Paper Napkin Wisdom - Podcast and Blog for Entrepreneurs, Leaders and Difference-Makers

I've asked 1000s of the worlds top Entrepreneurs, Leaders, and Difference-Makers to share with me their most important pearl of wisdom on a simple paper napkin. Then I ask them to have a conversation about why they shared that Paper Napkin Wisdom with me and what it meant to them and for them in their life. Visit for full show notes and archives. Learn their exceptional Stories of Drive, Impact, Balance and Leadership shared by CEOs, founders, authors, speakers, mentors, and teachers. They share successes and failures alike, paying forward their learning experiences to all of us.
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Sep 19, 2017

To scale a business, we need to care about others more than we care about ourselves. The challenge is that we need to care about strangers (e.g. customers, suppliers, vendors, partners, bankers, even employees) - people you don’t really know.

As entrepreneurs and leaders, we often take on the burden pressure from everyone around us and put it on our shoulders. In order to be of value, we need to do that transparently and openly. On the other side, we need to be really committed to outcomes, results, and delivering a value to strangers.

If we build systems around that commitment to value, then we can hit the scale paradox.

When you think about your journey and your business, can you say that the person on the other side knows - not thinks – knows that you care? If you can’t, then they don’t.

You bring something unique to the game. Don’t forget that every time you’re on the way to new, it will be scary, but fear opens the door to learning and the opportunity to be transparent. Strangers who are most aligned with your mission and understand why you do what you do will support who you are, if you show up transparently and they know you care more about them than you do about yourself.


Let’s work together to make this year the best one yet.

I want to help you. Please go to and sign up, we'll send you the e-book that contains the secret structure that will build more scalable, even exponential results than you had thought possible.

You have so much to give, you had better start now.

Take Action is a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, and the focus is on the small, 1% improvements we can make in our businesses and lives. Small changes make a big difference!

This podcast will help you make small changes that will change your world, so we can together save the world one entrepreneur and small business at a time!

Based on The Book Paper Napkin Wisdom: Your 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success ? get yours now on Amazon or at Paper Napkin Wisdom.


Sep 19, 2017

In today’s podcast, avid readers Govindh Jayaraman, entrepreneur and host of Paper Napkin Wisdom, and James Ashcroft, entrepreneur and mentor at EO Accelerator Meetings, discuss Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson, legendary winning coach of the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers.

Though neither is particularly a basketball fan, both loved the book and highly recommend it. They recognize that “eleven rings” refer less about championship rings and more about a bond between players; it’s a circle of love that gets amazing results. Both feel that the book’s honest style and the lessons garnered can directly apply to personal and professional life, lessons in leadership for any team endeavor.

Key inspirational themes they found in Eleven Rings:

  • Lead from the inside out. Phil Jackson took athletes with tremendous talent and egos and provided a structure so they could be creative, while creating a bond, a recipe for team success. Jackson helped his players grow individually and grow together into something bigger than themselves, which could be a story about any management culture.
  • Find the joy in your work. Phil Jackson, they said, “clearly has a joy. It’s inspirational that someone finds the river of joy within themselves, to say, what I’m best at, what my calling is, to extract the best from these young men in a team environment. That congruence is extremely powerful.”
  • Delegate authority as much as possible. Jackson felt that was the most effective approach to build everyone’s leadership skills, unity, and help others to grow. He created space for his teams to figure it out, and didn’t make a lot of calls from the bench. He trusted them and didn’t claim to always have the right answer. As Michael Jordan said, the “team’s collective think power” was their hallmark of success. Obsessing about winning is a losers’ game. Create the best possible conditions for success and let go of the outcome.
  • Turn the mundane into the sacred. Jackson thought teaching spirituality to his men was the biggest part of the job. The lesson for Govindh and James? “When we commit higher sense of self, self-discipline, collective discipline, we can achieve way, way more.”
  • Lead with compassion. Phil Jackson bent his style to the individual player (think of Dennis Rodman). Practices were sacred ground where players could just be themselves. Jackson’s goal as a coach was to foster an environment where the players could grow as individuals and express themselves creatively within a team structure. Govindh and James agree, “whether it’s a coach, leader, father, husband, friend, don’t we want to achieve that with and for each other?”
  • Among other explorations, Jackson used music to help his teams and had them coordinate their actions in 4/4 time. The team synchronized, each attuned to the hidden language they had, playing together. Beat by beat they harmonized with each other. Jovindh and James see this as the learning for companies: “If they fall out of stride, out of rhythm it’s a big issue for a company’s leaders. There is rhythm, harmony we need to maintain within the organization. When we break it, nobody knows where to be.” If the tempo is dragging or the players out of key, the music becomes noise. “Music and rhythm and momentum, the energy that it takes for a sports team or business to continue and work together and bring as many people into that ecosystem as you can, that is success.”


Sep 14, 2017

Best-selling author, world renowned customer service expert, founder of the DiJulius Group, business success – John DiJulius III has tapped into something special. On this podcast, John discusses applying his methodology beyond business, and why his life purpose is to “live an extraordinary life, so that others will.”

Stating your purpose isn’t enough. You have to deliver what you say and what you declare happen. “We all have seeds of potential,” John asserts, “and the seeds of potential that we don’t grow to their fullest potential...cheats all the people that are dependent on us.” Many people just say that they want to live an extraordinary life, but they don’t do the things that can get them there.

John reveals why he tells his employees, “I don’t want your best…,” while sharing inspirational tips and perspectives. “When each of us chose to be...a leader, we gave up the right to make excuses.” Their best is not needed. The only thing that is needed from an individual is to make a difference.

For John, his personal purpose statement is there “to remind me of my obligation,” in both his professional and personal life. Whether dealing with business colleagues or family and loved ones, it’s always important to remember those who work behind the scenes to help with a leader’s success, and to never run over them.

Sep 7, 2017

Everything worthwhile is hard to do. Being a better parent, a better leader, a better entrepreneur, or build a better business mode. Everything.

The reason? They’re enormously simple. The strategy and idea behind great things is simplicity, and they're worthwhile because you understand them and their value. 

