those surveyed take vacation, and 32% take a week of vacation each year. However, 30% of the respondents worked regularly or often while on vacation.
  • Concerns: This group had concerns that are common for self-employed people. 23% of respondents stated that work concerns often kept them up at night, and that cash flow ranked as the biggest concern for those surveyed.

How you would respond to these questions? How many hours are you working, and are you able to take time off? What is the quality of your vacation time? Do you have the personality, the drive, and the energy make it as self-employed person? 

What Does It Take?

So, what personality traits does it take to succeed in the self-employed world? After 19 years as a self-employed person, I’ll give you my list of must-have qualities:

  • Resilience: This is the most important word in the English language. Resilience is the ability to get back up after failure and keep moving forward. Sure, employees need resilience, but self-employed people need far more, because there are so many variables that can go wrong. After all, you’re responsible for marketing, producing the work or service, invoicing, and collecting money. 
  • Self-awareness: You need the ability to be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and find people who can help you in your areas of weakness. We all have weaknesses, so fill in the gaps.
  • The abilty to say no: You can’t please everyone, so don’t try. And, it may be counter-intuitive, but no self-employed person can succeed unless they turn away some business. If you’re going to work on your own, play to your strengths, and take on work that fits your strengths.

Ask yourself: do you have these personal traits? 

Now, you can develop some of traits over time. In my case, I think I’ve always had the first two traits, but the need to please was tough for me. It’s taken years of self-discipline to turn away work that wasn’t a fit for me.

The Payoff

While the work hours and responsibility are greater for self-employed people, the personal satisfaction of working on your own can be rewarding.

In addition, you can jump into interesting projects that you could never take on as an employee. If an opportunity comes your way, you can take on an exciting project and reduce the time spent with other clients. Last, but not least, you have the ability to earn far more income as a self-employed person.

Take Some Time

Striking out on your own is a big decision, both professionally and financially, so take some time to think. Ask the people who know you best if self-employment fits your personality and your strengths.

Most important, realize that you’ll face more challenges as a self-employed professional. If you’re resilient and adaptable to change, working on your own can be rewarding.

Ken Boyd is the author of Cost Accounting for Dummies, Accounting All-In-One for Dummies, The CPA Exam for Dummies, and 1,001 Accounting Questions for Dummies. You can find his blog, YouTube channel links, and other information at


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5 Tips for Smart Scaling

Written for EO by Christina Sanders 

You’ve started a business, and it’s taking off. It’s a great feeling.

Now, the next hurdle is quickly heading your way: scaling. Taking your business to the next level can be a challenge—but only if you’re not prepared for it.

Here are a few lessons that I learned from scaling my own business, plus advice on avoiding the obstacles I experienced. 

1. You Need a Plan

“I want to scale my business” isn’t a plan. To scale successfully, you need a specific list of goals and tactics.

Those goals should be reasonable and measurable (think SMART), and the tactics need to be customized to your business. For example, I was able to expand my business by creating a stronger presence on LinkedIn.

That might not work for you.

Take time to lay out a plan that’s well-thought-out and well-researched. You’ll save a ton of time in the long run.

Hear directly from the master of scaling, Verne Harnish, during EO’s weeklong virtual learning event, EO 24/7. Programming begins Monday 12 November, 2018. Register now!

2. Resources Don’t Manage Themselves

While you’re planning your scaling tactics, make sure to keep your schedules, resources, and files organized. You’ll need to coordinate more employees, keep more projects and tasks aligned, and find a way to manage an ever-increasing amount of marketing materials.

Invest in the tools to keep everything organized earlier rather than later. It’s a lot easier to establish superior organization practices before you grow. Investments like project management software, a marketing resource management system, and an effective customer relationship management (CRM) program go a long way.

3. Identify a Source for Funding

Scaling your business typically is not cheap. Determine if you’ll be hiring employees, increasing production, or investing in software.

Yes, you’ll be able to pay for these things when you start bringing in more money. But most of that needs to happen before you scale, not after.

That means you need to bring in capital. Will you get a business loan? Pursue funding? Put up your own cash? Any of those will work. But you need to set your plan and your goals for profit and paying off any loans.

