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.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts





All Episodes
Now displaying: 2017
Dec 30, 2017

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

I had the opportunity to sit beside someone who was a Member of the Million Miles Club on a plane this week and we had an great conversation about the use of knowledge, technology, and leadership around the world. He spends a lot of time traveling to Asia, Europe, and elsewhere marketing innovative technologies around the world.

His key point – knowledge was becoming near valueless. Instead, execution, collaboration, communication, and connection are becoming increasingly valuable.

Listen in and find out why.

Dec 27, 2017

We have all been there. Feeling caged and unable to move forward due to real or perceived fears. But what if you realized that the cage was unlocked, and all you had to do was walk out? Zahra Al-Harazi, founder of Foundry Communications and UNICEF’s Canadian Ambassador, explains how entrepreneurs can overcome these boundaries. “There’s no lock on the cage,” she says, “No matter what cage you place yourself in or where others may put you, there’s never a lock there.”

Growing up in Yemen, she didn’t always subscribe to this idea. She moved to Canada with her children in 1996, where she became a stay at home mom. “I didn’t have any ambition and didn’t think I could really do much,” she admits. Upon realizing that this feeling wasn’t a regional thing, she began to think of ways to overcome it.

Fear had been holding her back from a variety of things, but she decided she didn’t have to be stuck there. She went on to live by this and share this philosophy at conferences and seminars across North America. Although she was mildly acrophobic, she took up a friend’s offer to go skydiving. “I threw up as soon as I landed,” she laughs, “But I did it.”

In order to escape the “cage”, Zahra found value in developing core values for herself and her business. “By developing these values and exemplifying them in everything you do, it allows you to live a more free life,” she says. For example, one of her core values states simply ‘Be Curious’. By consciously living that principle, she allows room for her curiosity to reign supreme and lead her to places where she may have once been afraid to go. “The fear never leaves. But you learn to work around it,” she says.

Another way to escape this fear is to overcome the reluctance to ask for assistance. “I have thirty mentors. I go to people for different things I need help with,” she says. When she was first starting out, she began to cultivate a tribe by asking for help.

“I learned how to be vulnerable and using that vulnerability to get out of this cage,” she recalls. When asked if she’s sometimes afraid to ask for help because she doesn’t want to “weak” or “ill-informed”, she admits that she does have these feelings sometimes. “However, I’ve learned that vulnerability can be contagious,” she says.

A tribe is undoubtedly the strongest tool in any entrepreneurs’ arsenal. When it comes to networking and discovering that tribe, she recommends that people develop a UVP (unique value proposition) and learn how to be of service to others in an authentic way. Additionally, she urges others to never discount someone prematurely, “Everyone has something to bring to the table.”

What “cage” have you locked yourself in? Is there a certain person that could help you get out of that cage? What can you bring to the table to overcome these fears? Let us know by Tweeting us at @Wisenapkin

Dec 23, 2017

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

I was lucky enough to be able to participate in one of the largest entrepreneur events in the world recently. While there, I met with and heard hundreds of entrepreneurs pitching their world-changing ideas. Some truly could change the world.

The problem with many of them though seemed to be that they were pitching to the wrong group. What they needed to do is get out there and get some customers! Incubators, however, seem more interested in grooming entrepreneurs to pitch to VCs, Private Equity, Angel Investors, and other Incubators.

Dec 20, 2017

255,207. Search “leadership” in Amazon and that’s the number of publications that will come up. With the plethora of ideas out there, is it possible to get to the heart of what leadership truly is? Val Jon Farris, CEO of Diamius Multinational Consulting Firm thinks so. With over two decades of experience conducting leadership development programs, he recalls that the more classes and seminars leaders go to, the more jaded they become.

“It diverts them from their innate knowledge of leadership. Doing a leader is not being a leader,” he says. Without an internal “leadership” compass, an abundance of misdirected actions can occur. Leadership is more than a checklist of best practices and lists. In this podcast, Val explains his thoughts behind this theory.

Having an innate understanding of what it means to be a leader is a major key to leadership success. “Leadership needs to be intentional and inherent,” he says, “The only person you can ever truly lead is yourself.” While he does not believe that everyone has a “leader” inside of them, he does believe that some people can take this approach to cultivate their inner trailblazer.

He stumbled upon this approach while working under the mentorship of inventor and world class engineer, Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller. Bucky believed in taking care of “Spaceship Earth” and all inhabitants of it. Val took this to heart and, over time, began to slowly shift his leadership style from “critic” to “education”. “I realized that things worked better when I put my pride aside and focused on making things work,” he recalls.