For example: admitting when you’re wrong – in real time. This is hard to do. It’s elusive, worthwhile and the right thing to do but it’s hard. Simplicity and how easy it is to do aren’t the same thing. Simple doesn’t mean easy. The path to simplicity goes through complexity, and it can be very challenging to find focus and deliver that elusive thing.

That’s what entrepreneurs do – we deliver that elusive value, that’s only doable by you.

Being yourself is simple. But rare, particularly in challenging circumstances. But it can reap great rewards. Recently, we were launching a new product and were asked by a customer – a big customer we needed – how many other clients are you working with that we can join in with? We admitted we had none: a simple thing to do, but rare. The client was so impressed that they immediately decided they wanted to work with us, because we were doing something new and exciting.

So, yes, everything worthwhile is hard to do, but can reap great rewards.


Let’s work together to make this year the best one yet.

I want to help you. Please go to and sign up, we'll send you the e-book that contains the secret structure that will build more scalable, even exponential results than you had thought possible.

You have so much to give, you had better start now.

Take Action is a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, and the focus is on the small, 1% improvements we can make in our businesses and lives. Small changes make a big difference!

This podcast will help you make small changes that will change your world, so we can together save the world one entrepreneur and small business at a time!

Based on The Book Paper Napkin Wisdom: Your 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success ? get yours now on Amazon or at Paper Napkin Wisdom.

Sep 6, 2017

“Great leaders set high expectations for their teams, but even higher expectations for themselves,” says Mandy Burage, Director of Operations at Petra Coach. She explains that through the course of her childhood and early career, she encountered many personal and professional disappointments stemming from the fact that she set very high expectations for herself, while others did not set the same expectations for themselves, and as a result, team successes were adversely impacted. Later, Mandy realized that when leaders, especially entrepreneurs, set high expectations for the team, and even higher goals for themselves, it leads to success.

“When recruiting and hiring, I look for team players who possess motivation and high expectations,” says Mandy. “However, they also must be self-starters who follow through on tasks without needing to be ‘managed’ constantly. If a team member can’t fulfill their role independently, it slows the progress of every team member and hinders overall success.” Mandy also notes that collaboration is best when everyone brings something to the table.

True leaders have walked the walk. Hands on experience is a key element of being a good leader. “If I ask an employee to work late, or travel on a Saturday, they know that I also work late and travel on Saturdays.” Petra Coach succeeds because of a strong culture, with six core values that employees and candidates adhere to in the quest for success. One of the core values is Please and Thank You. Petra Coach teammates write and send thank you cards to one another. When employees are appreciated, and appreciate others, it increases morale, and fends off burnout.

DICS is also part of the Petra Coach culture. It is a big part of the way Mandy views herself professionally and personally, and how she operates as part of the Petra Coach team, as well as her home team (wife and mother). DISC stands for: Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C).

Learn more about great leaders leading great teams, with Mandy Burage, on this episode of Leading Behind the Scenes.

Aug 31, 2017

Being second in command is tricky terrain to navigate; just ask Adventure Links COO Adam Trautenberg.  Co-host, Miranda Barrett joins Govindh Jayaraman to get the inside scoop on how this COO takes charge of a demanding job that’s constantly in flux.

“The role is defined by the relationship with the CEO,” explains Adam. That relationship isn’t something that simply grew overnight. For him, “it was an organic experience…it built over time.” Trust is the most essential result of that developmental period. The two key components of their symbiosis involve him understanding his CEO’s vision, and, “her having the trust in me that I’ll get there.”

With trust, comes candor: “Mistakes are open and discussed.”  For Adam and his CEO, it’s about finding solutions, not pointing fingers. “She’s not going to scream and yell, or fire me, or threaten to fire me…It’s a really honest and open communication line.” However, that doesn’t protect him from political pitfalls. 

COOs often find themselves, for better or for worse, as the liaison between the CEO and the rest of the company. “If you cover too much for the CEO…you can lose a little bit of the trust of the team.” It’s a fine line that only a few have the balance to walk. 

So, what does it take to make a great COO? Adam quickly asserts, “Adaptability.” Apparently, there simply isn’t a normal day for him, which explains why, “there’s no job description for COO.”

Aug 31, 2017

The goal of Carey Anne Nadeau, founder of Open Data Nation, is to “bring expertise in open data and data science to bear on the most pressing urban issues.” What compelled her to start the company was that she “wanted something to exist that just didn’t exist.” She was frustrated, dissatisfied, and complaining. The industry tended to be a “boys’ club,” and she experienced this firsthand when she was getting paid significantly less than a male peer. “The structures that already existed were not supportive to my growth,” she says. When told by a friend she should just “do it herself” she found the inspiration to start her own business. She chose to focus on using data science for societal benefit – to improve health and safety in cities – and become a female role model.

At one point, her entire company was female. This did not occur intentionally, but because it was mostly women who were motivated to do data statistics for the betterment of our society. Hence the title, “the future is female.” Carey Anne sees “a lot of opportunity for women to have a greater role. When they do, businesses see a lot of benefits.”

However, because her industry is still a “boys’ club,” Carey Anne is very aware of how she can be perceived. When she meets with new clients, talks about her value proposition, and lets her audience know she’s an MIT data scientist and city planner, they are often taken aback. Their reaction is, “What? That can’t be.” Knowing that have people have questioned or doubted a young, female entrepreneur’s standing in the industry, she suggests that one be very aware of people’s possible predispositions with respect to race, age, ethnicity, etc. – even whether a man has a beard.  

Carey Anne sees data’s role in business as helping think about, anticipate, and prepare for the future, not just as means of reviewing the past. For example, she will ask clients, “What pain points are you overwhelmed with?” to gain an understanding of how to get ahead of the problem.

Carey Anne does believe “the future is female,” but she is not saying the future is not male. It is not a zero-sum game. In her own experience, her male and female advisors offer divergent, but complementary, business-building help and insights. Where men are very focused on the current business and have opened boardroom doors, women have pushed more aggressively about how to make money. They “are really scrappy, looking for another angle, they don’t pigeonhole,” she says. At the same time, it is often a female characteristic to offer love, appreciation and support, and Carey Anne hopes that men, too, see themselves as “examples for others in the way we can all live our lives with more love and more happiness.”