4. Focus on Your Customers

If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re scaling your business, you’ve clearly made a habit of delighting your customers.

Don’t lose sight of that.

It’s easy to get too focused on your business when you’re scaling. Remember that, without exception, successful businesses are customer-focused. It’s not about your financial goals or your growth roadmap—it’s about how well you’re meeting the needs of your customers.

Customer focus is what drives business success, and scaling is no exception.

5. Invest in Employees

Your employees drive your business. They’re the beginning and end of your scaling process.

There’s a reason that big companies offer amazing perks and great pay—because they know their employees are the key to their continued growth and success.

Find the money to make certain your employees are happy with their pay and involve them in the scaling process. They’re an invaluable resource.

Scale Smart

Scaling your business is exciting—but don’t let that excitement get the better of you. Start with a solid plan and build from there. You’ll be glad you did.

Christina Sanders is a marketing expert with nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing and communications. She is currently an associate manager at Lucidpress, a design and brand management platform. Connect with Christina on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The post 5 Tips for Smart Scaling appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Not Yet Up on Influencer Marketing? Start Here

Written for EO by James Scott, a marketer and co-founder of Essay Supply.

Today, influencer marketing is one of the most effective tools for building brand loyalty and boosting sales in a short time period. If you have never worked with social media celebrities before, now’s the time to learn how to make influencer marketing work for you.

1. Make posts look like honest reviews

“If you want your marketing campaign to bring positive results, posts should read 100% naturally,” states Amanda Sparks, a chief marketer at ResumesCentre. Social media users follow the influencers’ profiles to find interesting content, not for intrusive ads. Avoid direct promotion and create posts that look like truthful reviews written by the digital celebrities.

Take a look at the following post published by a travel blogger Luisa Arriola. This text appears to be a personal opinion about the place she visited and truly loved. Even without any sales language, the post led her followers to check out Hostel Vista Verde.

2. Teach and educate your target audience

Christopher K. Mercer, a digital marketing specialist and CEO at Citatior, says, “Users really appreciate the influencers who share lifehacks and useful tips with their audience. So, it’s a good idea to ask an influencer to show and explain how to use your product. Followers will likely view this piece of content not as an advertisement, but as advice or a ‘how-to.’”

3. Incorporate ads subtly

Mention your product in a way that most users will not even notice that it’s actually an ad. The name of your product should become an essential part of the piece of content. Too hard to do? Turn to the pros. Writers at Upwork, OnlineWritersRating or PeoplePerHour can help you.

But if you want to learn how to use this copywriting technique by yourself, review the following post published by popular food blogger, Dennis Prescott. Neither the text nor photo looks too promotional. When Dennis talks about the summer backyard party with his friends and mentions about the grilled hot dogs and beer, every word of the post sounds natural.

4. Or … advertise openly

In rare cases, when it’s a fact that the influencer used your product and liked it, it’s OK to embrace the advertising. However, do so only if you are sure that your target audience will accept it positively. “If there is a risk that an obvious ad will result in hundreds of the negative comments and dislikes, you should give up this idea,” says Natalie Andersen, a CEO at GetGoodGrade.

Let’s analyze a sponsored post by BrighterWhite, where Malu Trevejo openly demonstrates a product she used. As a rule, this kind of promotions doesn’t work well, but it brought excellent results in this case. The trick here is that the singer’s followers are mainly teenagers, who tend to accept ads on social media more readily.

5. Review every post

Don’t allow an influencer to create and publish a post without your permission. Check the quality of content and make sure that it presents your brand in the most favorable light.

Moreover, you are responsible to proofread the text. Do it with the help of popular grammar checkers like Grammarly and Scribens or professional editing services like FlashEssay.

If you want to run an influencer marketing campaign successfully, start with learning the right editorial techniques. After that, find an influencer who actively communicates with your target audience and has loyal followers. Then, craft your content and create a buzz!

james scott Essay SupplyJames Scott is a marketer and co-founder of Essay Supply. He specializes in targeting, branding and SEO.

The post Not Yet Up on Influencer Marketing? Start Here appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

The Secret to Engaging Gen Z Employees

generation z employees like feedbackWritten by Heather Watson, behaviorial designer at The Center for Generational Kinetics. A version of this article originally appeared on the The Center’s blog. 