A second revelation occurred while he was ice climbing Mt. Shasta with some friends. After nearly falling to his death, he refused help from his fellow climbers. After taking a moment to step back, he realized that his ego was preventing him to getting the help he desperately needed at that moment. In fact, it was putting his entire team in needless danger.

“In that moment, I realized that I needed to move away from my ego – which was denying the help from my team, and move towards how I really felt—scared, shaken up and in need of assistance,” he says.

Listening to yourself and allowing your heart to influence your leadership decision is a crucial part of gaining your teams trust. Additionally, it provides space for others to flex their leadership skills. He calls this concept ‘holding space for someone’.

“I like to give my team space, while investing in them to be their very best. They’ll do so in their own way. They just need to know that you’re supporting them.”

What do you think about Val Farris’ theory? What’s driving the core of your leadership? Tweet us @WiseNapkin with your answers!

Dec 16, 2017

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

Following up on the bad news of a few weeks ago, things didn’t get better. I got some very tough breaks that blindsided me in business and life. It’s been a challenge to see the silver lining on the clouds of the last couple weeks.

What made it easier has been my Forum, my Mastermind group – my group of peers. There’s strength in finding people to help you unpack the challenges of life. I share how it’s helped me find my way in the last couple weeks.

Dec 13, 2017

Have you ever nearly tripped over a milestone or a goal because you were focused on the bigger prize?

That happened at Paper Napkin Wisdom and we nearly let the 150th Episode go by without any recognition of what we've learned and done over the last 3 years.

In that time we've collected more than a thousand paper napkins, done hundreds of interviews, released a book, and TENS of thousands of you have subscribed and listened to the podcast.

Since we were looking forward, however, we almost forgot to look back and see just how far we've come. 

What happened next is incredible ... I asked our Contributors to come back and share what has changed for them, if anything, since they shared their wisdom with us. I wasn't sure if I'd get one or two folks. I was overwhelmed to get 11 contributors come back and join us.

The content here defies a write-up ... it requires a listen. 

There are three easy ways to sign up for the Paper Napkin Wisdom Podcast:

1. via iTunes at -
2. via Google at -
3. via Stitcher at -

or via

In addition, this podcast launches the the vlog video version of Paper Napkin Wisdom so we recorded the live stream of the 150th Podcast Episode recording.

Join me as I talk to some of the world's most incredible entrepreneurs, leaders, and difference-makers and they share pearls of wisdom around faith, family, growth, people (teams), momentum, vulnerability, authenticity, resilience and success.

You can see the video on our YouTube Channel here.


Don't forget to get the book!



Dec 9, 2017

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

This week I share an experience from this week. I was dealt a huge blow late this week. It was a public failure – and to some degree very embarrassing on the surface. I share how taking responsibility for it has helped me evolve, learn, and grow remarkably quickly. I’m ready for the next time, and no worries, there is always a next time!

How do you respond to challenges and adversity?

How do you get ready for the next opportunity?

Dec 6, 2017

What does it take to be an effective leader? Thousands of books and articles attempt to answer this question (including our podcast). On today’s show, entrepreneur support expert Miranda Barrett is an shares her insights on what it takes to be an effective leader. For more than a decade, Miranda has worked with over 400 entrepreneurs as part of the EO Global Team.

“I work with our member leaders to discuss their goals for the upcoming years and I’ve found similarities between the people who end up meeting those goals and those who don’t,” she says. Often times, leaders 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 vulnerability 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. 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 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? 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.

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 who was looking to open a store in China. In the 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 that the entire team didn’t think the deadline was possible. The store ended up not opening for months.

What are some things you do with your team to keep them engaged? Send us a tweet @WiseNapkin with your answer!

Dec 2, 2017

Each week I’ll post a short podcast, usually between 3 to 5 minutes long, just talking about how to apply the Paper Napkin Wisdom 5 Step Plan to Life and Business Success in an everyday kind of way.

This week I talk about how important it is to stay in your lane and remain focused on your main priority. Don’t get distracted with things that will pull you off course.

Are you staying on course? How do you do it?

Nov 29, 2017

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitate. Roughly translated into “More things should not be used than are necessary,” Occam’s razor— a principle developed by Franciscan friar and logician—harps on the value of simplicity. In today’s podcast, Brian Kight explains the value of simplistic discipline. “[In order to be successful], one must choose discipline over default every day. It’s the one thing that enhances everything,” he says.

As CEO of Focus 3, an organization that helps organizations align leaders, culture and behaviors with strategy and goals, he routinely couches entrepreneurs on the value of discipline. “It’s a constant battle between our willingness to bring discipline to each day or to default into old habits. The hardest thing to do in the world is to execute the simplest tasks with discipline. Elite levels of discipline garner great results,” he continues.