Aug 28, 2017

So many people who talk about living an abundant lifestyle. It’s a big subject, particularly when you’re not feeling abundant. When you are at the top of the cycle, having big wins, everything fills our buckets. But at the bottom of the cycle, where there are no wins and things don’t happen, we don’t feel abundant.

When we’re at bottom of the cycle, we must realize that abundance and the path to abundance starts with one. Just one small win, one small act of kindness. What we focus on, act on, align with, and measure will get done and come into our lives.

One thing can become many when we focus on it. What we focus on becomes true. What we spend our time on gets bigger. Where your attention goes, your focus goes. So abundance starts with one.

Think of one thing that went right today - why did it go right? What did you contribute? Think of one time you led someone to a higher and better result, one time you coached someone, one time you made a connection, and how it all came together.

The reverse is true too: when you focus on one bad thing, it becomes everything. So make that one right thing the center of your focus. Because abundance starts with one.

Let’s work together to make this year the best one yet.

I want to help you. Please go to and sign up, we’ll send you the e-book that contains the secret structure that will build more scalable, even exponential results than you had thought possible.

You have so much to give, you had better start now.

Take Action is a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, and the focus is on the small, 1% improvements we can make in our businesses and lives. Small changes make a big difference!

This podcast will help you make small changes that will change your world, so we can together save the world one entrepreneur and small business at a time!

Based on The Book Paper Napkin Wisdom: Your 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success ? get yours now on Amazon or at Paper Napkin Wisdom.

Subscribe to both our podcasts Paper Napkin Wisdom and to Take Action by Paper Napkin Wisdom now.

Aug 28, 2017

In this week’s Leading Behind the Scenes, Marlou Hermsen makes the case (without laughing) that those who wish for a better world should seek to, “CHANGE the world without being a smug twat.” If the statement makes you smile, and does not offend, it means you’re probably on the right track, because, as Marlou further explains, smugness, besides being a deterrent to team collaboration, is also a creative block. Collaboration is key to success, but when individuals are smug twats, they stifle new ideas and thwart joint ventures.

According to Marlou, there are people who work for worthy causes to personally benefit — via the acquisition of money or notoriety. These types of gains can lead to smugness. Instead of seeking profit, she says, find a purpose. But, how can one not be smug when they have been successful? Easy. Reflect. Celebrate the small steps, but don’t lose sight of the big picture. Avoid superficiality. If one remembers that work is never done, the impetus to be smug will diminish.

Despite wanting to change the world for the better, Marlou don’t consider herself to be an activist. She says, “The word ‘activist’ has a stereotypical feel, a negative connotation — it reeks of smug twat, of someone who is an individual, rather than a team contributor. Even though I have spent my whole career actively working towards change, I avoid labeling myself an activist. Instead, I prefer to be called naive.”

Naive is the opposite of smug, exactly what we need to succeed. Naive implies that one is not jaded, that one is open to new ideas. Curiosity, drive, and commitment are elements of naiveté. Once a person has become set in their ways, these traits vanish, and smugness takes hold. It’s like losing your superpower.

Everyone has a superpower — it’s comprised of what you enjoy doing, plus what you are good at. Superpowers are about balance. And balance is the key to being energy-resilient, which is so important when working towards a goal.

Marlou has learned that changing the world does not occur in a straight line. Instead, she notes, it’s two steps forward, five steps back, ten steps forward, one step back. As such, it would be easy for a smug twat to lose their balance, and energy, and forgo an opportunity to change the world.

Aug 28, 2017

On this episode of Paper Napkin Wisdom, entrepreneur and author Damion Lupo makes his case for the gift of errors, “Mistakes are the universe gifting us wisdom, wrapped up inside the struggles in life.”  Damion further explains that throughout our lives, we make mistakes, and as we do, we are taught that mistakes are bad. As a result, we revere people, who we believe, do not err or who are perfect at what they do. In truth, perfection is a farce, a fabrication of society. To understand the depth of knowledge, and succeed in any endeavor, mistakes must be made and overcome.

“If you want to succeed, don’t make mistakes, and don’t challenge authority; go with what you’re told to do.” Damion notes that this philosophy teaches people to become robots and puppets. Those who truly succeed are the ones think for themselves, who make mistakes, and who are willing to venture into the dark and learn from that void.

From the corporate and entrepreneur point of view, Damion further discusses that people don’t always acknowledge when they have made mistakes, so they continue to err. For example, Damion’s friend refused to accept that he’d lost a small fortune. Instead of admitting his money investing mistakes, he hid them, and the financial failures continued. Nothing was learned.

“If you’re gonna be in motion, you’re gonna make mistakes.” Damion describes, as a leader, one must be willing to be bold and move forward, even in the face of adversity. Learn from mistakes and move on quickly. This top-down behavior sets a corporate standard. Employees must be confident to come forward with problems and mistakes, or a firm will never succeed.

At the end of the day, mistakes are a gift, that when accepted and acknowledged, lead to wisdom, progress, and success.

Aug 22, 2017

The Johari window was created by two psychologists in the mid-1950s as a tool for personal, group, and relationship development. Peter Mellen uses the Johari window as the framework for discussing how individuals and groups act, and how communication and relationships can grow.

There are four sections to the Johari window:

  1. Arena or Open: This is information we know about ourselves that’s also known to others.
  2. Façade or Hidden: This is information known to us that we do not share with others.
  3. Blind: This is information we don’t know about ourselves but others do.
  4. Unknown, or what Peter calls Generative Space: What neither we nor others know about ourselves.

Peter says it is important to expand Arena in order to achieve successful relationships. The more we get to know about the other person, the stronger our relationship would become. These relationships could lead to successful results in groups. As Peter says, “As we grow Arena, we build trust stronger and more transparent relationships.”