Does it feel like you just started getting used to Millennials’ workplace preferences? Well, it’s time to start adapting to the next generation of workers: Generation Z. What’s the secret to engaging Gen Z at work? Feedback, feedback and more feedback!

Gen Z Employees Want (Very) Frequent Feedback from Managers

In our 2017 Gen Z national study, we discovered that 60% of these younger workers want multiple check-ins from their managers during the week. In fact, of those, 40% want an interaction with their boss daily or several times each day. And while we saw this trend with Millennials, it’s really taking off with Gen Z.

But what does that mean? Do managers need to have hour-long conversations with Gen Z employees, multiple times during the week? Who has that kind of time? In fact, what this group actually wants is not lengthy discussions. Rather, they want consistent recognition.

Gen Z wants to know that you see them and that you appreciate their effort. A two-minute, daily check-in could be all they need. For example, here is a quote from one of our Gen Z focus group participants: “I’m really difficult on myself, so it means a lot to have a supervisor take time out of their day to be physically present and verbally say ‘We value you.’” Feedback and check-ins with their managers are how Gen Z employees know they are doing a good job.

Explore other EO Octane articles about Generation Z.

Unlike the generations before them, such as Gen X and Baby Boomers, Generation Z sees conversations with their managers as a good thing. Many older employees viewed conversations with a boss as trouble. Gen Z, however, will feel something is wrong if managers are distant.

What Kind of Feedback Does Gen Z Want?

Engaging Gen Z at work requires coaching to the performance as well as to the person, which might be unfamiliar territory for Baby Boomers.

Gen Z wants both constructive skills-based feedback as well as personal check-ins. As the new generation in the workplace, they need senior employees, managers, and mentors to help build their skills. Not all of your feedback needs to be confidence boosting or high fives—they don’t need a trophy every 10 minutes. Instead, when you see areas that need development, say, “Hey, I need to show you how to do this differently, more effectively, or more efficiently.”

Additionally, while Gen Z definitely wants feedback on their job performance, they also crave personal interaction. For Gen Z, having a boss that’s also a friend or mentor is key to engagement. As a supervisor, show them you are not only interested in their work, but also their lives outside of work. Get to know them as people, not just employees. Ask about their pets, hobbies, interests, family—anything, as long as you show that you care about their life.

A version of this article originally appeared on the blog of The Center for Generational Kinetics, which was co-founded by EO member Denise Villa-Dorsey Ph.D. (pictured, at left). The Center solves tough generational challenges with Gen Z, Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomers. The Center delivers custom research, speaking and strategic consulting deliver innovative, practical solutions that drive results.  


The post The Secret to Engaging Gen Z Employees appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

5 Books to Motivate a Digital Nomad

Written for EO by Jason Mueller.

Nothing beats having the freedom to work remotely from a coffee shop in Copenhagen, a bistro in Italy or maybe from a cabana in Costa Rica. For many, life as a digital nomad can be rewarding, exciting and inspiring.

If working remotely as a digital nomad sounds like la bella vita to you—but you need that extra push or you simply want to prepare—then you’ll want to explore these books!

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This book is a boundless resource for not only people who want to live a successful life as a digital nomad, but for anyone who needs encouragement and direction to boost their faith in their own decisions and accomplish goals in life. While written in the 1930s, Think and Grow Rich has long been listed at the top of motivational books that truly change lives.

2. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

This is the perfect book for teaching what being rich really means, and how you can have financial success in the future with the steps you take today. It explains the difference between working hard and building assets. Perfect for anyone who longs for shorter work hours to allow for more adventures!

3. Unshakable by Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins has long been known as the top lifestyle and business coach in the world, and this book gets to the core of how to maximize your finances to achieve financial freedom. As a digital nomad, knowing how to start and then continue earning while you’re traveling is key to living successfully overseas.

4. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

James Altucher shows his readers how to invest in themselves to achieve greatness. If you’re feeling unsure about pursuing your ultimately goals and lifestyle, this books provides perfect motivation. Plus, it’s a great read for those long plane trips! Learn how to ‘choose yourself’ to live a life of freedom and happiness.

