Advice from a successful entrepreneur

Brent’s aunt and uncle are two of my favorite people in Arizona.

You know how you just sort of ‘click’ with someone? That happened with Ann almost instantly, and Robbie too. It sounds childish, but I guess you never grow out of wanting the grown ups to take you seriously, and both of them do. They ask thoughtful questions in an attempt to get to know you or whatever you’re talking about better.

Robbie came over for dinner the other night. Ann couldn’t make it because she was recovering from a really intense hike in the Grand Canyon.

I told him I just bought an Arizona LLC, and he started asking what I do.

I explained it — marketing, that’s what I do. I help entrepreneurs set up a marketing system that, after a brief period of intense work, runs on autopilot and brings in email subscribers and more money.

He asked who I was targeting.

Entrepreneurs who don’t yet have any marketers on staff but are willing to put in the time and effort to grow.

Then he gave a great piece of advice.

“Forget about a road map.”

He said trying to plan the next x years would only get in my way.

“If I had tried to follow a road map when I got started, there’s no way I would have gotten where I am today.”

“That’s great advice. Thank you.”

A side note: Robbie started a running store in the 70s when about 9 people were running marathons. His son (a very fine person too!) runs the store now. He started organizing charity runs before anyone else was. We take racing for cures for granted, but someone had to be the first to do those, and he was. So, to marry into a family with mentor like that is really wonderful. And he doesn’t talk about his business unless people ask, so advice only comes out in these rare instances.

Lat, my father-in-law, asked if I would help someone with a physical product do marketing. I said I didn’t have any experience with that, but it would depend on the situation.

That’s when this other gem came out:

“Whenever someone asked me to do something, I would say, “I don’t know that I can’t do that, so yes.”

“That first part I never said out loud, only to myself.”

It was what I needed to hear, and it helped ease my anxiety about not really knowing the path I’m taking.

Put your head down.

Work hard.

Try things out.

Fall in love with the process, not the outcome.

Don’t follow a map, because you’re going into uncharted territory so the mapmakers can’t help you.

Be open to new directions.

Follow whims that light you up.

Advice that he gave non-verbally: Stay curious

Keep an open mind.

So many of us form an opinion about something, then ask questions that are slanted so the answer confirms our opinion. That’s not a great way to learn.

Case in point: board games. We play a lot of board games, and Nate (Robbie’s son) and his wife Christine started getting into them after we introduced them to this nerdy world a couple years ago.

Robbie doesn’t understand.

So he asked questions.

His other son, Sam, is now into board games too. (See, the world of board gaming is addictive!)

Where do you play them? Are there places in public where people come together and play games? What kind of tables do they have?

Never once did he ask, “what, so you ran out of cool-person things to do with your time?”

In fact, after that conversation, I couldn’t tell you what his opinion of board games was.

I’m extrapolating, but I bet staying curious and not forming opinions about things you don’t know is a great way to live your life.

Getting people to talk about the things that light them up makes for an enriching dinner table conversation.

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