While this idea seems simple enough, anyone can agree that it isn’t necessarily easy. Take diet and weight loss, for example. Everyone knows the basic ways one can shed pounds – healthy eating, exercise, regular check-ins with a dietician and so on. However, shutting down the default (also known as autopilot) and getting to the discipline part is what makes it so difficult. Default is anything driven by autopilot, resistance and impulse – three things that are not uncommon in the human experience. “Living a disciplined life means that you’re not on autopilot. You’re living intentionally,” he says.

For most people, the word discipline has an immediate negative connotation. But the word actually comes from a Latin word which translates into student. “All discipline means is learning how to narrow down and apply a system of standards,” Brian says, “In my observation, I encounter far too few people who have a definitive set of standards and living them with discipline.”

Contrary to popular science, Brian refuses to subscribe to the notion that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. “I don’t believe that discipline becomes our natural norm. It’s something you have to work on. Your brain is always going to want to find an easier path. Discipline must be a daily decision and very intentional,” he argues. 

For leaders who are looking to incorporate more discipline into their corporate structure, Brian warns that discipline must come from within and not from external sources— otherwise, it’s just compliance. “First, you must set the standard, then give people tools that help them become disciplined and hold them accountable. It’s not about rules; it’s about establishing a standard through clarity and support,” he advises. 

Nov 25, 2017

Take Action Premiere!

I talk about how my 9 year old son and I use our morning routines to help build a plan for the day.

Are you building a plan for your day? How do you do it?

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.

Nov 22, 2017

Entrepreneurs, what big plans have you been putting off because they seemed unrealistic or too far-fetched? Have you ever asked yourself, “Well, why not? What’s the worst that can happen?” Today’s podcast guests thinks that you should. “There are benefits to having ADHD”, declares founder of HARO and Paper Napkin Wisdom show favorite, Peter Shankman. “When you have ADHD, you have two speeds, off or all the way on. You tend to not overthink things. You come to the conclusion that you want to do things, just because you move faster than normal.”

Think of it as flying through and around and with things.

As it turns out, this ended up being how he got started with his latest project, Faster Than Normal, a podcast which focuses on turning ADHD into an advantage, instead of a disability. While many entrepreneurs are plagued by inaction due to overthinking, Peter doesn’t have that problem. “There’s a built in bias to action. More ideas have failed because they haven’t been done, not because they were bad ideas,” he muses.

While many successful entrepreneurs are innately curious, many also suffer from this bias. Perfectionism, while a noble quest, is often the serial killer to innovation and creativity. Peter’s approach pairs a relentless desire to execute and innovate with the relentless desire to have fun and let loose. This has proven to be successful for him: by using his ADHD as a rocket instead of a crutch, he has founded several entrepreneurial ventures.

The Faster Than Normal podcast is extremely personal to him. As a child, he often felt out of place. He subscribes to Kevin Spacey’s quote which states “If you're lucky enough to do well, it's your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” Peter often receives letters from parents that thank him for speaking up and providing his interesting perspectives on ADHD.

He believes that embracing differences is an important key to innovation. “I’ve lost several friends from suicide over the past decade or so. There need to me more conversations surrounding mental health for entrepreneurs,” he says, “We become our most honest selves when we become the help we once needed.”

So, how can entrepreneurs adopt the ‘do first and think later’ mindset? Think of your brain as an Internet browser. The more tabs that are open, the slower it will go. Peter suggests adhering to a strict routine and ruthlessly eliminating anything that does not fit within that routine. “Structure will set you free,” he says.

What are some of your ‘big, hairy audacious goals’? What’s stopping you from going after them? Tweet us with your answers @WiseNapkin!

Nov 18, 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.


Nov 15, 2017

When we first started Paper Napkin Wisdom, the idea was that by inspiring entrepreneurs to change themselves, we could promote change in the world. Lucas Siegel, co-founder of Capital Peak Investments and AlternaScript has a similar idea in today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom. “If there’s something in the world you don’t like, then build a business to change it,” he says. He began AlternaScript with this concept in mind. “It’s fascinating how few people realize that a business is really just about solving a problem better than other people can.”

Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, his family always instilled a sense of worldly purpose within Lucas. After graduating from the University of Colorado and extensive travelling, he began to explore the problem with health supplements. “I discovered that most of them sucked and did not have any scientific backing. The underlying problem – which is what I based my company off of— surrounds how we can optimize health for American citizens and the world. How can we unleash people to live up to their potential, from a healthy living perspective? In my opinion, business is the only way to sustainably solve some of the world’s most massive, daunting problems,” he mused.