5. The Power of Broke by Daymond John

Many wanderers have little money to travel when they start out, but thanks to Daymond John and his book The Power of Broke, you’ll quickly see why having little can lead to great things. Even starting a business when you have little money to back it can be the start of a life of success. Hard work and determination and knowing how to use your resources wisely will help you connect with clients. It’s also a great guide for making personal connections and living life to the fullest when you’re moving from one place to the next.

Jay Mueller is an entrepreneur and traveler. He writes for If you are an entrepeneur who values discovery, learning and inspiration, check out how to apply for membership in EO.

The post 5 Books to Motivate a Digital Nomad appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

9 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Like Superheroes

entrepreneurs are today's superheroes

A version of this article originally appeared on the EO Melbourne blog. The content has been edited and reprinted here with permission.

Stories of entrepreneurs overcoming early obstacles and ultimately achieving success on their journey can be found on every blog or business site. And these tales leave many of us thinking, “Wow! They did all that?” Some people even regard today’s entrepreneurs as modern day heroes or, even, superheroes.

With superhero movies debuting regularly on the big screen, it’s natural to make the comparison. After all, those caped crusaders and masked heroes may have awesome moves and incredible powers, they are essentially hardworking individuals overcoming challenges in often unexpected and bold ways.

Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of superheroes and spot the parallels with entrepreneurs.

1. Superheroes often start as underdogs.

Even heroes get bullied and experience hardships early in their lives. It’s when they experience being at the bottom that they set their sights for the top. It’s also when they realize the shared pain of so many others.

For superheroes—and entrepreneurs—it’s often this early suffering that ignites a passionate drive to help others and save the world. It motivates them to push forward and reach for their dreams—to leap without looking.

2. Superheroes must learn to master their power.

Upon discovering the power they hold, superheroes don’t jump up immediately and start saving the world. In fact, one of the biggest challenges for young superheroes is learning to control their power and wield it for good. They inevitably make missteps and must continue refining their understanding of superpowers.

Likewise, having a super idea, a super personality or a super brain for business does not make you a successful entrepreneur. Growing a business takes time, and continuous learning. Patience truly is a virtue for both superhero and entrepreneur.

3. Symbols are significant.

Superman wears his red cape. Captain America carries his shield. Batman dons his mask. These signature looks let others identify them easily.

Without a doubt, branding is important in building your reputation. It helps people identify and connect with your personality, product and services. Particularly in today’s visually focused world, marketing matters. Keep your look—whether it’s a signature color or logo—consistent across platforms to establish your brand and attract followers.

4. Responsibilities, responsibilities, responsibilities.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Peter Parker’s uncle Ben said in the Spiderman movie. Being a superhero is no joke! You will work round the clock, and must reply to even the most harrowing calls for help. Hardworking superheroes often sacrifice their family, friends and loved ones. Plus, their superpowers have limits. Ultimately, their powers are intended for the good of others and not for selfish gains.

Consider everything that entrepreneurs are juggling! Besides running a company—and the leadership, strategy, sales and downright hard work that business requires—there’s family, friends, networking and personal interests. For entrepreneurs, work is life and life is work. Many are so passionate about their business that they sacrifice their personal lives and even their health.

Striving for the balance of responsibilities in all aspects of your life becomes critical to the long-term viability and wellness of both your business and your self.

5. Heroes save the world, but they also need to be saved.

Superheroes save lives. They fight crimes. They rescue those in need. But, they often have a sidekick or at least a little help from their superhero friends.

Despite their powers, superheroes often need a hero themselves.

Leading a company can be a lonely position. The responsibility to run a successful business and support employees can be impossible to bear. Remember: Behind every successful entrepreneur is a family, a loved one or, if you’re lucky, a network of other entrepreneurs who provide support and advice.

6. It’s not just the cape that makes superheroes fly.

Sure, some superheroes can fly. But it’s not just their cape that helps them defy the force of gravity. Wind propels them upward and helps them soar like a bird.

The most well-known entrepreneurs attribute much of their success to an effective team that helps them achieve their goals. Hiring the right staff members is one of the many obstacles early-stage entrepreneurs must tackle. However, once they’ve placed the right people in the right roles, they can achieve goals by leaps and bounds.