In the Façade area Peter asks, “What does an entrepreneur choose to keep behind the façade in the realm of the hidden and why do they do it?” It could be because of the fear that if entrepreneurs expose what’s hidden, it would lead to failure. Basically, “a fake it, until you make it” mentality. The challenge for the entrepreneur in this area is to let that fear go and seek the help that’s needed.

The next area, Blind, Peter explains how we might deny our blind spots’ existence, and they can be difficult to hear about. A first reaction might be to push it away. But a better response he says is “thank you.” He suggests that we “listen generously and be willing to try it on.” It is an area for learning and personal growth.

The last area is Generative Space. Peter explains this portion by calling it our “potential” – where all the unarticulated parts of ourselves are and “where miracles happen.” It is where creation exists.  He describes how this portion is our strengths and all those potential skills that we do not know about ourselves, but can discover by looking at ourselves from a different angle, or challenging ourselves to push the envelope. 

Growing as an entrepreneur includes the challenge of finding our strengths and working on what we do not know about ourselves every single day. With better knowledge of ourselves and others knowing us as well, barriers are opened up and organizational relationships can grow.

Aug 22, 2017

Abby Robinson is Atlas Corps’ Chief Development and Engagement Officer. Atlas Corps’ mission is to “address critical social issues by developing leaders, strengthening organizations, and promoting innovation through an overseas fellowship of skilled nonprofit professionals.”

She leads behind the scenes and works one step behind the entrepreneur, but is always in step.  Although “make it big” might be a phrase we normally think of as applying to the entrepreneur or top executives, when Abby says it she means, “Wherever, whenever, whoever you are, you can do your best and have an impact. I think that’s a good saying to drive one through life.” Making it big includes helping others grow as well, to be inspirational and help young people achieve.

The key to being successful for Abby is by listening to the entrepreneur’s idea and creating her own system to get his visions and thoughts on paper efficiently. Seeing the bullet points and a timeline, she can create something achievable. Consistently, and that has built the CEO’s trust. For successful communications, once three emails have gone back and forth, she believes it is time for an in-person conversation. And if she sends emails to employees on weekends, she’s mindful that it will be treated as priority unless she says otherwise, so she’s clear in setting expectations.

When you act like everything’s a crisis and there’s no prioritization, it’s easy to lose staff engagement and the focus on making it big. “Everything always seems like it’s on fire,” Abby says, “But let’s be honest. We are an organization that provides fellowship opportunities, we’re not providing direct services, we’re not emergency services, so when things are on fire, that all needs to be in perspective…” Figuring out what matters most will keep up the energy and momentum to “make it big.” 

Aug 15, 2017

Business success, especially entrepreneurial success, is about finding the right fit for your work, while also finding a harmony with everything else that affects your work. Business success is like relationship success. Sure, it would be wonderful to find the perfect match, but sometimes it’s even better to learn how to make an imperfect match fit. Communication and understanding allow unlike people to form mutually beneficial alliances. When alliances are formed, trust is born. It’s the same with business.

Moving at the speed of trust propels businesses to flourish in a timely manner, while reinforcing and strengthening the foundations of that success.

People often ask Tendrel’s Devon Davey how to build a solid business team. Her go-to reply is: start small with the power of two. Entrepreneurs can move so quickly that they are unable to initially communicate and receive feedback from a large team. Again, to use the relationship analogy, once the trust is established between two people, others can be brought in slowly, and then more rapidly, into the mix.

Listening becomes key in business relationships. Because it’s not about who is right or wrong, but rather it’s about different neutral perspectives having a voice. Neutrality fosters workplace winning, without ego. For instance, partners have strengths you many not possess. Instead of viewing that from a competitive perspective, if their strengths can be accepted as a plus that compliments your weakness, while your strengths also shine, progress can be made without getting personal or emotional. It’s a stretch to leave ego at the door and head into that mutually beneficial magnanimous territory.

Partners, business or personal, come together for each other’s strengths, but stay together because of each other’s stretches. Stretches require solidarity, convergence, and trust. Strengths are where we are comfortable. Stretches require us to take on the unfamiliar, without self-doubt. Together, these two forces are the cornerstones of all success.

Aug 15, 2017

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Entrepreneur Family, a new channel focused on how entire families share in the entrepreneurial journey and how it impacts not just the entrepreneur but their loved ones as well. 

Entrepreneurship requires that a risk-taking individual embark upon a journey: to launch their own business, using their own innovative ideas, in order to eventually earn a viable profit. Entrepreneur Amrit Mansahia discusses in detail with us her business journey, and the challenges she faced along the way. Specifically, she notes that most challenges are unforeseen, and only appear once the entrepreneur is already deep into the process.

Amrit Mansahia explains how one’s family is equally affected by the launch of a new business. Throughout an entrepreneur’s journey, there is more than one individual along for the ride. She says, “It is not me who is failing or succeeding; it is we.” As a spouse, both partners are on the journey together; it is a family affair.

The journey began for Amrit Mansahia when she was a graduate with an entrepreneurship bachelor’s degree, and a supportive husband by her side. They both embarked upon terrific jobs, working for others, until her husband had the idea of the spouses starting their own business. Amrit agreed, even though they had the responsibility of a new baby to also consider. Both spouses quit their jobs and began the business. Immediately, the struggles ensued: long work hours, no income, no money for basic necessities, including baby diapers. Amrit notes, “In one’s own business, there are so many tasks to complete simultaneously.” Focus and balance are very important, because every action and decision depends on and directly effects another action and decision.

Amrit Mansahia describes the entire entrepreneur journey as a rollercoaster ride, with many ups, downs, and unknowns along the way. However, in the end, she observes that having a viable company to call her own is worth the difficult journey it required, of not only her and her husband, but their entire family as well.

Aug 11, 2017

Small business marketing expert and entrepreneur Jim Palmer’s fifth book is entitled, “Stop waiting for it to get easier, create your dream business now!” The sentence explains itself. “There is no perfect time,” Jim says as he recounts his own experience: broke and heavily in debt, on unemployment for 15 months, suffering from a serious health issue. Jim started in a very low place, and he knows you should not wait for the time to be perfect to start your dream business.