Beginning a business with a question in mind is a great way to stay on purpose through the entrepreneurial journey. “It’s so easy to lose track of why you’re here. Keeping that question at the forefront of your efforts helps to align your vision and your team,” says Lucas. Speaking of teams, he credits a lot of his success to his “tribe”. There are three types of people he keeps around him, “I surround myself with scalers, inventors and operators. And I make sure they’re all smarter than me and purpose driven individuals.”

Running a purpose driven business can be tough without the help of a well-oiled machine. Lucas ensures that he stays on track by running daily and reading (or, as he tells it, having a conversation with the author).  Additionally, he develops six month goals which he writes down and reads twice a day. “I have micro goals inside of my larger term goals. Six months is the longest I’d like to plan. I read somewhere that strategizing on a year to year basis is less of a strategy and more of a dream. Putting tight timelines on things pushes your brain more,” he says.

A large part of Lucas’ purpose is to provide consumers with top notch products. He’s not prone to analysis paralysis and is an advocate for another popular idea on our show: ‘Make it bad then make it better.’ “We use consumer feedback to evolve our products. We have developed over fifty versions of our cognitive enhancement brain supplement,” he says. “The hard part is scaling and gaining traction and going through the 5,000 no’s to get to that one yes.”

While he credits his success to the idea of solving a problem with his business, Lucas also cautions fellow entrepreneurs to do the same. “A lot of people come to me to try and figure out why their business isn’t growing. I always tell them to think to themselves: ‘Am I solving a problem that exists? Or did I create the problem in my head’,” he muses.

What’s the ultimate worldly purpose behind your business? Tweet us @Wisenapkin with your answers!

Nov 8, 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.”


Nov 8, 2017

To some, the concept of trusting the world may seem like a far-fetched philosophy. ‘How can I trust the world with everything that’s going on right now?’ you may ask. However, today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom guest, Leila Janah doesn’t feel like the concept is unrealistic. In fact, she uses it as the guiding principle in her personal and professional life. Leila is founder of Sama, a social enterprise that helps people lift themselves out of poverty, and Laxmi, a social impact luxury brand. Her interest in tackling these issues stemmed from her grandmother. An ‘adventurette’, Grandma Janah hiked around the world from 1949-1952 with only $5 to her name. She met Leila’s grandfather in Calcutta, where the two began to build a life. Years later, Leila’s parents were worried about their upcoming move to the United States. “My grandma took their hands and said: ‘The world is a beautiful place. Trust the world’. They imparted that philosophy on to me,” she says.

Birthed by impassioned adventurers, Leila expressed interest in world policy and events from an early age. “I’ve lived abroad in Japan and Switzerland because I wanted to be connected with people and see how they lived,” Leila recalls. After helming the inaugural chapter of Amnesty International at her local high school, she worked to provide equal access to AP courses within high schools in underprivileged communities. By taking the philosophy of connectedness and pairing it with action, she found a way to promote change in the world.

Trusting the world also applies to managerial styles. When one of her team members needed two days outside of his allotted PTO in order to go on his honeymoon, she found a way to ensure he wouldn’t have to take unpaid leave. “He didn’t ask me for this, but I wanted to give it to him. When you give people agency and you expect the best from them, that’s when they deliver,” she says. Instead of treating employees as mindless drones, she finds that this approach allows for them to take more pride in their work.

This is not to say you won’t be disappointed when humans you’ve trusted drop the ball. “It’s not always easy to view the world through this lens,” she admits, “But I believe that bad behavior is only the default when we expect it to be. When you have high expectations of other humans, they normally will rise to the challenge.” She also credits daily meditation with keeping her centered and focused. “Ben Franklin wrote down his virtues and reviewed them daily to make sure that he was abiding by his core principles. I did a similar exercise and I’ve found that it keeps me incredibly balanced. It’s a guide and a map for my decision making,” she says.

Do you apply this philosophy to your life? How has it impacted your life and your company? Tweet us with your answers @Wisenapkin

Nov 4, 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.

Nov 1, 2017

The date was February 4, 2013. The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers were going head to head in Super Bowl XLVII. Suddenly, in the third quarter, there was a power outage. For thirty-four minutes, spectators across the globe were held captive by this unprecedented technical difficulty. Then, cookie brand Oreo tweeted “Power out? No Problem, you can still dunk in the dark” with a starkly lit image of an Oreo. Even if you didn’t watch the Super Bowl, chances are you heard about this story, as it was covered by hundreds of major media outlets. Today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom guest and marketing maven, Dave Meerman Scott, has pioneered this concept, known as newsjacking. According to Dave, newsjacking is the art and science of injecting your messages into a breaking news story. “To grow your business, align your marketing to the news of the day. Timing is key,” he remarks, “Very few companies are agile enough to do real time marketing.”