7. For every superhero, there is a villain.

There’s no hero without a villain. Villains wreak havoc and create chaos for humanity. They add excitement to the story, and they also keep the superhero busy!

In business, “villains” create a dent in a brand or a venture. They compete for clients or employees. The smartest entrepreneurs will learn from these enemies and build their business in spite of the competition. It’s these villains who help mould your business and also develop your leadership and business savvy.

8. Joining a league is an “in” thing.

There’s the Justice League, the Avengers and the X-Men. We love it when heroes band together to fight a greater evil. There’s strength in numbers—and the more diverse powers they can pool, the stronger they become.

At some point in their journey, business owners realize the benefit of being with like-minded individuals who can relate to their struggles. Inevitably, mature entrepreneurs wish they’d realized the value of learning from others earlier in their journey.

For thousands of entrepreneurs across the globe, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization is this band of brothers and sisters who support and guide each other. Members emphasize the many ways that EO enriches their business and personal lives. 

9. The battle is endless.

As long as there is evil in this world, superheroes are here to stay. Their mission is ongoing.

Most entrepreneurs say that the challenges never stop. Once you’ve figured out one aspect of business, another challenge—or opportunity to learn—crops up. Thus growth is ongoing. For every victory, there is a new goal.

According to Christopher Reeve, the American actor who portrayed the role of Superman, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” For many entrepreneurs, this characterization probably sounds very familiar.

Are you a superhero entrepreneur looking for your league? Check out why entrepreneurs join EO.


The post 9 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Like Superheroes appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Leadership Training Like No Other

EO’s Regional Leadership Academies (RLA) are offered across the globe and provide EO member leaders insights and education under the guidance of world-class facilitators. RLA focuses on leading in diversity, recognizing that leadership is about leading diverse teams from multiple countries, races, cultures, languages and styles.

With a limited number of attendees in each class and a fully immersive format, attendees are pushed beyond their comfort zones and graduate with skills to change their lives for the better.

We asked Jason Lind (pictured at left), an RLA graduate from EO Cape Town, about his experience in this groundbreaking program.

Why did you apply for the program?

It was an opportunity to engage with global EO members in my home town. The challenge of interacting with such a diverse range of nationalities and people is out of my normal routine, and I was looking to challenge myself and learn from the experience.

What surprised you about the program?

Every single moment of the course surprised me. I went with an open mind and no expectations, and I was completely blown away.

The tone for the event was set the first morning with an incredible visit to the Pollsmoor prison facility in Tokai, Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela stayed in the final years of his sentence. The energy and engagement that followed brought incredible value to the course.

What was the highlight of the program for you?

The course itself is the highlight. The RLA package comes together as a complete experience. There were fun moments and interesting learning, but the course sits as a highlight of my year and that is thanks to all the elements that the RLA team bring to the event.

From the content and the calibre of those delivering the content, to the activities and social spaces provided to encourage all attendees to engage with each other, RLA is by far the best EO experience I have had the privilege of attending.

I am super excited, as I am sure it is just the start of my EO leadership journey.

What were your key take-aways?

Taking action makes a difference. Whether it is taking action to create new habits for personal or business growth, or taking action to build a better world, it starts with each one of us. Putting one foot in front of the other with determination to reach our goals will get us there. We just need to take the first steps.

Also, the power of proper scheduling is something I try to make use of daily now. It helps me to focus on the important goals in my life effectively.

How has RLA impacted you as an entrepreneur?

RLA allowed me to truly be a part of the global EO community. Seeing the global picture and experiencing how learning and working together can make a difference in the world has inspired me to take action in my own community.

I am in the early phases of creating better communication and channels among various stakeholders in the ex-offenders and reintegration space, to help make our communities and cities safer and more positive.

I’m working on this with the support of other RLA participants. Knowing my peers stand behind me has motivated me to lead a project that can make a real difference in the lives of people that need our help, guidance and inspiration.

EO members can learn more about the project from our MyEO group.

EO is a collection of like-minded entrepreneurs focused on business growth, personal development and community engagement. Learn what 13,000+ entrepreneurs are experiencing as members of EO.


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