“It’s bigger than yourself,” Jim says about the importance of creating your business. If you have an idea and the resources, you should go for what you believe you can do. Now. He makes the analogy of sand in the hourglass. Time is running out, so stop waiting and act!

Jim realizes that people are hungry for success, but you really can’t make your business successful immediately. It’s a time-consuming process, “like a pearl or stained glass, it doesn’t happen instantly,” he says. Everyone starts small and eventually they can reach their dream level. Nothing comes that easy. You have to strive to work hard to make your business a dream business.

He talks about ‘perfectionism’ - how people have the idea of having everything in a perfect way and doing everything at the perfect time. The idea of perfectionism Jim says, is a business killer: it kills momentum. Since you can’t always have the ideal time and the ideal business or the ideal workplace, this will always stop you from moving forward if you think things need to be perfect from the outset.  Get over being a perfectionist, Jim advises. “Choose to be judged on the value of the content, information or service and not on the imperfect way you do it.”

Another factor to be successful at what you do? You consciously commit to stretching where you don’t want to go. “The top 1% learns to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Do the hard work others don’t do,” Jim says.

Swift decision-making is critical for success as well. Trusting your gut is one of the most important strategies that you need in your business. The main thing that you have to do is make a decision right when you are faced with a question or a problem. There is no maybe; there is no in between. What an entrepreneur needs to do is to decide with a firm yes or no. Jim explains that the ability to make decisions is like a muscle. The more you make decisions be they big or little, the more you strengthen your muscle. You are training yourself and getting better at deciding and acting effectively. And if the decision isn’t right, you can course correct.

Delegating is also something entrepreneurs or leaders have to learn to be successful. In a chapter entitled, “Delegate or stay small forever,” he explains that you need to hire smart, and train people into your culture. Then empower them to act. If you micromanage, your business can’t grow.

So act. Start that business. Make mistakes. Grow. Push yourself to realize your entrepreneurial dream.

Aug 7, 2017

Welcome to Episode 1 of Leading Behind the Scenes, a new channel focused on supporting those who support great leaders and entrepreneurs.

Miranda Barrett is an entrepreneur support expert with more than 10 years working with more than 400 entrepreneurs as part of the EO Global Team, and shares her insights on what it takes to be an effective leader.

Leaders often think they’re leading, but their staff is disengaged and disinterested in the overall mission. “If you think you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk,” she says.

According to Miranda, the main trait of a good leader is someone who knows how to leverage and engage their team. “Entrepreneurs have so much energy and passion. It’s akin to an excited golden retriever,” she says. Leaders must understand how to share that excitement and vision with the team. Additionally, showing sincerity and curiosity is a crucial part of getting teams in line with their leader. She explains, “You have to admit when you’re stuck and turn to your team members to help fix the problem, instead of micromanaging. That trust is contagious and will come right back to you.”

Empowering your team through humility and vulnerability can also lead to teaching them to develop their inner leader, which, in turn, will help you reach your goals. The team needs to feel protected and supported by the leader before they’ll protect and support him or her. She recalls a situation where a supportive team led to success. “We were hosting our Global Student Entrepreneur Awards program. The team was phenomenal. My job was to make sure our emcee did the best job possible, despite last minute scheduling changes. In a very visible way, he was on the hook for anything that would have gone wrong, but he had a safety net. He looked alone but he was very, very well supported.”

Things don’t always turn out as planned. When teams don’t reach their goals, it’s important to take some time to regroup. “There’s a humility in being curious. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Was the process broken? If so, where was the breakdown? Unemotionally figuring out what happened and where, instead of immediately blaming your team is a crucial part of maintaining that trust,” she says.

Having a team of “yes-men” may mean that your team members don’t feel open enough to voice their opinions. A disengaged team can be just as bad as an incompetent one. “When you have people proactively looking ahead of you to help and feel safe making suggestions? That’s when you can be sure that your team wants to be there,” she says. Conversely, if your team isn’t making suggestions, they may not feel comfortable speaking up. People who follow like leaders help push each other to grow and be better.

Finding ways to draw the honesty out of your team ensures its health. Miranda suggests that leaders find “fun and inventive” ways to get honest feedback from team members that may not feel comfortable opening up.  Miranda recalls a company that was opening a store in China. In a meeting, the team assured their managers everything was on schedule to open on time. However, after the managers let the team place bets on when they thought the store would actually open, they found out that no one on the team thought that making the deadline was possible. The store ended up not opening for months.

Provide a safe environment, and people will speak up.

Aug 7, 2017

The title says it all: Think Big, Start Small. This is the philosophy behind many accomplishments and dreams that individuals and entrepreneurs bring to fruition.

Every big endeavor requires a step-by-step process of achievement. Innovative ideas are the big picture, each step turns that idea into reality is the small. Thinking big keeps eyes focused on the prize. Small achievements along the way are their own mini-prizes.

Andrew Davis shares his big dream story in today’s interview. From the time he was a child, Andrew wanted to work for the Jim Henson Company, with their famous characters, the Muppets. He began by doing magic tricks; he worked his way up to performing little puppet shows. Andrew dedicated three years to skills practice, and wrote thirty-six job query letters to the Jim Henson Company, letters he sent every month. He finally received notice. With no contacts and no formal idea how to achieve his dream, Andrew managed to land an interview. This is a real example of how to think big and start small!

As Andrew explains, success is achieved by breaking down goals. The big plan may seem impossible to others, but if each small step is clear and consistent, support increases. As Andrew notes, “Consistency is important to achieving big ideas.” That’s what he did. He stayed consistent and kept the rhythm.

Breville is another dream big, start small and achieve company. Breville sells kitchen appliances and juicers. Their dream was to sell more juicers. They did so by targeting overweight 40-year-old men via a 90-minute documentary film called, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” They partnered with food companies and movie theaters and sold so many juicers that Breville ran out of juicers to sell!

As Andrew says, “A rising tide lifts off ships.” It’s a clear depiction of how small steps can give rise to think BIG dreams and ambitions.