For many marketing departments, their marketing is very proactive. While this is great from an operations standpoint, Dave recommends that priorities are shifted to include time and space for reaction to relevant news articles. “You’re planning on your timetable and not the time table that’s most important to your marketplace. People don’t care about your products and services, but they may care about the story you align yourself with,” he says. Dave shared a few examples of a few of the ways people have successfully executed on this strategy.

Example 1: Trent Silver is a 22-year-old entrepreneur who founded Cash For Purses, a company that purchases used, high end handbags, fixes them and resales them to consignment shops. When he saw the breaking news story that Lindsay Lohan was having money troubles, he wrote a blog post offering to purchase her handbags. He then sent this blog to a few editors. The response was astounding: he was featured in TMZ, Radar Online, Huffington Post and more. Additionally, this generated over 8000 inquiries and a quarter of a million dollars in revenue.

Example 2: Mitch Jackson is a senior partner at Jackson & Wilson Law Firm, a legal practice in California. He blogs about the legal ramifications of breaking news stories (Charlie Sheen’s HIV announcement, Bill Cosby’s case and more). This has led to journalists quoting him and using him as a source in for their stories. He’s generated multimillion dollar settlements from this alone.

Example 3: Eloqua CEO Joe Payne realized that his competitor, Market to Lead, had been acquired by Oracle. When he did a web search, the Oracle website had very limited details surrounding this story. He decided to write a blog post detailing the acquisition and what it meant for the industry. Within a day, he was approached and quoted by PC World, Information World and more. Coincidentally enough, Eloqua was purchased by Oracle a little while later. “It was the $16m blog post,” laughs Dave.

For businesses who are looking to share similar success, Dave suggests the following:

  • Have a legitimate tie to the story: Make sure your brand has an authentic connection with the story. Otherwise, this method will look forced.
  • Timing is key: Control the narrative by striking when the iron is hot. Waiting a few days or even a few hours can make your story lose its relevancy or edge.
  • Success takes time: Keep in mind, this success may not be instant. Work to establish your blogging rhythm so that when an opportunity arises, you’re able to pounce.

What newsjacking stories have you noticed lately? Have you tried this concept yourself? Tweet us with your answers @Wisenapkin

Oct 25, 2017

Many of us are familiar with the concept that in order to get the life you want; you have you build it intentionally. However, how can entrepreneurs navigate the pivot from the life they’re living into the life they want? Bri Seeley, founder of the Inspirational Woman Project, explains how she began to live an intentional life when she began to live by this guiding principle: “Life does not get better by chance. Life gets better when you take action towards creating your inspirational life.”

She has spent the last year inspiring women to do the same. After stepping in to help her (current) business partner with an event, Bri found herself hosting what would end up being dubbed The Amplify Collective. Gathering over dinner and wine, about twenty women discussed their passions and vulnerabilities for about 2-3 hours. Realizing that they had stumbled upon something special, Bri and her partner began to throw several more events over the next few months, all of which sold out nearly immediately. But Bri wasn’t always living such a purpose filled life. 

Prior to adopting this as her guiding principle, Bri admits she was stumbling throughout life. She was running a fashion company alongside her day job. While it was once her passion, she felt like she was running in a hamster wheel, “I was amassing massive amounts of debt. It was time to begin taking action in a purposeful way.” In 2015, she closed down her fashion brand and began going through the redefinition process.

Redefining her purpose proved to be tough. Because many people only knew her as a fashion designer, she had difficulty getting people in line with her new vision. “It was like walking up to a blank canvas and saying I get to choose what I create. And it was terrifying.” When crafting her new vision, she began to evaluate what she had accomplished in the previous years. Bri realized that in her previous entrepreneurial venture, she enjoyed inspiring women to look and feel feminine. She decided to take everything she had been doing for the last several years and translate those experiences into an organization that focuses on women empowerment.

Upon this newfound realization, Bri discovered that there was a certain persistence that had to be had in order to maintain her new direction. “I record an audio that details all of the good I want in my life for that month. It allows me to bask in the actions that I’m taking and the purpose I’m living in. I listen to it every day,” she says. Sometimes she doesn’t reach all of her goals, but she takes the time to appreciate what she has accomplished, “The more you hear it, the more you align it.” Bri also follows a morning routine that has allowed for her to stay aligned with her purpose. From 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., she takes “me time”- sometimes, this involves coloring for hours; other times, she’ll go to her rooftop for yoga. “I just listen to my body and do what it wants,” she says.

