iAdvance Blog is Moving Forward

To all our readers and followers @ iAdvance:

I Advance Blog is being transformed. A new look will go hand in hand with great content and new development projects.

As our original goal was to inspire our readers to move forward with their professional careers and their business vision, we wanted to do the same. We are proud to introduce a new venture.

Entrespective.com will continue with the core ideas and values held on iAdvanceBlog. Our objective will be to promote the entrepreneurial perspective and vision. Regardless of industry, career, age or financial goals, we believe everyone benefits from acquiring the mind-set and vision of the entrepreneur.

Come join us, and take your vision, confidence and business to the next level!

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LX Ventures, LLC

Why Do We Do What We Do? (Character & Personality)

Sometimes we do what we do because it’s a force of character. According to character-training.com/blog/, our character is what determines our responses to life situations (07/06/12). Character should be your main focus on your path to finding you personal and professional “Why”. Simply put, character is the foundation for success. Therefore, knowledge of what makes up your character brings you a step closer to your meaningful “Why” and the true source or fuel for your vision. As the definition above states, our character is in direct connection to our behavioral and verbal responses. I’m here to tell you, you have the power to change those responses. The first step is to get to know your character as much as you know your personality.

As defined by thepersonalitysystem.org, personality “is the entire mental organization of a human being at any stage of his development.” (07/06/12) Other web resources that talk about the concept of personality define it as “an attempt to capture or summarized an individual’s essence.” (wilderdom.com 07/06/12), or “the pattern of thought, feelings and behaviors that makes each of us the individuals that we are.” (mind.org.uk 07/06/12). What we gather from all these is that personality is a psychological and social construct, another way to privately and publicly classify and place people within socially accepted molds, according to their patterns of behavior. It is about what goes on in the realm of the mind and what defines our individuality. Also, it is a pattern, but unlike habits, the patterns of behaviors that make up our personality are innate, not learned. And what about character? As found in psychologytoday.com/blog, and its 04/03/11 post by Alex Lickerman, Personality vs. Character (07/06/12), character “includes traits that revel themselves only in specific and often uncommon circumstances.” Even more, “research has shown that personality traits are determined largely by heredity”, while character “traits like honesty, virtue and kindness”…“are more malleable” and “based on beliefs” (psychologytoday.com/blog). Our beliefs are “assumed truths” that “anchor our understanding of the world around us” (changingminds.org 07/09/12). As long as our experiences and knowledge of the world remains the same, so will our beliefs. We internalized other people’s beliefs, we take them from the mass media, and this is what drives our material consumption, as well as from the traumatic experiences from our own lives. This is crucial for the discovery of our meaningful why.

As we have seen, our why takes shape and forms from a true knowledge of our “self”, and therefore, of our needs, and a true commitment to change from within. I want to empower you to embrace change as the self-discovery of a better version of yourself. It is possible to change negative patterns into ‘new’ more productive and positive habits. It is possible to change the negative character traits that we have acquired along the way, from childhood to adulthood. What change requires is a measure of commitment. The paths to take are self analysis and self- accounting. Our wants can be separated from our needs; our core beliefs can be dissipated or reinforced by knowledge. Once we take the time to understand how our habits and character might be hindering us from moving forward, impacting our responses and in consequence our lives, change can be put in motion and, as a result, a better visualization of our Why and stronger determination to achieve it.

Food for Thought: on Habits

Habits have their place in our lives; however, it seems we have fallen into some of them by default. As much as they create an environment of certainty in our lives, we also need uncertainty and surprise. The latter are the elements that keep our lives moving forward, in expectation, driving our imagination and curiosity. Yes, the unknown might be frightening, but is also where the possibilities lie.

The Big Picture Vision

Let’s begin this post exploring a different concept, micromanagement.

Micromanage: “to manage, direct or conduct the activities of a group or an enterprise with excessive control or attention to details.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Entrepreneurs have a tendency to micromanage every aspect of their business. We seem unable to let go of the most fundamental tasks in fear that they won’t get done right. Just as we need to hold ourselves accountable in respect to the decisions we make and the steps we must take to achieve success, as business and as team leaders we must give our team members the physical, mental and emotional tools they need to take care of their assigned tasks without our constant supervision.

Why is it so important for us to delegate, and release, as it were, some of these responsibilities to our team?

A leader’s focus on the big picture is essential to his/her role. The fact of the matter is that this big picture will not be realized if the leader is not allowed, or does not allow himself, to concentrate on this primordial task.

As business leaders we must nurture and mentor our team. We must facilitate to them the right strategies for the successful, independent and unsupervised accomplishment of their everyday tasks.