Jul 18, 2017

Being a good manager and effective leader is not just about making decisions on your own, but about understanding how much decision-making depends on the customer’s behavior.

In this podcast, we talk with Chris McGoff, founder and chairman of The Clearing, who has been helping big brands and the federal government drive change and find success for 30 years. Chris provides a simple visualization of how managers divide their time: customers to the east, peers to the west, boss to the north, and staff and employees to the south.

“Spending your time in each of the four places is not equal. Some places are much more important than the others,” Chris tells us. As a typical manager, we are taught to keep focus on all the aspects, which isn’t wrong, but some areas need more focus than others.

What Chris focuses on is the importance of customers. When you spend time with your peers, boss and staff, without first and foremost spending time getting to understand your customers, you aren’t generating much power, Chris says. The manager who first goes to the customers, communicates with them, understands their problems, and then brings that voice to their boss, staff, and peers creates more powerful conversations.

When you “surrender your own voice, you take on the voice of the customer,” and you can go to your boss, peers, and staff knowing what your customers need, and approach solutions from that space.

Chris states, “Everything is created through value distribution to the East,” so your focus should be on communicating with customers first and regularly, then bringing that knowledge to the other groups in your circle.

The sole reason a business exists is because of the customers, so communication is critical but doesn’t have to be overwhelming. As Chris points out, “The coolest part about this is: it’s easy! It’s ancient. There’s nothing new here. You simply go and have a good conversation with people.”

Jul 13, 2017

Tom Bilyeu, the co-founder of Quest Nutrition and life-long entrepreneur, chooses to focus on “everything being in my control.” While most people would agree in principle, they don’t often put it into true practice. Once you start working on the things that you believe in, it will not only be a motivating process, but will bring promising results.

Much like the movie The Matrix, Tom’s philosophy is that “everything around us is a construct,” so by believing that everything is under our control, the choices we make towards the things we want to and can do become much more powerful and effective. Conversely, creating a web of lies in front of your eyes by not doing what you believe in leads to ineffective results.

Tom also explains the usefulness of knowing when you are wrong and being open to other’s point of views. Even though it is good to have strong beliefs, sometimes what you are doing might not be as right as you think it is. Knowing that you might, at times, be wrong about certain things allows you to open up to what others are saying and reconsider and refocus your goals and beliefs.  

Those goals need to be crystal clear, because “everything is reverse engineering from that.” Once you figure out what you want, then you can figure out what’s needed to get you there. If you don’t know what you want, then you’ll be pulled in too many directions, and getting what you want will be “really hard.”

Moving toward your goal and can be scary, but Tom believes it’s important it is to do the things that you’re most scared of, in order to become the person you want to be. Doing things that you know are right and are what will get you to your goal may be painful, but also bring great reward in getting where you want to be. 

Feb 28, 2017


If you’re a long term Paper Napkin Wisdom listener, you may remember Christina Harbridge’s last visit EPISODE 47, when we had a lively discussion about shifting focus towards things that are enjoyable. If you’re just tuning in, Christina has a very interesting background. She has co-authored software, built a company that hit national revenue success, practiced acrobatic swing dancing, been a NASA test subject, and collaborated to design several large-scale metal sculptures currently on display in San Francisco, Austin, and Toronto. Now, she is the CEO of Allegory, a company that provides group training, one-on-one coaching, behavior change, and company culture services. In today’s podcast, she breaks down why drilling down on context is crucial to good communication.

Christina explains, “If I ask you for food and you hand me an apple, it’s because I wasn’t specific enough.” Taking it a step further, if she wanted a Granny Smith, she may find herself disappointed when you hand her a Golden Delicious for a midday treat. Recognizing levels of context has to become a habit, Christina remarks. As opposed to throwing around buzzwords, Christina recommends drilling down a bit and getting to the heart of the conversation and concerns. “Context is a deliberate practice and you must notice it everywhere in order to increase understanding. It will become more of a habit over time,” she says.

On an organizational level, becoming more contextual can pay dividends. Christina makes it a practice to ask for direct, tangible examples when a team member makes a complaint. “Getting examples can drive change and fulfill a person’s basic need to feel understood,” she believes. For example, as opposed to complaining that a Director of Finance is underperforming, Christina suggests asking team members for specific examples in order to change the complaint into a solution. “Context helps you understand if it's just a complaint or if there is a good example beyond the buzzwords,” she says.

Outside of complaints, Christina believes there is also a benefit in applying this philosophy to positive feedback. “When praising an employee, give root level feedback. Make sure to specify an example of exactly what you liked in order to see that behavior replicated,” she mentions. Christina admits that she wasn’t always a practitioner of this belief. “I used to not specifically articulate my needs and get mad when they weren’t met. It would bubble up until the point where a missed document would take me over the edge,” she recalls. By adopting this practice, she has found that things run more smoothly in both her personal and professional life.

How can you begin to practice specificity in your day-to-day life and organization’s life? Tweet us with your thoughts!

Feb 14, 2017

In a society where people expect things to materialize instantly, many would be entrepreneurs expect the same, as it relates to success. However, in today’s podcast, founder of RYSE Media, Jay Jackson discusses how his view of entrepreneurship has evolved over the years and provides tips for the next generation of entrepreneurs. “Some people dream of success, some people wake up and work hard at it every day,” he says.

With the insurgence of social media and the desire for instant gratifications, Jay finds that many people aren’t willing to put in the work required to be successful. “When you see a successful person, aspiring entrepreneurs often don’t understand the steps it took to get them there,” Jay says. Growing up, he often idealized the wrong people and was headed down a different path until he found a mentor who changed his perspective. The process of fulfilling his dreams by founding his own magazine wasn’t easy, “Early on, I realized the importance of consistency. I try to pass that value along to my team members and people I mentor.”

Jay believes that aspiring entrepreneurs should take the responsibility for their own empowerment and build doors, if necessary. “When I speak at high school and colleges, students often tell me they don’t encounter many entrepreneurs. Through sharing my story, I believe it empowers them a bit more,” he says. While many of the students idolize basketball players, they fail to realize the work behind the glitz and the glamour. “We’re living in a generation that wants everything instantly. But I think at the core, [my company] tries to expose people to success and the process to becoming successful,” Jay remarks.

