7 Ways Entrepreneurs Stay Successful During A Crisis


6 weeks ago you entrepreneurs didn’t even know what an R0 was or what “flattening the curve” meant. These days you could write a dissertation on Coronavirus.

You know what that’s called?

Borrowed Wisdom.

You’ve listened to the experts. You followed directions. You’ve read up on everything you can get your hands on. You’ve got your face masks, your hand sanitizers, your soap and you are physically distancing. Excellent work.

Now let’s borrow some wisdom from some thought leaders in other fields to keep your head in the game and your feet on the ground.

“I wouldn’t give a fig for simplicity on the near side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the far side of complexity.”

—Oliver Wendell Holmes

What does that mean?

Simplicity without understanding a complex situation is just cutting corners. But simplifying a complex and well-understood problem is worth its weight in gold.

It’s taking the mobile phone and turning it into the iPhone.

It’s turning horse power into horsepower.

We are all facing a deeply complex problem. How do we keep our businesses and lives going when the world is shutting down?

Using the work that others have done in order to solve your own problems is the principle of Borrowed Wisdom. So let’s borrow some much needed wisdom right now.

Below are 7 principles borrowed from thought leaders. Borrow their wisdom and discover some simple solutions that others have discovered on the far side of complexity.

Related Post: How Great Entrepreneurs Make Decisions During Pandemics 
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Related Post: What Entrepreneurs Find Most Challenging About Pandemics

The Principle of Second Place

My dear friend, Harvey MacKay, taught me the principle of second place. Being in second ( or third, or fourth, or…) place means you are more available to those customers you’re trying to win over.

“When you’re only No. 2, you try harder.”

This was a brilliant bit of copywriting by Paula Green at the ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach.

In 1962 Avis car rental needed a new advertising campaign. It had been #2 to Hertz since its beginning and it wanted a change. Paula Green embraced that sentiment and leaned into it.

Avis was #2 and it wanted to do anything it could to be #1, including try harder for its customers.

So what does this mean for you?

While you’ve got some time on your hands, assess where you are in your market. How visible are you to your customers? What can you do that others aren’t right now? How can you reach out to them?

It may not be as obvious as telling your customers you’re #2 and you want to be their #1.

Right now is a good time to study where your market needs some help. Where there are holes in service or a lack of value. And figure out strategies fill that gap.

And the best strategies are always the most simple ones…on the far side of complexity;)

The Principle of the Rule of Five 

limit your To-Do list to five actions. These days it is so easy to get caught up in trying to do it all in one day.

You’ve got to call your mortgage company, find your company’s lease agreement, figure out your school’s new technology systems and make…every. single. meal.

You cannot do all of this in one day.

Another dear friend of mine, Jack Canfield, taught me his Rule of Five. Limit your actions to five actions a day. And then let it go.

After writing Chicken Soup for the Soul with Mark Victor Hansen, they couldn’t get the book published. They were rejected again and again and again.

So they took things into their own hands and made a commitment to each other to get the book into the hands of five new people of influence a day. They did that for 16 months straight! They finally got a publisher, then it became a bestseller and the rest, of course…

Preserve your inner resources and protect your confidence by limiting how much you tackle in a day. Take one major project, break it into 5 doable activities a day and go until that list is complete.

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Related Post: How Great Entrepreneurs Make Decisions During Pandemics 
Related Post: How To Avoid Overwhelm in the Time of Corona 
Related Post: What Entrepreneurs Find Most Challenging About Pandemics

The Principle of Projection

The first time I met T. Harv Eker was many years ago when I was emceeing an event he was speaking and training at. When he got off the stage I remember saying to him, “Harv, I was really impressed, actually stunned, at how much you care for your students. Do they know what they have?”

Years later, I asked Harv why he had hired me all those years ago after meeting me? He said, “the first time we met, you told me how impressed you were with the way I trained. And you noticed how much I cared for my students. Well, I consider that projection. If you spot it, you got it. You could see how much I care because that’s how much you were going to care if I hired you.”

Conversely, if someone annoys you, it might be an indication to look inside yourself and figure out why that person annoys you. Are they doing something you do that you don’t like about yourself?

The Principle of Projection is about using the world around you as a mirror to see what is and isn’t working in yourself. Do you have the guts to be that honest with yourself?

You can use this principle in business with great results. You look around at the companies and thought leaders you most admire. Figure out what you admire most about them and then copy that. Borrowed wisdom.

Buried in all the fear, overwhelm and new realities of this pandemic are opportunities. And one of those opportunities is the chance to do a little soul- searching, and a little paradigm-shifting.

Find out what’s working for you and discard what isn’t.

The Principle of POV Problem Solving

We gotta lotta problems dese days.

Instead of getting overwhelmed with the amount and complexity of said problems, we can use these principles to solve them. And another great tool is POV Problem- Solving.

This principle comes from my friend Bob Proctor. One day I asked him, point blank, “How do you solve problems?” This is what he told me…

First he writes the problem down on a piece of paper. One way to reach the far side of complexity is to simply take a bird’s eye view of your problem. When you write something down you’re forcing your brain to simplify all the ideas in your head and crystallize your thoughts into some sort of cohesion.

