Many years ago I stood with an older colleague on the deck
of his beautiful home as we talked about where he was in life, the challenges
he was facing, and the stress that was piled on him that most people did not
know about. On this occasion, he muttered
a phrase that has stuck with me to this day.
As the summer humidity hung in the air, he looked out over the city and
said, “Bob, most men live lives of quiet desperation and no one ever knows
about it.” It had a chilling effect on
me that night and it is something I have grown to better understand over the
years. Here stood a man who had
accomplished so much in life, had every sign of material and corporate success,
beautiful family, the life that most people dream about and yet he was
Being a close friend and confidant, I knew he felt
trapped. He was anchored in life, in a
career that left him unfulfilled but always yearning for more, trapped by his
material success and not even enjoying it.
He was on a treadmill where the pace continued to increase and he was
tiring but could not jump off. It was
easy to see he had all the wrong anchors in life.
There are good anchors like family, faith, and traditions
that keep us anchored and grounded on our journey in life. We need to build and protect those anchors. They become the bedrock upon which we can
create a meaningful life. However, there
are negative anchors that hurt people as they start to build their careers and
those are ones we need to understand and navigate carefully.
In my FoxNews article, “How to Build a Full-Time Life in a
Part-Time World” I listed seven things people can do to have success in
navigating through a challenging economy and job market. The second tip I gave was to avoid
anchors. Those coming out of college
looking to land a job need to be flexible and to build a life that allows them
to transition quickly in their twenties and thirties as they maneuver in this
new economy, take different positions, work with multiple companies, and craft
a career that will look very different from their parents and grandparents.
The same flexibility is needed for the mid-career
professionals and a new growing demographic, the 55+ year olds who are crafting
a second career for the next stage in life.
Over the past year, I have spoken with young and old
alike who are navigating this economy and have been amazed at the anchors they
place in their lives that prevent them from taking great job
opportunities. Here are common phrases I
I don’t want to leave this city.
I need to live near my family.
I can’t sell my house.
I need to make “X” so I can’t take that new
position because it would be a step backwards even though in the long run it
would be a greater opportunity for me.
This sounds like a great opportunity but I was
looking for something else and this sounds like a difficult assignment.
The anchors come in forms of physical constraints like
needing to be locked into geography or having lifestyles that prevent them from
being flexible. The anchors can also
come in the form of mental barriers such as a perception or fear. Both hinder the individual from being able to
seize and maximize great opportunities when they are presented.
Advice for Millennials
My friend and colleague, Calvin Dillinger has written an
excellent piece for millennials titled "Upgrade You." He gives great advice on things to avoid and how to save money. If followed, this can
help prevent anchors, reduce debt, build cash reserves, and help establish a life where you can be flexible
and transition quickly when opportunities are presented.
Don't Build Your Prison
Looking back on that night many years ago with my
friend talking about the issues he was facing his anchors will resonate more with the mid-career
professional who feels trapped. He had created anchors in his life
that became a prison. He was on a
career path he could not change because of his lifestyle…multiple homes, boats,
and the monthly overhead to keep it all going.
He had crafted a public perception of success and he could not walk away
from this life. He had created his own
prison that he could not escape although he was talented in many other areas
and could have been successful at many things.
To this day, with a smile on his face and cheerful greeting to those
around him he labors down that path but is quietly unhappy and unfulfilled every
minute of the day.
His words will stay with me for the rest of my life and I
will continue to use them as a cautionary tale to those seeking advice on how
to plan a successful life. In my last
post, I wrote about making sure that we are in alignment with our gifts,
skill-sets, and passions because only then will we be able to work towards a
career that is meaningful to us and those around us. Do you want to make a difference in the
world? Start with doing something you
love and are passionate about. Only then
will you really unlock your potential to be able to exponentially make the
world a better place.
How to Stay Flexible
With that said, here is my parting advice on avoiding
anchors in your life. I have seen these
to be big anchors that hinder people from seizing great opportunities that are
presented to them.
1) Debt = Work hard to stay out of debt. The more debt you have the less flexible you are and the less options available to you.
2) Geography = Early in your career don’t lock
yourself into a location. Be willing to
move often to take new jobs and advance within your company or industry. Being flexible so you can move is a key to advance in this economy.
3) Mortgages = Be careful when you do decide to buy
a home…this can be a very big anchor in your life. If you do things right this will not be an
anchor. Your mentor can help you with one.