Strategies:

Mission Statement

Every business venture must be accompanied by a clear mission statement, centered on core personal and professional values, and the meaningful reason or purpose behind the actions of the leader and his/her team.

Visual Roadmap

To bring your big picture vision closer to reality you must transfer the picture in your mind into a physical, tangible form. By making use of mind maps or flowcharts the big picture vision will come to life. This visual representation will facilitate the process of sharing and understanding the concepts and the steps that form the big picture, and that must be worked independently.

Expectation

By clearly defining and communicating what you expect from each team member, the quantity and quality of work will be measured against a known set of standards. This will, in turn, favor an environment of justice, fairness and open communication.

Decision Making

Giving each member of your team a degree of freedom over the management of their responsibilities, a sense of ownership over their tasks and positive feedback on their creative and problem solving abilities it is key. This way they will come to you with already plausible solutions at hand and with answers that would otherwise take you extra time and energy to have to work on yourself.

By creating balance between Empowerment and Accountability you will cement the foundations for business and entrepreneurial success. This balance not only needs to be developed and nurtured in your team, but must also be a constant element of your mental framework and business ethic.

Empowerment and accountability in your team and yourself will make it easier for you, the leader, to generate and fuel the daily doses of Big Picture Vision needed for your business to never lose focus of the ultimate goal and charter a new and stronger course toward success every day.

Tip of The Week: Enable Decision Making and Align Resources

You and your team must have the right tools for success. These tools may come in the form of constant, positive and appropriate guidance from you, as the leader, freedom to share and contribute, as well as resources to make the vision and the meaningful why a reality that now belongs to the team as a whole. The action of sharing your meaningful why will only work to empower the team and the tasks that each member must perform. The why will become the element holding the pieces together while the now community goals are being met. Once your team has been empowered with your vision and your why they may start assessing their own, establishing a new level of commitment to your vision for themselves. Achieving of a unified vision and why will enable you to build on the development and performance your team and better manage and lead their efforts.

Tip of The Week: Develop a Team to Search for Answers & Solutions

I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.

 Mia Hamm

  To achieve your vision you must inspire and rely on others. Your meaningful why needs to be shared to become stronger. Once the idea and the vision are in place, you must foster and develop a team, a group of people who will be there to support and further advance the completion of your original vision and goals. It’s key to understand that the path to success and the realization of your vision cannot be realized in an environment of complete independence and isolation from others. Your team will not only provide you with resources and strategies, but with the solutions you need to overcome hurdles and strengthen the true reason and purpose behind what you do, how you do it and what you ultimately want to accomplish.

Tip of The Week: Strive to Expand Possibilities

Your meaningful why needs to be the force behind all efforts towards your ultimate vision. This vision will never be realized until you embrace changes and challenges. These will, as a result, open up new possibilities, and therefore, new ideas and new opportunities. By refusing to change and challenge ourselves and our vision we may end up diminishing or completely eliminating our chances of success.  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Possibility is the condition or fact of being possible; the potential or prospective value, usually used in plural –Possibilities– This should make us think of a couple of things. First, the concept of what is possible goes beyond the singular thing, object or idea. Second, this means possibilities are a driving force with the potential to move us further and push us ahead. We must choose if the move will be positive, onwards and upward, or otherwise. By embracing possibilities we embrace as well the certain uncertainty of life. The adventure, the road to success, may only begin once we shed our fears and find the courage to open up the mystery box that has been placed before us.

PS: This post was inspired by J.J Abrams TED Talk “The Mystery Box”

Tip of The Week: Successful People Look to Give, Help and Enrich Lives

The driving force behind every move toward success must come from a source outside the self, a deep sense of social responsibility and an honest commitment to give back, help and better other people’s lives, be it through education or the necessary resources for their own self-improvement and success. The meaningful “why” is the one that takes your original idea, and personal endeavor, and translate it into a success multiplier; a source for new opportunities and new visions to be realized. By having a positive vision that connects your success with other people’s successes you re-purpose your own business and life’s goal to work as a model for optimistic and attainable entrepreneurial values; in which the individual is not alone and isolated in his or her pursuit of happiness, but in a semiotic relationship with the human, social and technological elements that have given his or her the tools to achieve that success.

Forget the Negative “What If”

It is good to think about other possibilities beyond our current reality. Asking what if this or that had happened or what if I did this or find that or get this and lose that, it’s all part of our capacity, as humans, to dream and visualized reality that has not happen, could have happened or does not exist, and feel it as a real life experience. However, what ifs are pointless if they come from wanting to change the outcome of things that have passed instead of focusing on solutions. What ifs are inconsequential as well if we keep them in the realm of the mind and never find a true purpose or drive to take them to the next level.

