What tips do you have for building long-term relationships with the people who can help a business and investments grow?
You have to be a great leader. It’s something I’m learning. I never stop learning to be a leader. I can’t say I am a great leader. I desire. I strive. I improve my leadership skills.
There’s a great book called “The Starfish and the Spider,” and it’s a great book on leadership. It’s a very simple read. They’re two different leadership styles. In other words, you cut the spider’s head off, the whole animal dies. You can cut a starfish up in a thousand pieces and get a thousand starfish. That’s the difference. I am a starship style. I am not a spider style. It’s a great book on leadership, and I’m consistent in my leadership.
Looking back over the years, is there anything you would have done differently to be more successful today?
I don’t regret anything I’ve done because everything I’ve done has been a learning experience. I never stop learning. I make mistakes constantly. Today, with the economy as hard as it is, I would just say a tough economy means I have to get smarter. That’s all it means. I don’t judge it as good or bad.
Other than being on “Oprah,” what marketing and promotional activities have been successful for you?
Every product I design has a viral component to it. In other words, I don’t have formal sales people working for me or my company. So if a product is viral, and that means if someone recommends your book to someone else, it was designed into the book and my board game.
In other words, I have people teaching people or people selling for me. And in today’s over-cluttered, over-communicated world, the person you’re going to listen to the most is a friend who says, “Hey, I read a great book, or here’s a great product I recommend.” It is the most powerful form of marketing there is. It’s also the oldest form of marketing there is.
Who are some other people that you look up to and have guided your career along the years?
Well, I have partners who I respect tremendously. I only do business with people I respect. You look at all of our company, and my advisors are real advisors. They are not financial planners. They are not celebrities. They are people hitting the trenches every single day.
Another thing too, I don’t have to know anything. I just have to know who knows. The reason I say that is I’m coming out with a new book called “The Conspiracy of the Rich” which is a Web book, and it’s for free.
Well, why am I doing this? Because I know it’s going to make me money. I don’t have to be the smartest person on Earth. I just have to know who is smart, who has ethics, who has integrity and who shares the same values I do.
What is your top advice for the entrepreneurs out there, and people who just have a good business idea, who are afraid to move forward?
I will say it again. Have them read the book “Before You Quit Your Job.” You’ve got to take advice from people who’ve done what you want to do. The point is, if you’re going to be successful at anything in life, you’ve got to spend time with people who practice what they preach. If you’re afraid, you’re probably hanging out with other cowards.
So in this economy, if we’re going into a depression, you better have Plan B ready to go. Don’t hope the economy is going to come back. Don’t hope Obama is going to save you…because they’re not. They can’t. You’ve got to save yourself. This is not a time to be afraid. This is a time to be brave. This is a time to become smarter. Not to become Chicken Little with the sky falling. And if you can do that, you’ll be an entrepreneur. If you can’t do that, you’re finished. This is the time to learn.
I think everyone sees the professional business side of you. Maybe you’d like to share some of the things you like to do in your free time?
Well, I hate to say this. Business is my game. It’s more than a hobby to me. It’s my life. And I’ve always surrounded myself with the best people…my greatest pleasure in life is hanging out with really smart people who are part of business and business teams.
What I cannot stand is illegal, immoral and unethical acts. I’m ripped to shreds constantly in the blogs. And I just have to be true to me. I know my accountants and my attorney wouldn’t be around me if I was a crook. Do you see what I’m saying? If you’re a crook accountant, you’ll hang out with a crook business leader.
Is there anything else you would like to share that we haven’t touched on that may help some of the entrepreneurs out there?
You are the company you keep. And if you improve, then the people around you will improve. It’s a very easy measurement. And what that comes up to is instead of trying to change the world, just change yourself.