4) Lack of Long-term plan = If you are married have
an understanding with your spouse on what level of flexibility and risk taking
you both feel is okay for your family.
Both partners need to be on the same page. Have a plan and be working on it together!
5) Lack of Liquidity = Maintain a cash
reserve. In business they say “Cash is
king” and in your life “Cash equals flexibility.”
Start with self-awareness about your skills, passions, and
goals. Then avoid anchors to help you as
you start your career as well as help you transition and progress throughout
your career. There is nothing I enjoy
more than seeing someone operate within their sweet spot, being passionate
about what they do, and helping others do the same.
A Great Example
The best example I have to offer is my friend Jeremie
Kubicek who is the Founder of Giant Impact.
Jeremie operated for years as the CEO of Giant Impact but he realized
his passion was teaching and inspiring others and he wanted to do more of that.
He recently sold everything he had and
moved his family to London to start a new division in the company that helps
executives and leaders maximize their potential. His keen understanding of his gifts and
passions combined with his flexibility and alignment with his wife and children
has allowed him to embark on an incredible journey and he is impacting world
leaders right now because of it. As you
take The Leap at the beginning of your career or later in life he is a great
role model to inspire all of us.
If you have questions, contact me at RobertDickieIII or via e-mail at RobertDickieIII@gmail.com.
As an officer in the United States Air Force I often heard the phrase “If
you don’t have a plan, you are planning to fail.” This wise counsel is not only great advice
for leaders preparing for combat operations but it is crucial for those
in the job market today looking to have success finding a job, launching a new start-up business, or working to reach long-term career goals.
The reality is that without help it can be hard to build a plan and then execute it. With a trusted mentor or advisor helping us it can be much easier but it will still require time and thought to put
it all down in a written document so we can reference it regularly and make
sure that we are on track.
First of all, we need to know where we are and where we want to go. When you are orienteering in
the woods, knowing your location is a critical first step to getting to your
You might think, “I know where I am…I’m a student looking
for a job” or “I’m about to launch a new start-up company.” Unfortunately this is not what we are talking
about. We need to go deeper. Who you are can tell you where you are. Finding out about who you are, your gifts,
skill-sets, desires, and values will tell you where you are in life. This is your starting point. From there you can build a career plan that
will maximize your talents and gifts to help you achieve a life of meaning and
This may sound strange but finding out about YOU is the best
place to start. We have all heard wise
counselors give advice to people to be themselves, go against the current, take
a different path, or don’t follow the herd.
This is great advice but I want to tell you about when we should go
with the current not against it.
The Bible says that “everyone is fearfully and wonderfully made.” God made each of us as unique as a
fingerprint. You and I are totally
different and there will never be another person like us…EVER! God has given each of us special talents,
skills, desires, and passions in his unique design for our lives. When we understand how we are hard-wired and
we pursue a career that is in total alignment with our skills, life is much
easier. It is like we are swimming in a
river with a powerful current that is helping us reach our destination. If however, we don’ understand how we are
made with our unique values and talents, we could find ourselves on a path of
study or in a career where we are misaligned and that is when life is extremely
difficult. Every day it feels like we
are swimming upstream against the current.
It is hard work, painful, and sometimes full of misery. If you know someone who is struggling in
life and not happy with their job or course of study, it is possible they are misaligned
in a key area of their life.
So how do we find out who we are so we can begin to build a
life plan and start our journey? Over
ten years ago multiple Professors and Ph.d candidates at the University of Georgia set out to design a
unique assessment to help people begin this process. After thousands of hours and
millions of dollars in investment Career Direct was born. Over 250,000 people have used this assessment
to build a life plan and make sure they were in alignment with how God made
I highly recommend this service as the starting point to
understand your skills, talents, values, and goals. Once you know this you will better understand
where you should invest your time in your course work and in the workforce so
you can maximize these gifts to help you achieve your goals. You will live a life of purpose and meaning
because you will be aligned with how you were made. My close friend, Handre DeJongh from South Africa is a trained Career Direct Consultant having done over 1,200 personal in depth consultations and he says that a person living life that is misaligned is like tasting bitter coffee. Life is too short to live bitter...it is time to live better! Crown offers counselors like Handre who will walk you through this
program and help you understand your results and guide you in creating a life
plan to reach your objectives so you can live a life of passion and fulfillment.
you understand yourself deeper and have clarity on your "life plan" it
is now time to build an action plan to achieve your goals. For business owners and entrepreneurs the
next step is developing your business plan.
