Hello! This newsletter was written on a plane flying from Cincinnati to Denver. I was out there for a Growth Coach regional conference. It was fun and beneficial to get together with other coaches. Uninterrupted time on a plane presents a good opportunity for creative writing. This issue will be a potpourri of content and ideas for you. I hope you find the items helpful!
Your Story

Recently I was blessed to be a Coach and Speaker at the 22nd annual Women in Technology Summit. The event had great energy and a clearly positive vibe. 

I led two Coaching Circles: one on LinkedIn and the other on Small Business. At the latter one I was asked a really good question that's pertinent to owners of small businesses. The question was: "How important is having a story as a small business owner?"

How important is having a story as a small business owner?
My answer was that it's REALLY important. A great story will draw people in to your business with  curiosity and interest . It's your hook. After you've hooked them your offering should take over.

The 11-year-old Shark Tank Contestant
Here's an example, 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer was on Shark Tank with her special variety of lemonade. The recipe it's based on originated with her grandmother. Mikaila updated the recipe by adding some local honey and other ingredients and wants to support bees with some of the proceeds. The lemonade is now called Me & The Bees Lemonade. Can you imagine this little girl coming to the auditions for Shark Tank among all the older entrepreneurs? She stood way out. 

Her story hooked them and got her a $60,000 investment. It also hooked Whole Foods. They loaned her some working capital to increase her flavors and ramp up production. Her lemonade is sold in 55 Whole Foods markets. The first link on her site is Our Story

Have you heard of this brand? It's based in beleaguered Detroit and their flagship product is a line of reasonably expensive watches. In reality this brand was built from the ground up to be an American success "story". The founder, Tom Kartsotis, made his riches from the Fossil watch brand and came up with this great story that he believed would capture hearts and minds: A new great American brand that is made in Detroit by people formerly displaced by offshoring. They even invested a pretty penny to purchase the Shinola brand name, which dates back to WWI. The plan has worked beautifully. Their revenue last year exceeded 100 million dollars according to this Inc article.

So, What's Your Story?
Now you may not think you have a great story behind your brand, but I believe you do. You may have to dig back in to your past, ask a few people who know you well, and even get a creative writer to help you put it in to words that hook people in. BUT, IT'S WORTH IT. As Shinola, and Me & The Bees have proven, you can take your story to the bank.
Book Recommendation

Boy do I have a GOOD ONE for you this time around!  This brand new book unravels a mystery that has bedeviled the leaders at West Point for years: Why do a certain number of cadets drop out during the 7-week basic training nicknamed Beast Barracks even though their formal education hasn't started yet? It's incredibly difficult to get in to West Point. So, you'd think that nearly every person accepted would tough it out through Beast.
Well, the leaders studied the students in many ways but still hadn't come across a method that would accurately predict who would make it and who wouldn't until they met the Grit Scale. 

Got Grit?
The Grit Scale, presented in the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, written by Angela Duckworth, is a unique test. It looks at a variety of factors, but what it measures best is who has the grit necessary to ride out difficult times to last until they achieve their ultimate goals.

Many among us feel that natural talent is what is the basis for some of the highest achieving people in our midst, but that would be missing another huge factor. Passion and perseverance will cause a person to make effort after effort tirelessly over a long period to make it. In fact, in the formula for what takes a person from talent to achievement, effort counts twice. Talent times effort equals skill. Then, skill times effort equals achievement. See how talent alone can fall short? 

If you don't have much talent, then you'll have to put in even more effort to develop skill.
The author makes a fascinating observation in the book that we as a society seem to be biased towards admiring the gifted and talented over those who succeeded through sheer effort. One reason for this may be that it's easier for us to feel good about ourselves when we are able to say, "Well, they are super successful because they were bestowed an incredible natural ability." 

Grit is a great book for you if you want to learn more about achievement and what drives it. If you'd like to take the Grit Scale, you can take it here. My grit score was 4.0.
Mind Your Own Business Podcast Debuts

The Growth Coach HQ team has created a new podcast that has now debuted on iTunes. It's called Mind Your Own Business and it's all about business ownership and success principles. The first few episodes do feature Growth Coaches (me included!), but it's not meant to be a commercial for our coaching services. Future episodes will feature guests that are not always coaches.
I think it's great that The Growth Coach is creating podcasts since the medium is really exploding. I talked about a few of the habits of highly effective owners in my episode. Another episode talks about work-life balance. You can find the podcast on SoundCloud, iTunes and soon, Stitcher. Each episode is in the 20-minute range. If you are able to catch my show, please do let me know what you think of it.
Don't Be Donnie Discounter

It's time for a new sales-related video that's up on my YouTube Channel. This clip talks about a trap that salespeople can fall in to and that's frequent discounting. Giving away extra services that should be charged for would also apply here. While it's good to be aggressive and seek to capture every sale opportunity, it's harmful to a business to discount regularly. It also doesn't bode well for a sales person to always walk with a crutch. Watch the video here. If you know a salesperson who's caught in this trap, please do share it with them.
The Bane of Small Business Existence

One of the banes of small business existence is figuring out the whole online marketing puzzle. It really is a Rubik's cube, isn't it? Well, here's one answer for you: unify your online listings to increase Google visibility and SEO strength. This is a tip for businesses that have a physical address. 

The fact is that many businesses have more than one way of listing their name and address. For example, my business address is listed as:

533 Airport Blvd., Suite 400, Burlingame, CA 94010
533 Airport Blvd., #400, Burlingame, CA 94010
533 Airport Blvd., Burlingame, CA 94010

I know they don't look that different, but trust me when I say that Google doesn't see these as the same. Updating your listings across 50 different sites on the internet can be a real time-consuming chore. Thanks to Moz Local for providing a way to automate the chore for just $84 for a one-year period. 

First, do a free analysis here to see if there are discrepancies across listings or ones that are incomplete (like the one missing my suite #). If you see room for improvement, then go forward and pay them the $84 for the valuable service of taking care of it for you. Another step towards online mastery will be complete. Let me know if you have any questions about this. I'll put you in touch with Ken who gets all this even better than I do.
Quote of the Issue

"Time only has value when it intersects with energy." - Jim Loehr 
Stat of the Issue

Airbnb had 3,000 listings in 2009. They now have 2.3 million. They're experiencing a 153% compound annual growth rate. They now have a market cap of 25.5 B, which is 25% more than Hilton. 
Source: SF Business Times. 
Summer's Here!

If you'd like to get great work done while also enjoying the season of relaxation, this recent blog post I contributed to might help. Read it here
And That's All Folks!

That's it for this issue. If just one idea has sparked something in you, it's made my job worth it. Enjoy the beginning of summer! 

Michael Neuendorff | The Growth Coach | 650.373.2022