As for Jay, his key to success is consistent and authentic innovation. “My team is young; the average person is around 25 years old. I’m always tapping them for ideas on how to engage and inspire through our content.”

What are tips you’d like to pass on to the next generation of entrepreneurs? Send us a tweet @WiseNapkin with your answer!

Feb 7, 2017

As entrepreneurs, it’s often tough to take time to smell the flowers. Learning how to juggle endless to-do lists, a budding business and loved ones can be difficult for even the most seasoned entrepreneur. However, in this week’s podcast, Trackmaven’s CEO Allen Gannett explains why he is making it a point to take time to be appreciative.

The 25 year old helms the fifty person B2B software company and managed to raise $26M. “I met investors who immediately fell in love with the business. There was a lot of momentum,” he recalls. Early on, he gravitated towards one of his investors and they began a mentor-mentee relationship. “As a young homosexual CEO, it was a confidence builder to find someone I connected with in a world where I wasn’t really fitting in,” Allen says. However, things took a turn when his mentor died unexpectedly. Stunned by the loss, he realized that he hadn’t been as appreciative of his mentor’s support. “It made me reflect on ways to appreciate those who have invested in me emotionally and financially.”

Allen began to find simple ways to acknowledge those around him. While entrepreneurs typically care more about getting the work done as opposed to getting a pat on the back, employees and team members often need that validation in order to feel appreciated. “There is a difference between entrepreneurship and leadership,” Allen explains. Now, if he sees an employee doing a stellar job, he’ll invite them out to lunch. “That validation can really make all the difference. As a CEO, people are constantly watching you - even in ways you don’t realize. It can be taxing, but its more positive and empowering. It can be a confidence builder for them,” he says.

While appreciation is important, he also thinks it’s necessary to have some sort of balance. In cases where the team is underperforming, he urges entrepreneurs to take a look at themselves first. “We have to be willing to ask ourselves if our goals are actually attainable,” he says. He also advises entrepreneurs to marry appreciation and accountability. “Put appreciation on a pedestal and develop a meritocracy culture.”

How do you show your team members that they’re appreciated? Sound off on our Twitter @WiseNapkin or on our Facebook Page!

Jan 31, 2017

It’s a tale as old as time -  a regular human discovers their calling and springs to action. Our hero/heroin usually meets up with a mentor or a group of allies and they face a villain as a collaborative force. Joey Womack, CEO of Atlanta based Amplify 4 Good, thinks that entrepreneurs often follow a similar path. His organization uses a combination of out-of-the-box thinking, rapid problem-solving, and obsessive data tracking to help companies create impact. In today’s podcast, he talks about why “being a force for good” has become his guiding principle in his journey.

Joey initially adopted this mantra when he decided to go against the grain and opt out of accounting,  the family trade. While searching for motivation to follow his entrepreneurial journey despite the naysayers, this quotes got him through dark times. He explains, “As change-makers and entrepreneurs, we are heroes. We have a responsibility to look out and have a bias to action.” A fellow Star Wars fan, he compared entrepreneurs to Jedis. “We bring balance to the force. It’s up to us to figure out deficits and make a contribution to the solutions,” he says. As with heroes, many entrepreneurs spring into action after meeting their Mr. Miyagis or Gandalfs - mentors that ultimately drive them to their destiny. “We hear this call on the inside which tells us we have to default to action,” Joey remarks.

During this action phase, he has also found that accepting failure during this process is a key to success. “I tell people in our innovation labs that they need to accept that failure is likely. Just like in some of our favorite movies, the main character loses the first battle with the villain. But they take time to regroup and learn,” he says. Joey believes that removing the fear of failure takes the pressure off and allows entrepreneurs to be creative and innovative. He also is intentional about surrounding himself with people who share the same bias for action. “Surround yourself with momentum. We need to rebel against our own limits,” he says.

Due to the pressures and inertia of life, most big hairy audacious goals can seem elusive due to their enormous simplicity. “I want to help one billion people by January 2039,” Joey says. “It’s a big goal, but I believe the universe will bend to your needs once you manifest it.”

How are you using your talents to be a force for good? Tweet us @WiseNapkin or comment on our Facebook Page with your answers.

Dec 29, 2016

Is there a formulaic way to build a great startup? Today’s guest, Maxim Wheatley thinks so. Maxim comes from a very diverse background - he is an award-winning product leader and innovator, with proven success operating at the intersection of business development, innovation, and product strategy. Additionally, he is the co-founder of LifeFuels, a company that aims to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to to diagnose, manage, and cure health ailments. Maxim’s thoughts on entrepreneurship boil down to three basic tenets: “Dream big and start small, constantly seek new questions to answer, and remember that it’s the people who turn ideas into companies,” he says.


‘Dream Big & Start Small’

While it’s important to have vision, it’s also important to get comfortable to with taking small steps. “Like [Reddit Founder] Alexis Ohanian says, ‘Entrepreneur is a fancy word for someone who has ideas and does them’,” Maxim says. While having a big vision important, he urges entrepreneurs to figure out the small and intricate steps involved in helping them achieve their goals. He believes the lean startup culture has a certain bias to action that restricts founders from making moves as often as they should. “Early wins build momentum,” he remarks, “There is magic in relentlessly pushing as opposed to elegantly leaping.”


‘Constantly Seek New Questions to Answer’

Having a background in consumer electronic products, Maxim understands the hiccups that can come about when launching a business. “Great products are oriented around prototype questions. “If we’re doing something that doesn’t answer a question, it’s time to readjust,” he says. He urges entrepreneurs to constantly ask new questions and evaluate whether those questions link up to the ‘dream big’ portion of his theory. “Entrepreneurship can be a difficult and lonely road,” he mentions, “Asking new questions and getting them answered can provide you with a sense of victory.” While an inquisitive nature is important, Maxim warns against falling into an “incubator mentality”. Although testing can ensure success for future endeavors, he believes that there is “no validation or testing that will take away from the fact that you need to start taking action.”