Writing down the problem gets it on paper, gets it crystallized and clarifies what it is and what it isn’t.

Next, take another blank piece of paper and draw a square and divide the square into 4 quadrants.

At the top of the first quadrant write, “What will happen if I do this to solve the problem?”

In the second quadrant write, “What won’t happen if I do this to solve the problem?”

In the third quadrant write, “What will happen if I don’t do this to solve the problem?”

In the fourth write, “What won’t happen if I don’t do this to solve the problem?”

Now ask each of these questions for each of your possible solutions to the problem.

These sound like a bunch of brain teasers. And they are.

These questions are designed to force your brain into unknown territory and out of complacency. You can use a problem to build new pathways in your brain.

And through this process you can and most often do find solutions you would have never thought of without this kind of mental stimulation.

Look, for many of us, all we have is time right now, which is a gift we are begging for more of, in any other time. So don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Use that time to create new strategies for yourself.

Implement some new tools and principles borrowed from really successful people who’ve surmounted some incredible odds.

The Principle of Reason Why

I once had the good fortune of interviewing Larry King at his home for 4 hours. He is a wonderful storyteller. And he’s a master interviewer. He’s done over 5,000 interviews.

He told me something I’ll never forget. He said that someone once asked him, “What’s the most important question you ask as an interviewer?”

He thought, and replied, “You know what? The most important question I ever ask is, ‘why?’”

Why did someone take the action they took, or didn’t take a certain action.

I’ve done this as an interviewer myself. I allow my curiosity to take the reins in interviews. And I like to keep asking ‘why’ until I get a sufficient answer. Now, in interviews I’m polite and only push as much as I can get away with.

But if you’re using this principle on yourself have the courage to continue asking yourself ‘why’ while you’re problem-solving. The answers and root causes will astonish you.

The Principle of Engagement

I’ve interviewed Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, twice. I did one of my first visual book tours with him when he wrote his book Delivering Happiness. He taught me the principle of engagement.

Zappos’ customer service is not based on up-selling, down-selling or cross-selling. it’s not based on selling. Zappos’ customer service mission is…engagement.

Tony didn’t care if his customer service reps stayed on the phone with a customer for 10, 15 or 20 minutes. He wanted to place engagement as a premium above profits. And guess what? it shows.

Talk to your customers. Share a joke with them. Exchange ideas. Take feedback. Console them, whether it’s about your product or not. Just engage with your customers in whatever way works for them.

Apply this kind of thinking to your own customer or client base. What does that do to the way you think about your customers?

There is no better time to use the Principle of Engagement than during this pandemic. When will you ever find eye-to-eye consensus on a myriad of issues more than now?

So many millions upon millions of us are facing the same dire issues. We can all console, commiserate and cajole with a little gallows humor now more than ever.

So use the Principle of Engagement to move a little closer to your customers and clients. A move that could payoff in customers for life.

The Principle of Grit

grit (noun): courage and resolve; strength of character.

Now let me describe the true definition of grit for you.

I was blessed with the opportunity of interviewing Muhammad Ali in his home. He told me a great story. Someone once asked him, “Hey Champ, how many push-ups can you do?”

He replied, “Sever or eight.”

“Seven or eight? You’re the Champ! You’ve got to be able to do more push-ups than seven or eight.”

Ali said, “I can do seven or eight when I feel I absolutely can’t do one more.”

That response was earned on the far side of complexity. Muhammad Ali spent a lifetime honing his body, his mind and his skill set as a boxer to dig down deep and find 7 or 8 more push-ups when he didn’t think he could do one more.

That is the true definition of grit.

Do you have the trust in yourself to find 7 or 8 more push-ups, solutions, answers, or resources when you think you’ve run out?

If you have that trust and that grit you can find simplicity on the far side of complexity.

The Wrap Up

Stay prepared. Stay alert. Stay loose. Enjoy the ride as much as you can.

Seek simplicity on the far side of complexity by digging down deep inside yourself. Cultivate that grit to stay in the game and succeed.

How do you do that?

  • Discover the power of second place, try just a little harder than the next gal
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on a given problem
  • Project what you are seeking
  • View the problem from as many points of view as you can
  • Have the courage to keep asking yourself ‘why’
  • Engage as a practice, not a means to an end
  • Cultivate true grit in yourself. When you can’t do 1 more, do 8 more

The world, life, your family, your business are all asking more from you than you think you have the capacity for right now. Stun them all by digging in and giving more than you ever thought you had in you. Because you do.

You got this. And if there’s one moment in history that will teach you what you have inside of you, it’s this one.

I know you. You’re just like me;) I’m doing a little projecting here. But I believe in you. You have the power to overcome. You have the courage to meet simplicity on the far side of complexity.

Dig. Down. Deep.

Would you like a list of more incredible influencers? Click here to get a list of the world’s most powerful influencers and see how they are keeping on keeping on right now.

What’s the bravest moment you’ve had during this time?

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