Present-moment entrepreneurship

A company focused on its legacy is a company in decline. A startup that is focused on some future destination remains nothing other than an idea. Only a venture that is fully-alive and relevant to customers and stakeholders in the present moment can be called a success.

In business school, we are taught by case studies (from the past) and we are encouraged to develop plans, strategies and ideas (for the future). Meanwhile, what we are taught to do in the present moment is absolutely nothing of value. By the time we graduate, we have become so attached to lessons from the past that we fail to innovate. We have become so comfortable planning, strategizing, and ambitiously chasing the future that we are blind to what we are actually manifesting into the present moment.

Business relationships are connections that exist in the present moment with people who are aligned with what you are currently doing. Your minds are connected. Your business network is not comprised of everyone you once worked with; rather, it includes only those relationships which are still alive. To burn a bridge is to remove someone from your network by doing something that removes the person from your present moment.

A customer is also someone who exists in the now—someone using your product or service (engagement) or at least thinking about it (mind share). Revenue and growth are directly tied to the quality of customer relationships you have now.

Conventional wisdom in business is all wrong. Established companies don’t fail because they lack future focus; rather, they fail by disappointing the customer in the present moment. Startups don’t fail because of a lack of vision; rather, they fail by neglecting to create value now.

What does it mean to be a present-moment entrepreneur?  It means that, in each action, you have a clear vision what you are bringing into the now. That vision is something you can articulate in a way that makes it feel alive to investors. You facilitate a work environment in which staff naturally enjoy creating that vision now. You build an atmosphere of no stress, no fear, no shaming or blaming, and no attacks. You accept what is and then react to it calmly. You are guided by intuition so that, when something feels wrong, you step back. In talking with stakeholders, in making presentations—in everything you do—you are fully-alive in the present moment and, by extension, you create space for others to join you in the present moment.

This vision of a successful entrepreneur runs contrary to conventional wisdom. We’ve all heard about the enormous sacrifice, the stress, the years spent in painful exhaustion required to build a company. What is created in pain and suffering ultimately offers nothing of value. Even if commercial success is achieved for a time, even in the event of a profitable exit, what has been created in suffering only brings more suffering to the world. A person willing to create pain and misery in the present moment is someone who is…well, nothing more than someone who is creating pain and misery in the present moment. Whatever good you may be trying to do in your mind, that isn’t what you are actually doing. The ends do not justify the means because the ends are the means.

You can pride yourself in past accomplishments or dream of a future that will be great, but what is real is here and now. For a dream to become reality, its truth must exist in the present moment. Maybe your product is not ready for release, but if everything you do is done in a state of present-moment awareness, then it does exist. If you are connecting with investors with presence, then funding is already happening. If you are giving your staff the freedom to enjoy life today, then they are aligned with the pure inspiration that is bringing your vision to life.

In the now, work doesn’t feel like work. You are not working toward something; rather, you have already arrived at your destination. Your senses are sharp, your vision is clear, your decisions and reactions are not undermined by negative emotion. You are at the top of your game. Your life is abundant and easy. What you create in this state is the ultimate realization of your potential. Who you become in this state is who you were meant to become. Go there now.

Posted by Mark Manney.

Ethereum, the Blockchain Revolution, and the Spiritual Shift toward a Decentralized Economy

My thoughts about the decentralized economy that has emerged beyond the reach of centralized authority. Ethereum is shaping a new, fully-decentralized world of freedom and abundance--but only if we are also capable of a spiritual transformation away from ego, materialism, and mind-identification. Decentralization will bring freedom and abundance as we begin to exist in the present moment, identified with Love. 

Posted by Mark Manney.

Spirituality is a constant, daily practice. No single book or idea can deliver permanent change. Does eating one apple mean that you will never again be hungry? Does one workout ensure that you will always be fit?

How could anything exist in your daily life if you do not make it part of your daily life?

Today, read something new. Listen to a lecture or an audio book by someone who has inspired you in the past. Do it again tomorrow and every day after that. Reserve part of your day to explore and discover. Meditate every day.

The only path toward true and lasting change is daily practice.

Posted by Mark Manney.

Ethereum: this changes everything

Maybe you haven't noticed, but the world has changed. While most people were busy complaining about Trump, Brexit, the economy, the injustice of it all--complaining that the world is unfair and convinced that it was all going to hell--along comes an entirely different future. News flash: the future is now and it is called Ethereum.

