The following is a guest post from AARP's Regional Vice President, Rawle Andrews Jr. He is also an attorney, boomer rights advocate, motivational speaker and moderator, and recently spoke to a group of small business owners about thriving in today's Digital Age where he shared his Seven Keys to Victory in the business world in 2014 and beyond. He reflected upon this discussion further as it applies to everyone:
I wrote much of this blog sitting on trains up and down the Mid-Atlantic, or on airplanes bound to and from the Industrial Midwest. When you work my beat you get see some pretty rough patches in some of our nation's toughest states, cities and communities; including Baltimore, Detroit, and Newark. Even amidst what some might consider the bleakest circumstances, however, the Sun still rises, shines and then sets. Everyday, people are getting up, going to (or looking for) work, finding ways to put food on the table, sending their children and grandchildren to school, and look for a higher purpose in their lives. Is it a peaches and cream existence? No, in some cases far from it. And yet, there is no surrender.
To paraphrase a co worker, "Rawle, I am inspired--but I'm still not satisfied."
I am unwilling to surrender or suspend a belief that we, as citizens of the world, can break free of the status quo; mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually to reinvent the Dream that meets our rapidly evolving wants and needs in the new normal that some call the Age of Possibilities. I hold firmly to this conviction not out of some psychic or surrealistic connection to a bygone era, but rather because the essential ingredients for America's renewal and revival are embedded in her DNA: (1) an abiding belief in something bigger and more profound than oneself; (2) an inherent sense of community, no matter how large or small - that we can do is much more together to perfect this Union than we can as individuals; and (3) a profound sense of urgency that underscores the notion that when "can do better even on our best days. The underlying questions is whether we have the will and the patience to reinvent the Dream across communities -- block-by-block and, in some cases, brick-by-brick if that's what it takes. The answer is: maybe. If you are the kind of person or you want to be the kind of person who makes things happen rather than simply watches things happen, you can thrive in this New Age of Possibilities. The status quo, however, is not nearly enough to get you to victory. You need some keys to unlock these opportunities.
Some of these keys will look, feel, and sound new to you. The others are tried and true principles that you either have forgotten or discarded like any other allegedly outdated technology. Either way, it is time to claim your victory and start unlocking the doors to opportunity and purpose.
(Click the "speaker" button in the upper-left corner of each video below for sound, and click anywhere on each video to pause/play:)
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Here they are--your Seven Keys to Victory for 2014 and beyond:
Key #1: Dreamers Wanted.
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We have to keep the Dream alive by preserving the Real Possibilities, even if you have to light a candle because all else has gone dark around you. Our dreams for our businesses and our lives are possible only if others (i.e., our families, friends, clients, members, investors, managers, employees, etc.) believe that we truly believe in our own dreams. The Moment and The Momentum dies without you.
Key #2: Nobody Reads.
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Believe it or not, nobody reads in this Digital Age, despite the fact that we have more access to data than any man, woman or child who has ever walked the earth. Sure--we skim, we browse, we peruse. But, we are not reading--in part because things seem to be moving so fast that we just can't make the time. This is part of the new Normal in the Age of Possibilities. Are you still writing tombs, mega PowerPoint decks or paying someone else to draft manifestos that look and feel like "War and Peace?" Or, have you and your teams started building the next app, YouTube video or eye-catching, punchy e-newsletter that makes someone else's job or life easier? Never forget that if folks are not looking, listening and relying on you to help them get informed and stay informed about the things that and happening to their businesses and, in many instances, their personal lives you are on the road to Irrelevance.
Key #3: Take Care of Yourself.
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We can't demand achievement or expect excellence if we are consistently operating at less than 100 percent. As you read this blog entry, I already know that because of your dedication and commitment to whatever takes priority in your life now that you are canceling doctors' visits, etc. Stop it! If you go down, who is going to be here to run things? Who will shape and mold the Vision, the strategies, the tactics for the agency in this New Normal if you go down? So, today, for the short term, take an hour--just an hour--to do something for yourself after you finish reading this. It doesn't matter what it is, just make a little time to celebrate you. In the long term: stop procrastinating and start making plans. In writing, for aging, disability and the hereafter (i.e., wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc). 2014 is Our Year. Let's Roll!
Key #4: Pump the Brakes.
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Here's some "straight talk" - no chaser, folks. Hear me and hear me well. You cannot simply work through or wait out this New Normal. To seize your chips in this New Age of Possibilities, you have to take a step back and recalibrate your internal GPS. Where are you in your business or personal life today? "Steady as a rock," you might say. Well, consider this prospect: If your main client contact were to walk out the door tomorrow, long-term agreement or not, is that piece of business really secure? All businesses have challenges and crossroads. You do remember Borders, Kodak, and Pan Am Airlines, don't you? Sit down, conduct an honest self-assessment, and then realistically adjust the plan to meet today's realities and tomorrow's opportunities.
Key #5: Don't Leave Money on the Table.
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The opportunities to win are there, but are we seizing them in real time? A lot of folks are talking about the Affordable Care Act and the botched launch of its website. It would be funny if it wasn't so serious. But as we engage in these conversations and debates ourselves, are we having the right conversations? What about our own websites? In fact, some of our businesses need a website (or presence on social media), but still don't have one. Others have a site that has been under construction so long, you missed "Y2K!" Finally, the rest of us haven't visited our own sites for so long the info either is outdated or too busy for anyone to make good use of It. Get back online! Visit your own site! Do it today. Do you even like what you see? How far has your business evolved or strayed from what you indicated you would be doing? If you're not satisfied, think about how they feel about you and your site. Recalibrate that GPS. The times are changing, but the rules haven't: Preparation. Performance. Results. Period.
Key #6: Bring Your "A Game."
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"Coulda, woulda, shoulda" does NOT win championships! Are you still wooing that existing client base with same time, talent and enthusiasm that you were when we were trying to get the business? Who's feeding your cash cows? If we expect achievement--if we demand Excellence--if we want VICTORY--nothing less than our very best is good enough. The formula for success is one part "What," and at least two parts "How." There are five Rights needed to prevent a business Wrong: 1. Right People; 2. In the Right Places; 3. Doing the Right Things; 4. At the Right Times; and 5. At the Right Costs. Don't mail it in or take it for granted. We never know when that "Magic Minute" will pass us by...forever. And the final key to victory...
Key #7: Just Win the Week.
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Stop going for all the home runs and Hail Marys. Stay focused and finish the job at hand...one week at a time. Remember now that Victory is not guaranteed, and it doesn't grow on trees. We are not the Harlem Globetrotters, so we can't script success. You have to prepare to win the week and then execute. Then, you have to take a step back and assess how you performed. When you win, pause briefly to relish the milestone but don't get carried away. When you lose, be honest about it. Again, briefly reflect about where things went wrong and the be courageous enough to make the adjustments needed, if necessary, to win next week. When combined together, and tweaked occasionally, these keys can and will open the doors to Victory for you in the new normal. What you do once you enter the door is entirely your decision. Just remember to focus and finish.
Rawle Andrews Jr. can be found on Twitter at @RAndLaw. He can also be reached by email at email@example.com.