‘It’s the People Who Turn Ideas into Companies’


Developing a team is a crucial part of turning ideas into a bonafide operation. If you had $5M and no one wanted to work for you, or $100K and seven people that were excited about your business opportunity, which scenario would you pick? “I’d pick the latter every time,” Maxim says. While many entrepreneurs find themselves working solo due to fear of criticism, egocentrism or lack of cash flow, he urges them to explore additional measures. “Find out how to pay people in different ways,” he says. Maxim recommends that entrepreneurs use their vision, as opposed to misguided promises of wealth, to attract their team. “Identify other currencies you have at your disposal. Find ways to help [your team] meet their short term and long term goals,” he says. By giving people the opportunity to be apart of something meaningful, he believes entrepreneurs will curate loyal teams.


Staying on Track


In order to stay focused, Maxim is intentional about these principles. While many startups often attract unsolicited opinions, he believes that successful founders understand how to weed through the noise, filter the quality feedback and turn it into meaningful action. Additionally, he stresses that goals should be simple. “The startup lifestyle is dog years multiplied by ten,” he laughs, “You have to try and not get too caught up in long term planning.” Rather, Maxim suggests that founders take time to ensure that their everyday activities are aligned with their bigger vision. He suggests that founders should ask themselves, “Is there meaningful progress? Are you creating something that you can show and evaluate? If not, change course.”


What “small steps” have you taken to achieve your “big dreams”? Comment below ( or send us a Tweet (!


Dec 27, 2016

My very Uncommon Opinion: buying a house is a good investment


These days, it seems to be all the rage to tell people to “never buy a house.” Folks like Grant Cardone and James Altucher argue that buying a home eats up too much capital and never allows for a good return on investment. Well, to put this bluntly: They’re wrong, and I have the facts to prove it.


How much money are you really putting down?


If you’re an average millennial with decent credit, you’ll usually only be putting down 10% when you purchase your first home – far from some online arguments that assume a 20% to 40% down payment when arguing against home buying. That’s a big difference – $30,000 vs. up to $120,000 for a $300,000 home. Don’t rely on inaccurate assumptions; estimate what your down payment would be before deciding that buying isn’t for you.


People are overbuying on their first (or second, or third) house


When most people look at a mortgage offer from a bank, they purchase the most expensive house the bank will allow them to afford, which is a terrible idea. If a bank extends someone the credit to buy a $500,000 house, but a $300,000 home fits most of their needs, the less expensive home is a better financial and lifestyle choice. Remember, overextending yourself means you are actually buying a mortgage, not a house.


Many of the arguments against buying overlook making a sensible purchase, and use examples in which individuals are buying the most expensive home they can get their hands on. That seriously sways the numbers in favor of renting. Just because others are doing this doesn’t mean you have to – get a less expensive home so you can save and place more money into investment vehicles with a higher rate of return, or spend the difference on things you are passionate about.


Money spent on upgrading your lifestyle or yourself, such as traveling the world or finally firing up that great business idea, are a far better investment than a fancy address. Plus, you can always upgrade later, if you want.


Keep in mind, you have to live somewhere


One of the traditional arguments for buying a home is that you’re spending money on rent anyway, so you might as well invest it in something. This is still correct. As long as you make smart choices when you purchase a home, it’s better to invest in your own property rather than pay a landlord.


Think about it this way – you’re going to lose a lot of money renting over the years. If you lose less money over time by owning a house, you’ve made a great financial choice.


Homes nearly always appreciate in value, especially with maintenance and smart improvements


If you let your home deteriorate and don’t maintain it, it’s a no-brainer that its value will decrease over time. However, if you maintain your home by investing in improvements that can increase its resale value, it’s likely to significantly increase in value over time.


Examples of improvements with a high rate of return include installing high-quality floors, maintaining bathrooms, and upgrading your home’s kitchen. Unfortunately, improvements to the backyard such as landscaping have low ROI, so you should avoid spending too much on them if you’re trying to maximize your home’s value.


Will I be stuck in my house forever?


Unlike what some folks say, buying a home doesn't chain you to one address for life. Unless you get really unlucky and purchase a place for well over its market value, you’re not going to get stuck for long – just sell the house and move into another. If you can’t, simply rent out your property and rent another somewhere else while you sort things out and wait for the original home’s value to increase.


Is this a good time to buy?


The housing crash of 2008 is still in recent memory and it has many first-time home buyers scared that they could overpay, only to see their residence quickly crash in value. So, to determine whether the housing market is overvalued (and thus headed for a bust) or if it still has a lot of room for stable growth, check out an analysis done by The Economist for a quick snapshot.


The magazine’s data team looked at two numbers: the ratio of price to income and price to rent, and found that houses in most American cities appear to be at fair value when compared to long-term averages. Some cities, however, like San Francisco, have homes that are extremely expensive compared to average incomes (meaning they could be destined for a fast fall), so it’s a good idea to dig into a city’s price-to-income and price-to-rent ratios before buying property there.


Profiting off of your home equity using The Smith Manoeuvre (for Canadian homeowners)


In the U.S., home mortgage payments are tax deductible (as long as it’s a primary residence), but in Canada, homeowners aren’t quite so lucky. However, Canadians can take out a home equity loan in order to invest money in income-producing entities (like dividend-paying stocks or rental property), and use the tax return to further pay down their mortgages.


It’s called the Smith Manoeuvre, and while it sounds complex, it’s a fantastic way for many homeowners to develop a sizeable investment portfolio and pay their mortgage at the same time. If you’re considering doing this, you should be confident in your investing skills – and be prepared with a Plan B if you need to move and the market goes down.


The bottom line: You should probably own a house


Should everyone go out right now and buy a house? Well, maybe not everyone. But if you're like most young people who earn a steady income and want to invest in their future, it’s absolutely the right move. If you still don’t believe me, run the numbers yourself with this calculator. It takes into account rent prices, mortgage rates, inflation levels, taxes, and variety of other factors to compare the long-term costs of renting vs. buying a residence.

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