What ifs may be use as pathways into untapped regions of our consciousness, where we may explore ideas and concepts, possibilities. They should be means to an end, not ends in themselves. They should lead us in to bring out new inspiration to take action and follow throw those visions into reality.

The danger that we all should avoid is letting what ifs stop us in our tracks and keep us from moving into action. By staying motionless and in a state of day-dreaming we will only be robbing ourselves of an opportunity. We sabotage our own potential not only with negativity but with inaction and procrastination. What ‘s stopping us? Fear, the possibility of failure, and the impossibility for us to leave behind a legacy worthy of what we think others expect from us.

Yes, I encourage you to dream big, however, to minimize the potentially harmful what ifs, those that restrain you from action or spring from regret instead of wonder, you should aim to design those dreams around a true knowledge of your “self”. To move away from the negative what ifs in your life you must take accountability of your actions, assets, financial and otherwise, your traits, your expertise, your passions, your wants, your needs, your habits, your character, your why. Negative what ifs may only be defeated and overcome once our true reason and purpose has been established, without the shadow of a doubt, our path has been set and our mind has a clear vision of its destination.

On Mapping Your Own Road to Success

Like me, most of the people I know have followed the very traditional path of formal schooling, college education and a graduate level degree. That was the only road to travel in my mind and a result of my upbringing. I do not regret it. For me, learning is a passion, and my years in college only fueled me with more desire to learn and teach. However, I was fortunate enough not to depend on student loans, thanks, in no small part, to my parents sacrifice. Others aren’t, or have not been, so lucky.

I had, unconsciously, adopted my mother’s mentality, “We are meant to work for somebody else”. She only told me this a few months ago, nevertheless I always felt it. That had always been my goal and my vision, all throughout college. I was to go out into the world, send my resume to strangers in the hopes they might get a glimpse of all my abilities and potential, a glimpse into who I was, and give me the chance to work 40hrs a week to get pay minimum wage, and someday, may be, I would get to climb my own ladder and make my own imprint on the glass ceiling.

These all might sound a bit sad and depressing. It is not.  We can surely find success taking the traditional road.  Professionals can become experts in their fields; get the opportunity to be part of a great, innovative company, with a great culture and values. You may be able to break through the glass ceiling, and reach the position you were always meant to have; in my mother’s case, an office with a window.

I do admire her for that goal, and for her achievements. She has belonged to the fast-pace, male dominated corporate world since the 70’s.

But I do wonder if my vision of what I could do and what I could accomplish was blurred, and I could not see, at the time, the bigger picture of possibilities.

This week I watched the CNBC 20 under 20 two-part documentary (about The Thiel Foundation’s Fellowship Program).  The selected group of young men and women will be given 2 years, and a substantial amount of money, to develop their own unique ideas and projects. The core thesis for the program comes from at least two elements of our current reality; first, the fact that college tuition and the amount of student loans graduate students have to pay after graduation is a great burden for the young professionals trying to get ahead in the eight to five job market. Second, the growing awareness of our social consciousness about the fact that traditional college drop-outs have come up with ingenious ideas and business ventures that have had great amounts of success, and have actually change many aspects of our lives and the course of our history.

Why were we lead to believe we could not act upon our ideas and ideals without the patronage of a corporate overlord? Could this mentality be the product of my middle-class upbringing?

What is the difference between us and men like Disney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Peter Thiel? Yes, they have made a lot of money, but most importantly, they created a legacy; they had an idea, and found the way to follow through, and some of them did it without a college degree.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, an entrepreneur is someone who “organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise”. So, as I see it, the difference between them and us is simply the amount of risks we are willing to take, to take a concept from idea to reality, to take a project through every failure up to success.

Society will not change its traditional structure by tomorrow, the traditional path to a career, and more importantly, to a job, will still be lay down for our young people, pretty much the same way that was lay down for us. Our college years may be long gone, but we still have ideas, we still come up with interesting projects, and now, thanks to those entrepreneurs before us, we do have some valuable tools to make them happen.  What would it take for us to start assuming more risks on our own, instead of conforming ourselves to being only witnesses of other people’s ventures? What would it take for us to set ourselves, our children and young people toward as riskier path? Yes, it would involve facing failure and fears, but in the end, wouldn’t it have been worth it, if all efforts and risks resulted in greater freedom, and greater ownership of our and their own success?