What Are You Best At?

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What is it that you can do better than anyone else?

Most of us go through our entire lives without asking, much less answering, that question. And yet the answer to that question could determine our ultimate success or failure.

The Beatles weren’t the best musicians in the world. There were better rhythm guitarists than John Lennon, better lead guitarists than George Harrison, better drummers than Ringo Starr, and even better bass players than Paul McCartney (although admittedly not many). So how ...

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Are You Better Than Nothing?

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Whatever business you’re in, you’re selling something. It may be a product, it may be a service, but you’re selling something. And my guess is that you’ve got competitors who are also selling something—probably something identical or very similar to what you’re offering. It’s your job to convince your customer that you—your product, your service—will be the best solution for their needs. But if that’s all you do, you may very well fail. Because it’s no longer enough to convince ...

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How Cutting Corners Can Kill You

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I’m writing this from an airport frequent flyer lounge. In my business as a professional speaker, I spend a lot of time in airports, and I consider the annual investment I make in these frequent flyer lounges to be almost a necessity. Like most of my colleagues, I do so much work in airports while waiting for flights that it’s particularly important to have a comfortable place to relax, plug in the computer, have a cup of tea or glass ...

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Breaking Out of “Home Base”

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It’s not an absolute rule, but Beatles fans tend to fall into one of two camps: those who favor the early Beatles (She Loves You through roughly the Help! album) and those who prefer the later Beatles (say, Rubber Soul through Abbey Road). It pretty much depends on which iteration of the band you grew up with (or encountered initially, for those of you who weren’t lucky enough to catch them the first time around). Although I’m a huge fan ...

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What Are Your Assumptions Costing You?

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I just got back from a speaking engagement in DeFuniak Springs, Florida (“Home of the Second Roundest Lake in the World!”). I spoke there on Saturday night, delivering my signature keynote presentation, The 5 Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made…and Why You Should Make Them Too! Because of a combination of inclement weather and a mix-up in the printed schedule, attendance was much lighter than we anticipated. Let’s just say that well over 200 of the 300 available seats were ...

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Making Music vs. Playing the Notes

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I enjoy playing the piano. People may not enjoy listening to me play the piano, but I still enjoy it. This morning I was playing through a jazz version of the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever. I started working on it this past weekend, and I’m pretty close to having it under my fingers now. In a couple of days, I should have the notes down. But it will still be far from “audience ready.” See, there’s a difference between “playing ...

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A Tale of Two Apples

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Last week I read an article on Forbes.com about the early days of the Apple computer company. It turns out that when Steve Jobs, Apple’s visionary co-founder who embodies and personifies the company’s slogan of “Think Different,” was asked in 1983 by the team working on the Mac for a standard they should shoot for, Jobs’ answer was simple: the Beatles.

The Beatles.

Not another computer company. Not another tech company. Not even another manufacturing company. A rock group. Steve Jobs wanted ...

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When Plans Go Awry

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Boy, was yesterday going to be a great day! So many fun plans, and perfect weather for them, too! (You: “What were these fun plans, Bill?” Me: “None of your business. But trust me, they were going to be fun!”) I hop out of bed, eager to get started. But first, a quick e-mail check. Yes, this is a blatant violation of the rule Julie Morgenstern talks about in her book Never Check E-Mail In the Morning, but I’m a ...

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The Power of Ideas

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I’ve been talking a lot about ideas lately. I love ideas. I love coming up with them, I love watching others come up with them, I love seeing them brought to fruition. It’s been said that, in business, nothing happens until somebody sells something. That may be true, but you know what? In virtually everything—business included—nothing happens until somebody has the idea for it. Look around you. Everything you see (at least everything human-made), from the shoes on your feet ...

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Are You a Crank or a Visionary?

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So I was reading through a book of Mark Twain quotes last night (did the guy ever say anything that wasn’t pure gold?), and I came upon one that was particularly relevant to my last post:

“The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

Bill Gates was an idiot whose idea of “a computer on every desk” was patently absurd. Those wacky Wright kids, Orville and Wilbur, with their crazy “flying machine” idea—what were they thinking? And ...

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