By maintaining a balance between living intentionally, practicing self-care and taking the time to recharge, Bri transformed her life and now empowers other women to do the same. What steps have you taken to live an intentional life as an entrepreneur? Tweet us with your answers at @WiseNapkin.

Oct 18, 2017

Data is the new black. Over 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past two years; and on average, people consume nearly 30 GB of data per day. From entrepreneurs to CMO’s of Fortune 500 companies, people simply can’t get enough of it. But often times, organizations hit a standstill because they don’t understand how to properly leverage the data to drive actionable results.

In some cases, it’s simply because they’re not looking at data through the right lens. John Johnson is a trained statistician, data consultant, expert witness and founder of Edgeworth Economics, based out of Washington, D.C. Author of the newly released book Every Data, he explains how  some businesses neglect to properly harness this information and what they can do to begin collecting purpose driven data.

“Statistics and data can be powerful, but very misleading. As a statistician, I think about the world from a data driven perspective. But what I’ve noticed is that averages are just like a snapshot,” Johnson says, “It just explains one frame and sometimes neglects to tell the whole story. This can lead to terrible decision making.” A good example to illustrate this point is to compare the average salary of a mayor across America (around $60,000) with the salary of a deputy mayor (around $80,000).

At an initial glance, it may seem confusing that a deputy major earns less than an actual mayor. However, these data points fail to consider that only larger cities like New York and Philadelphia have deputy mayors, while every small town and metropolis have mayors. “What you’re averaging can dramatically skew the results. Thinking deeper about data will help [business owners] make more sense of it,” he says.

Speaking of “average”, John is the exact opposite. Back in 2010, he developed a company of “wiz kids”, which wasn’t necessarily the norm. “In a typical firm like ours, you see older people working with their much young apprentices,” he explains. By refusing to settle for the average, he has since expanded his firm to 80 employees in three offices.

For companies looking to improve their data collection or analyzation methods, John suggests the following:

1. Make sure the data you’re reviewing is correct: The first step in analyzing your data is to make sure it’s the correct data set. When the temperature control company NEST was bought by Google, the ticker jumped by 1900% in one day. Unfortunately, that ticker wasn’t for NEST – it was for a similarly named penny stock that had gone bankrupt. Slowing down and taking time to review which data you’re looking at is essential to the success of your data analyzation efforts.

2. Determine what question the data is trying to solve: While some people can be data hoarders, this leads to massive efforts for data mining that isn’t even useful or applicable. Take the time to sit down and decide which problem you’d like for your data to solve, prior to gathering several data points.

Have you ever fallen victim to bad data practices? What did you do to fix it? Let us know by sending us a tweet at @WiseNapkin.

Oct 11, 2017

Are you a victim of squirrel syndrome? Based on some fairly unscientific research, about 2 in 3 entrepreneurs are burdened by this affliction. The biggest symptoms include being attracted by every “shiny” thing that comes along, coupled with the inability to say no. But is this hurting your business? Joe Calloway, author, consultant and Executive in Residence at Belmont University’s Center for Entrepreneurship, argues that it is. Having worked extensively with organizations of all sizes and growth cycles, Joe credits the success of many entrepreneurs to one simple adage: “Say no to almost everything.”

Inspired by Warren Buffet, this idea is what separates normal successful people from very successful people, Joe believes. At the beginning of his career, Joe struggled with saying “no” and suffered the consequences. After adopting this concept as his mantra, he began to say “no” more often and started to really hone in on the things he was saying “yes” to.

Another side effect of squirrel syndrome is becoming frozen due to a lack of tunnel vision on the ultimate purpose. Having worked with entrepreneurs for years, Joe has witnessed organizations struggle with this repeatedly. “More often than not, it’s better to make bad decisions than to be frozen. Entrepreneurs will always learn from their mistakes, but they will learn nothing from standing still. As opposed to being frozen, mistakes help you learn your strengths,” he adds. He also suggests that entrepreneurs measures what happens after these decisions.

In addition to learning how to say “no”, it’s important for entrepreneurs to leave room for the “yes”. Joe advises that entrepreneurs should learn how to prioritize their “yes” based on their brand values. “Entrepreneurs and companies should learn to do three or four things extremely well, and with great consistency. It’s all about balance,” he advises.

As leaders, entrepreneurs need to become skilled at saying “yes” to the right things at the right time. “Company owners must remain consistent about the things they say ‘yes’ to,” he says, “Consistency coupled with innovation is how leaders become great.” He also advises that company owners align their entire team on their “yes” – that is, a single vision which encompasses the one thing every team member will always say “yes” to.

