We sat inside the library at Oheka Castle, the 127 room chateau-style estate in upstate New York, waiting for our first mentor to arrive. The five entrepreneurs sitting beside me, all winners of the most recent Shopify build a business competition, leveraged the ecommerce software to build high-revenue businesses in record time, beating thousands of other competing merchants.
The library door opened and in came our first mentor: Tony Robbins.
The iconic author, business owner and philanthropist, was the first of nine mentors to arrive. Standing at 6’7, his frame towered over the rest of us. His physical height captivated us, but the heights he’s reached in his storied career did even more so. Over the next two hours, Tony shared a plethora of insights.
What follows are just a few of the many noteworthy bits of advice he shared.
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1. Great people know great people.
If you’re unsure where to look for the best new hire, just ask. Find the best person you could in the field you’re looking to hire, ask who’d they recommend and for them to outline the criteria you should look for.
2. Remember our six basic human needs.
We all need to feel a sense of certainty, uncertainty, significance and love as well as to experience growth and feel like we’re contributing. Most people specialize in two. You have to put people together who share those common needs.
3. A good candidate isn’t good enough.
Find someone who can do the job and the role is aligned with their long-term goals and reinforced the job. Once you have someone good who’s long-term goals align with the company, get the hell out of there way and let them work.
4. Be a business owner, not a business operator.
If you’re stressed about your business, you’re a business operator, not an owner. Once you stop working working, the business stops working. You have to be strategic and build something that can run without you.
5. Winners anticipate, losers react.
It’s not enough to do the right thing, you have to do it at the right time. There are traditional challenges and the key is getting to the people who’ve played the game before and know where the obstacles are so you can avoid them.
6. Forget profit. It’s all about cash.
Yes, you need an accountant or a CPA who can tell you your profits, but remember that profit is just an accounting theory. What you really need is a CFO who can interpret all that data into practical metrics that matter (like cash).
7. Remember the Mel Fisher story.
For 17 years Mel Fisher searched for gold with zero positive feedback. Despite that, every day he worked to find it. He did this because he knew (1) the gold was out there (2) he knew he would find it and he (3) knew it would be worth it. Without those three components no business owner will persist for long enough.
Related: Tony Robbins’ Secret to Abundance
8. Turn down opportunities.
If you’re smart, you’ll have so many opportunities come your way. You have to be disciplined enough to not spread yourself too thin too fast, because than nothing will be strong. Irrespective of how good of an entrepreneur you are.
9. Identify your ideal client.
If you don’t know exactly who your customer is, to the point where you could spot them on the street, you aren’t targeting deep enough.
10. Get raving fans beat satisfied customers.
A satisfied customer is just that: satisfied. Not They might come back, they might not. A raving fan is someone who’s been floored by the level of service received to the point where they can’t stop telling other people about it.
11. Give the 80/20 treatment.
Back when I ran my gold grills brand, I had customers from dozens of countries, but 80 percent came from four southern states. I sold a dozens of products but four of my grills — namely, my gold bottom grill and rose gold grill — accounted for 80 percent of sales. Determine key areas to focus on and attack them.
12. Exercise altruism.
There is a myth that we act solely in our own self-interest. The truth is we act more so to help others than to help ourselves. You know to set business goal (duh), but it’s important to set an ambitious altruistic goal to help motivate you further still.