I recommend the Venture Analysis.
Wade Myers as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) would
charge Fortune 500 clients $60,000 to start this process. He took the exact formulas, charts, and
analysis and developed the Venture Analysis and Start-up Financial Model that
all entrepreneurs could afford. Whether
you are launching a start-up or running an established business you will be
amazed at the insights and information this analysis will give you about your
Once we understand our talents and skill sets and have a
business plan that we can execute against the next step in our process is all about avoiding ANCHORS! If you have questions, contact me at RobertDickieIII or via e-mail at RobertDickieIII@gmail.com.
The unemployment numbers released last week that report an unemployment rate in this country of 7.4% and the anemic creation of 162k jobs in
July down from our 2013 monthly average of 192k per month hid startling statistics of the new economy.
In 2013 77% of the jobs that have been created were part-time. When you calculate the
unemployment numbers with the number of Americans under-employed (working less
than 35 hours a week) our unemployment rate is actually around 14.3% reports
the New York Times.
This is the slowest recovery in the past 70 years with
unemployment rising, part-time jobs becoming the norm, incomes decreasing, and
those with savings facing a “no-margin” investment era. It is official, we have a new economy with
new rules. To win and have success in
this new era we cannot play the game with the rules of the past. This is not our grandparent’s economy.
This past week I wrote an article in FoxNews titled Jobs hunt getting you down -- how to build a full-time
life in a part-time world. I provide 7
tips for those looking to have success in this new era. An interesting aspect I was not able to
elaborate on in this piece is the fact that due to the dire jobs situation in
this country entrepreneurship is rapidly increasing. From 2000-2007 it has been reported that at
the top MBA programs in the country upwards of 50% sought jobs in the finance
sector upon graduation. After the crash
of 2007 graduates at those same institutions have been rushing to become entrepreneurs with a growth rate that has tripled in the past three years.
Clearly they see the game has changed as well and are
seeking the best opportunity available by taking matters into their own hands
and creating their future by starting a company and becoming an
entrepreneur. The tips I provided in my
article apply to both the person looking for a job or the entrepreneur looking
to create a company and build value for themselves, their employees, and
Success tip number one is “Plan Deliberately.” Having a plan that is written down that you
can execute against is critical to success.
It has been said if you don’t have a plan you are planning to fail. As a starting point for all aspiring
entrepreneurs and those in the job hunt I recommend taking a Career Direct assessment
test and using this as a foundation in your career plan. This tool can be expanded with your mentor or
advisor and will help you make sure that you are on the right path based on
your skills, likes, and values. Nothing
is worse than getting to the end of your journey to find out that you hate the
location you have been striving to reach.
Finally, for those who are beginning or are already on their
entrepreneurial journey and wish they had more formal business education and
training I recommend looking at the Venture Academy video series by Wade
Myers. Wade is a Harvard MBA and Baker
Scholar (graduated Top 5% of his class at Harvard) and has been a successful
venture capitalist that started over 20 companies. Wade had a goal of providing a Harvard MBA
style education to the masses using a video based system and online resources. His system uses Harvard cases studies and
goes through all aspects of business acumen.
You can learn more of about this great program at Venture Academy -- Starting Up. If you have any questions regarding my
article or these programs please write me below and I will be glad to answer
them for you.
Remember, taking action helps remove fear. If you have been thinking about starting down
a new career path or starting on your entrepreneurial journey don’t waste any
more time. Take the first step or better yet...THE LEAP!
Unemployment and underemployment levels remain well above
normal as the global economy continues to slow.
An economist at Harvard Business School recently stated the world needs
to prepare for potential contraction of the global economy by 2-3% per year for
the next few years. What does this mean
for the workforce here in the United States?
College graduates are entering an environment where finding a job is
difficult. Mid-career professionals
don’t have as many options as in the past and older workers are having a
difficult time making transitions and finding work before they retire. I am faced with these situations every day as
I am asked for help by friends and contacts who find themselves in transition.
Today on FoxNews.com my article titled “Let’s Get to Work”
gives practical advice and eight proven tips to help those looking for their
dream job in 2013. We all realize the
rules of the game have changed so we must change the way we operate. You might not be in transition or looking for
a job right now but it is highly likely that you will be in the future. What you do right now can prepare you for
success when that day comes.