Refusing to say “no” to things makes it impossible to simplify your purpose, cut out the noise and move forward. What are some of the things you will begin to say “no” to? Can you identify three things you’ll always say yes to? Let us know in the comments below.

Oct 4, 2017

Nothing quite compares to the beauty of a Rembrandt. While many of us have only gazed at the priceless artwork behind the glass, imagine having one of his paintings in your attic. Think for a minute about the wasted value of having such a beautiful piece covered up and hidden in your attic.

Long time Paper Napkin Wisdom fans may remember speaker and author Andrew Sherman’s Paper Napkin Wisdom when he appeared on the show back in 2014. Today, he’s back with another gem that he hopes will help organizations of all sizes to reduce their intellectual waste. Using agricultural metaphor, he says, “Be an intellectual capital agrarian. Harvest your intangible assets before they rot on the vine.” That’s a heavy statement, so let’s dissect it a bit.

“I hate waste. I hate it so much, I gave a TED Talk about it,” Andrew explains. He began to think about waste even more when he read the Kevin G. Rivette classic Rembrandts in the Attic, nearly 15 years ago. After ten years of living by this philosophy, he realized one critical flaw in the book – “Rembrandts retain their value but most intangible assets do not,” he says. The notion was straightforward - inside companies of all sizes, intellectual capital assets or Rembrandts are being wasted. To find them, business owners may have to look in places they normally wouldn’t.

These lessons ripple out over several industries. Several companies have gained popularity by noticing the potential wasted assets in other verticals. Take Hotwire, for example. Instead of letting rooms “rot”, they learned to harvest those assets and have turned them into something useful for consumers.

Entitling his book Harvesting Intangible Assets, Andrew explains, “I decided to look at innovation as if it was similar to the agrarian process for farmers. The book is meant to help small businesses notice the intellectual property within their company.” Some smaller businesses may argue that they don’t have as many intangible assets, but Andrew’s idea encompasses the notion that small businesses should also look for licensing opportunities or “Rembrandts in other attics”.

Much thought was put into the agrarian metaphor. By definition, an agrarian relates to the cultivation of land or a person who advocates a redistribution of landed property, especially as part of a social movement. Business owners who look to apply this method to their organizations need to follow the agrarian process closely. For instance, farmers plan out their crops months in advance of the planting and harvest seasons.

This is comparable to business owners making sure that there will be a need for the asset in the coming months and years, while waiting on the planting and harvest seasons to commence. When looking at this concept on a global scale, Andrew thinks that other international companies are “eating our lunch”. He believes that in order for North America to compete on a global scale, there needs to be a mass adoption of this concept.

While developing new ideas is never frowned upon, entrepreneurs should look to cultivate the talent and ideas in their backyard. What Rembrandts may be hiding in your attic? How do you plan on discovering and cultivating those assets?

Sep 30, 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.

Sep 27, 2017

The business math equation S (sales) – E (expenses) = P (profit) has been widely accepted for years. However, entrepreneur and author Mike Michalowicz doesn’t quite see it that way. “83% of small businesses in the US are surviving check to check, some of whom follow this model. From a behavioral perspective, what happens last matters least,” Mike says, “Take your profit first and you will reverse engineer your profit forever.” While some may scoff at this notion, in today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom, he explains how a shift in thought process and subsequent actions can revolutionize small businesses forever.

This concept is best compared to Parkinson’s Law, which states that our behavior adjusts around the supply. Take toothpaste, for example. Upon purchasing a new tube of toothpaste, most people are less frugal with it than when they’re on their last squeeze of the same tube. To apply this theory to business, Mike argues that if companies follow a different equation – S- P = E – they will reduce spending and maximize their bottom line. It’s similar to a popular personal finance method – the 401k. By readjusting your spending based on what you’re bringing in, it will increase your bottom line over time.

Additionally, operating this way forces business owners to become radically innovative. One of the businesses Mike owns, a leather manufacturing company based out of St. Louis, was running into a problem. The equipment they needed to develop their product cost a whopping $40,000. Instead of making that investment, which would have greatly reduced their profit, they got crafty. After a few trips to Home Depot and some trial and error, they invented a molding mechanism that only costs around $200 to produce. “Our competitors were using the same [$40,000 machine], and our profit margins sky rocketed,” he says. He urges that using this model forces businesses to think outside of the box.

