Let’s be frank: no Degree or a specialized course can fully prepare first-time startup founders for what they are really about to face. We’re talking about challenges with team members, partners, funding, sleepless nights, uncertainty, high-stake decision-making… you name it. For that reason and to support those on the entrepreneurial journey, the Productivity Mastery podcast hosts a wide variety of guests, among whom are the CEOs, Founders, and Team Leaders of some of the most successful companies across Europe, and beyond. Thanks to them sharing their personal experiences and learnings – sometimes learned the hard way, we have picked 10 of these valuable lessons to help you on your journey as well.
Enjoy reading and stay #productive!
1. Don’t let money be your only driver
Though the image of driving a Porsche wearing a Versace suit (well, along these lines) might be tempting for every other startup founder, you should never let money be your only source of motivation. Because, believe us, making money comes with more responsibilities. And if you don’t have a more profound drive, you’ll sooner or later lose interest, and burn out.
This lesson is from episode #19 with Samantha Yarwood, an international Speaker & MC, with a background as Chief Marketing, Innovation, and Inspiration Officer.
2. Create an authentic personal brand
Mindfully creating a personal brand goes a long way as it translates and communicates your authentic self, builds trust in your audience, and also helps you grow your network more successfully. In the Digital Era, most brands tend to lack authenticity, and that is something the public is craving for.
Ryan Foland, a speaker and author of Ditch the Act, was our guest on Productivity Mastery’s episode #85. According to Ryan, when you start to build your personal brand, you have to ask yourself the question: “What do I want to be known for?” He shared some practical tools and ways to find out how people perceive you and how you can use “the surprising power of the real you”.
3. Consider a mastermind group
Sometimes, being at the top of your company might not only feel challenging but also lonely. Despite that, don’t forget you are not the only person going through this. Maja Voje, a Founder and Best-Selling Instructor & Podcaster, suggests that you try organizing or joining a mastermind group. You can gather and share with other founders the problems you are currently facing, receive advice, give support, have accountability checks, and give each other tailored feedback.
Speaking of mastermind groups, we advise you to check out Samodiva Mastermind, an organization our host, Stoyan Yankov, is part of. They bring together leaders from all over the world for mastermind groups, summits, and retreats in a beautiful location surrounded by breathtaking mountains!
4. Write down your goals
What is a plan without specific goals? Sounds simple, but you would be surprised at how easy it is to forget to write them down! You need to keep your goals in front of you in order to maximize the chances for them to become reality by your diligent input toward the plan execution. Seeing the North Star, eh?
Brian Mayne, the creator of Goal Mapping, shared this takeaway from the Harvard survey where students were asked how many of them have clearly written down goals for their future. Only 3% of them had positive answers, and 20 years later the very same 3% of the students were way more successful achieving them than their former classmates! The lesson? Never underestimate actually writing down your goals.
5. Remember about prioritization
In the process of running a business, it is easy to be pulled in many directions and lose sight of the whole picture. Again and again, every day brings new ideas, new challenges, and more tasks, not to mention juggling your personal life on top of that. To stay on top of the game, one really important tool might come in handy here, and it’s called #Prioritisation. Create a habit to prioritize your time, and have a clear picture of what really matters when it comes to adding that one more thing to your already-packed to-do list.
6. Prepare a good value proposition
If you play your cards right, you might soon be finding yourself preparing to pitch for a big corporation. However, working on this level has its own specifics, and the episode with Zoltan A. Vardy is just what you need in order to better understand that specific game. Zoltan is a startup mentor who helps B2B tech startups scale their sales globally by applying his framework called The Launch Code ™. In this episode, he explained the way big corporations think compared to startup founders and shared a fantastic insight about what a superb value proposition and product offering looks like. Give it a listen!
7. Put your team in the front
The team plays an enormous role in any company’s success. As a leader of your team, you should not only be authentic and create a genuine connection with the people you work with, but also encourage and support them to step up and be more in the front. This is a vital part of the process of building a success-driven community. But you, the leader, have to inspire, encourage, and empower the move.
8. Create a winning culture
As a leader, you’re setting the tone of the company. Optimism, authenticity, and ambition are part of a winning culture. And this can-do attitude truly attracts people and makes them want to be even more involved in the company, and contribute with their skills, interests, and expertise.
Moreover, it is essential to study the best founders in the world case by case and learn from the best in the industry. In episode #69, Stoyan interviewed one of the giants in the sports apparel industry, the founder of Reebok, Joe Foster. Throughout the episode, he shares the untold story of building this iconic global brand. You can also read about it in-depth in his latest book, the Shoemaker.
9. Obtain an abundance mindset
As Lydia puts it – mindset is everything. If you aim to crush your fears and follow your goals, dreams and desires, you have to invest in yourself and establish the right mindset on that journey – for that journey. Investment in your personal growth is life-changing, so you might truly benefit from adopting a mindset that does not look at the money spent as an expense in its traditional sense when it comes to paying for a course, a book, or hiring a coach – it’s rather for the massive benefit of your future self that will thank you later.
Watching this short episode highlight video, may you be encouraged by Lydia Hurlbut, the CEO of the Filmmakers Academy. Her husband, the Hollywood DOP Shane Hurlbut, ASC, was also a guest in one of our episodes. The couple is tremendously inspiring with their mission to educate young filmmakers and the highly caring and mindful approach to the work in a high-paced, high-stakes industry that film production is.
10. Remember your very beginnings
Last but not least, never lose this picture of yourself from those days when you were only dreaming about your startup business. Preserve this feeling of the “good old days” and let it be your compass when you have to make big decisions. Why did you start? What is the core purpose of what you do? Tap into it.
Jamshid Alamuti is the Founder and CEO at Neural Jam, House of Creative Entrepreneurship. In this highly inspiring episode with Jamshid, we dove into the topic of how you can unleash your creative genius – something that many founders often struggle with. Tune in and spark your creativity!
These were our Top 10 Lessons for Founders, provided by the lessons and learnings of our incredible guests. With over 97 podcast episodes to date, we are still amazed by the fascinating stories they share and the tools, tips, and hacks we can learn from them.
Stay tuned, and we will see you around!