Did you know that college graduates today can expect to
change jobs 10 times in their careers?
Long gone are the days when my family members in Michigan could enter a
GM plant right after high school and have employment with the company for
thirty years. We can lament the
situation or prepare for the future. We
have entered the “free agent” economy and those who know how to play the game
will win and those who don’t will lose. I
think this new world offers amazing opportunity and flexibility for everyone in
the workforce from entrepreneurs and employees alike.
This free agent economy will offer flexibility, opportunity,
and excitement to those who know the rules, prepare to play the game, and
execute with precision. In the coming
weeks ahead I will let you know how this economy is different, how to prepare,
and how to be successful as someone in transition. No one likes change but we all know it comes
whether we like it or not. Those who
prepare have nothing to fear. I believe
those who prepare will have great opportunity and amazing success.
This blog has been titled “The Leap” and I have showcased
entrepreneurs who have taken the leap from corporate America to start their own
companies and enterprises as an entrepreneur.
We have highlighted success stories and talked about what to do, tools
that can help lean start-ups have success, and the pit-falls to watch out
for. However, in the new free agent
economy those taking the leap are not just new entrepreneurs but all employees
who are leaping into this new economy whether they know it or not. I hope in the coming weeks this blog will
help those in transition and everyone else prepare for success in this current
economy. Understanding the new dynamics
and creating a plan is the best place to start.
On March 19th our fourth entrepreneurs conference is being held in Birmingham, Alabama. Doing Business in the New Normal will include ten industry leaders coming in to network with attendees and to disucss doing business in this new economy. Guest speakers include Wade Myers, Managing Partner of Cherry Tree Capital and Harvard MBA, Henry Kaestner C0-founder of Bandwidth.com and Sovereigns Capital, Mark Conklin Senior Manager of Chick-fil-A, Peter Greer CEO of Hope International, Patricia Barnes Founder of Sister Schuburt Rolls, Kevin Thompson C0-Founder of Thompson-Burton PLCC and many more. Come join us for a day of insight, learning, and networking.
If you have questions, contact me at RobertDickieIII or via e-mail at RobertDickieIII@gmail.com.
To be a success at anything in life I have found that you need three basic things: a passion for what you are doing, the ability to work tremendously hard, and a total commitment to excellence. I have yet to find anyone that is considered a success in their field that is missing one of these key ingredients.
As a YPO (Young President's Organization) member I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with some amazing entrepreneurs and business leaders. Recently a YPO friend of mine was interviewed on Inc.com. David Morrow is an incredible entrepreneur and has the three traits mentioned above in spades. As an All-American lacrosse player for Princeton he started Warrior Sports in his dorm room to solve a problem, he kept bending his lacrosse stick. He now leads a $200 million a year global business. I have never spent time with him where I did not walk away having learned something important while at the same time being impressed with his complete passion for what he does and his drive to be the best.
In this short video clip, Inc.com asks Dave about the benefits of manufacturing in the US vs. China and even though not asked directly about these traits, you can quickly see them highlighted in his answer. I love his quote, "Your product is the heart and soul of your brand. You have to ensure it is excellent." He built Warrior Sports on a commitment to excellence and that is why when anyone wants to purchase the best lacrosse and hockey equipment in the world they look for the name WARRIOR.
So how do you learn to develop a world-class work ethic, commitment to excellence, and passion for what you do like Dave? I believe that passion for what you do comes from deep inside and you either have it or you don't. It is very hard to inspire someone who dislikes his or her job one day to love it the next. If you don't have passion for what you do, then I suggest you go find something that you LOVE. When you accomplish this, you will never again “work” a day in your life.
These traits can be developed over time with the right mentors while modeling what they do. To be honest, I only want to work with people who display these qualities. Being a part of a team where this is commonplace is exciting. Anything becomes possible! Before long you will have created a “virtuous cycle” of improvement and a culture of excellence. I am also a firm believer that continuous learning and self improvement is important and there is no better place to start than to learn from the leaders in their respective fields.
This Friday I will attend the Chick-Fil-A Leadercast in Atlanta where leaders like Soledad O'Brien, Tim Tebow, Patrick Lencioni, Marcus Buckinham, Urban Myer, Roland Fryer, Angela Ahrendts, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, and Sheena Iyengar will be speaking. This is a world-class event with world-class leaders who are recognized by everyone as being some of the best in their fields. I look forward to hearing what they have to share and I know I will walk away having been motivated to grow and develop as a leader for my organization.