But in 2008, Mike would have probably initially scoffed at this advice. He had sold two companies and became an angel investor, which he recalls being a horrible experience. He hit rock bottom. “I was $50,000 in credit card debt, and I was driving a beat up Durango that only had two radio stations,” he admits. Deciding that it was time for a change, he began reading The Richest Man in Babylon and similar books. A light bulb went off – he realized that while people had applied the “Pay Yourself First” mentality to personal finances, no one had taken that approach to business. He began to test the concept with his own business and the businesses of friends, and noticed he was on to something.

So, how can a company go from their current approach to Mike’s method? He suggests starting small -open a separate savings account and allocate 1% of every check into this separate account. “If you can run your business on $10,000, you can probably run it on $9,900. Set that extra $900 aside. While you may not amass a life changing sum of money, your mind set will definitely shift,” he advises.

After making these changes, Mike urges businesses to not reinvest that money into the business, “When it’s not profitable, we will start to resent our business. Those distributions and profits help you celebrate your entrepreneurship and your innovation.” Every quarter, he has a quarterly pause where he and his business partner discuss their successes from the month, along with any failures. This occurs after they both receive their quarterly distribution. While Mike doesn’t reinvest his distributions into the company, he does ensure that he reinvests the profit into his employees. “It’s very important that everyone has a vested interest in the success of the business,” he says. While the profits may not be publicized, he does make sure to explain to each team member how they can benefit from being frugal with company funds.

By combining a shift in mindset with a pivot from traditional methods, Mike’s formula has led to profit increases for hundreds of businesses. What do you think of his method? Tweet us with your answers at @WiseNapkin.

Sep 20, 2017

In an age where everyone can pick up their smartphones and become an instant “expert” on any topic, how can entrepreneurs market their knowledge to their consumers? Millennial money expert and author of The Broke and the Beautiful Life, Stefanie O’Connell thinks it has a lot to do with packaging. No, she isn’t referring to big bows or pretty wrapping paper. She poses that while information isn’t propriety, experiences are.  Instead of hoarding knowledge, entrepreneurs should find a way to package their experiences in a way that’s meaningful for other people.

In 2008, Stefanie was a recent college graduate, utilizing her degree in theater to travel the world and live her dream. However, due to the late 2008 recession, she was forced to return to New York. “I got a job that paid $225. While it was very fulfilling, it wasn’t exactly financially viable. I was the epitome of a starving artist,” she recalls.  After taking up a friend’s offer to read Suze Orman’s The Young, Broke & Fabulous, she became enthralled with the idea of money management. She ended up becoming a resource for her friends and began sharing her money management advice on a blog. This turned into a book (The Broke & Beautiful Life).

“Financial advice is pretty straightforward and some view it as boring,” says Stefanie. However, she paired her own experiences with age old financial advice to develop a platform that was both relatable and helpful. Instead of telling readers to start an emergency fund, she details the time when she broke down in tears at a dentist’s office because she was unable to pay $2000 for a necessary procedure. “By tapping into the details, you evoke an immediate emotional response from a reader or consumer. I create the urgency by sharing my experiences,” Stefanie says.

Balancing information and experiences can often be tough, especially when entrepreneurs find themselves in situations where they’re not driving the conversation. Stefanie likes to have “talking points with a point of view” for these situations. She draws on her drama background to pair words together to drive home certain points for her audience. “The aspect of storytelling is very valuable, no matter what industry. No one is going to care what you know if you’re not coming across in a way that’s relatable,” she says. Stefanie also stresses the importance of knowing the audience and finding ways to add segmented value.  

Being relatable and changing the conversation from a monologue to a dialogue means doing research to discover your audience’s needs. Stefanie spends a lot of time dialoguing with her audience in order to do just that. “I even look up Amazon book reviews to see which books in my sector have received two or three stars and check to see what was missing,” she says. Additionally, as a financial advisor who specifically focuses on women and millennials, she takes caution to only listen to feedback which will add value to her audience. “If someone begins to tell me that I need to focus on providing Baby Boomers with retirement advice, I typically shy away from that because it doesn’t speak to my niche,” she says.

For entrepreneurs that worry they will run out of experiences to share, Stefanie says that she hunts down other experiences by simply taking interesting people out for coffee. “I know that the first thing financial advisors typically say is to cut out coffee from your budget. But I have enjoyed an incredible ROI from that tactic,” she laughs. And, when talking about what experiences she plans to share in the future, she started doing a dream bio exercise, where she writes up her dream bio then compares it to her to-do list. “It’s very important that I’m intentional about that alignment,” she notes.

What are some ways you can package your experiences into something that’s helpful for your audience/customers? Tweet us with your answers at @WiseNapkin!

1 2 3 Next »