It's like 1994 all over again (you know, that whole Internet thing). Only this time, we're going to get it right. Ethereum is Web 3.0, but much more than that. It is a new economic system in which there is no centralized power. Read that again. What is the opposite of centralized power? Power to the people. In other words: freedom and abundance for people like you and me.

Ethereum is as unstoppable as Bitcoin; however, is designed to power not only cryptocurrency but also any type of application in a decentralized way over what is called a Blockchain (essentially a database that is distributed over thousands of peer-to-peer computers). Data that is stored on a Blockchain is encrypted, so that only a user with the secure key can access it. You can (and should) research this elsewhere, but let's get to the point: it is now possible to build secure applications for the people on an Internet that is beyond the reach of corporations, intelligence agencies or anyone else. Just when they thought they had won, we are once again free.

What might those new applications do? Well, today it is already possible to trade a currency called Ether with a software wallet (much like Bitcoin is stored and traded). Beyond this, Ethereum has what are called Smart Contracts, which enable two parties to come to an agreement on anything (payment terms, shipment and delivery, profit distribution, whatever). Smart Contracts have already been used to establish virtual organizations called DAOs (Distributed Autonomous Organizations) made up of anonymous individuals. Get it? Companies that exist beyond the real world legal system, using a cryptocurrency. Pinch me.

This is very early-stage technology (though it has already been around for a few years). Ethereum is very much real and it isn't going away. This is the new frontier, the wild west. This is an opportunity that comes along maybe twice in a lifetime. If you get behind it, what follows are decades of prosperity. I'm all in. 


Posted by Mark Manney.

Is Sales Prospecting an Art or a Science?

After 20 years running prospecting campaigns, I am going to share a secret: success in prospecting is not a science, it is an art.

Yes, there is a science to prospecting, but the science only matters after you first master the art. Prospecting science involves metrics (i.e. the numbers game), your use of various channels of communication (email, LinkedIn, cold-calling), the number of follow-ups, open rates, response rates, etc. This is the part that most organizations focus on because it feels safe, understandable, and measurable. The art of prospecting, on the other hand, is the way your message connects with your audience (or doesn’t). The art is the way you convey not just a business value proposition but a deeply human idea or emotion. Without attention to the art, prospecting is only an attempt to execute flawlessly on a bad idea. 

A prospecting email is an expression of an idea. You are an artist, you have a medium, and your purpose is to form new business relationships. To master your art is to use a powerful medium to express a powerful emotion or clear idea. Art also reveals the character and personality of its creator. You are not just prospecting; rather, you are attempting to connect with another human being by using art to bring him or her into a relationship that comes alive. Even if you are “only selling software”, your message either has power (i.e. you get responses and meetings) or it falls completely flat (in which case no metric is going to help you).

Do you believe in what you are selling? If not, either do some creative thinking and soul-searching or go sell something else. If you do believe in it, why? To believe in a product or solution means to believe that it has the potential to improve lives. To believe in security software, for example, means to know that it relieves fear or anxiety that an executive might feel if the company is left exposed to threats and attacks. The features and the commercial aspects of the solution only enter the picture later.

If you do believe in your product and in yourself…well, now you have a clear theme for your art. Find a way to convey your purest intentions sincerely, in a human tone (avoiding marketing-speak), and with character. Do you come across as someone who a CEO would want to form a relationship with? Are you respectful, caring, prepared to serve? Are you able to take a complex idea and make it simple, understandable, and worthy of an executive's time? Seriously, imagine a CEO reading your message (trust me, they do read their emails). Honestly, do you think that your message will be the spark that ignites a valuable, trusting, mutually-beneficial relationship? 

If you are in sales or marketing, then nothing about your job is more important than your message. Your message is your art and a message that delivers results is a masterpiece. Dig deeper into your creative self. Envision your prospect as a human being with human emotions just like yours. Until you are sure that you have created and validated your masterpiece, set aside a few hours per week in silent contemplation. Write different ideas, pay attention to your feelings…your intuition. I have found that, when I have created a masterpiece, I know it even before the message is tested. With enough persistence, you will get there!

Maybe you have tried outbound prospecting or have tried working with lead gen vendors, but did not see the results. If you aren't getting results, that only means you need to focus on the art. You can do it yourself or find help, but by all means don't ignore the art of prospecting. 


Posted by Mark Manney.