So whether you are taking “The Leap” and starting your own venture, changing careers, or looking for that thing that you are totally passionate about to invest your life in, make sure you have a tremendous work ethic and total commitment to excellence in all you do and you will be successful in any endeavor you tackle.
I could not agree more. If fact I just gave a 45 minute interview this afternoon to the Knoxville Business Journal on this very topic. The reporter was very interested in why there seems to be so much attention and excitement in start-up companies and how the Angel Capital Group is helping companies here in our community and around the United States take the leap. Rachael Qualls, founder of the Angel Capital Group, has done a great job of putting together the largest angel group in the south and she has her sights on our network being the largest in the country. This network and networks like this are playing a very pivotal role in the funding of great new companies and resurgence of our economy.
It has been said that entrepreneurship is the relentless pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled. Entrepreneurs dream and find a way to make it happen. Angel groups like ACG are key partners in this process to help fund start-up companies when the time is right for entrepreneurs to inject investment capital to take their company to the next level.
This was a hot topic of discussion with my Harvard classmates earlier this year as well. We are seeing a perfect storm for entrepreneurs now. Many new tech advancements are allowing start-up founders to boot strap like never before in the early stages. With the changing dynamic of Venture and Angel groups there is a lot of capital ready to be deployed in start-up companies that have a winning idea, great leadership team, and a well tuned business plan.
The difference between an idea and an opportunity is when you have a true business plan and model wrapped around it. Angel groups like ACG help entrepreneurs link strategy with capabilities so they can win. If you have an idea but have been too scared to get started, why wait? You could be about to start the most exciting journey of your life! Take the Leap!
If you have questions, contact me at RobertDickieIII or via e-mail at RobertDickieIII@gmail.com.
I love the short videos FastCompany.com creates. This one is only 3 minutes long but it is packed with some great information to start the week. Amber Mac does a great job and highlights, Xobni, a great service to add more functionality to your inbox. She also interviews Guy Kawasaki about his new book Enchantment which is fantastic by the way.
For the entrepreneurs out there I also recommend checking out Freshbooks.com. I use this for all my invoicing and have it hooked up to my PayPal account for quick payment service. Freshbooks.com is a free service that you can check out and later upgrade to a premium account if you need to. I need to give credit to this great find to my brother-in-law, Kevin Thompson, who uses this for his law practice and turned me on to it.
Finally, if you are looking for a unique finance software check out this new tech start-up that is gaining a lot of traction. My friend Scott Saunders started PayOff.com and this is an amazing FREE service that helps you organize your finances. Check out their board and leadership team. They are going after their second round of funding and I think this has huge potential. I am constantly amazed at how much free information and services are available to build a business.
Can you be a successful entrepreneur and still have time to build balance in your life for you and your family? Richard Branson thinks so. This is a great article in Entrepreneur.com about how he built his successful and dynamic empire yet always had time for his family.
The people I admire most are the ones who have been successful in their endeavors and have always kept their family and those relationships the main thing. I have seen a number of people chase after success only to leave a total train wreck of relationships in their wake. I must admit, I am a workaholic and it is easy for me to fall prey to this type of hard-driving lifestyle so I have a couple of key friends and mentors that hold me accountable and make sure I build balance in my life. My wife Brandi has always been a partner in everything I do and helps me keep on track as a husband, father, and with all the other important relationships in my life and I am blessed to have her in my life.
A few years back my life became so out of balance I asked a close friend to hold me accountable for my personal fitness. He literally came to my front door every morning at 0530 to wake me up for a morning run and he did this for over a year. To this day he calls on me to make sure I am keeping fitness a priority in my life and keeping balanced with the family. That is what true friends do and Gary Brimmer is one of the best friends I have.
As you head into the weekend I hope this article is inspiration for everyone to build balance into your life as you work hard towards your goals. I'd also like to recommend the book The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. This is an incredible book for all you hard charging and driven entrepreneurs and successful business people. It radically changed the way I work and operate.
I highly encourage everyone who follows this blog to take the time to watch this informative free webinar by Wade Myers. Wade is the founder of New Venture Academy and is a successful entrepreneur with years of successful ventures under his belt. He is a former Army officer and Harvard Business School graduate and Baker Scholar. I have found the information on his site to be very beneficial and his webinars contain great information for all entrepreneurs.