3 Tips for Entrepreneurial Success from Bill Rancic

When the first season of The Apprentice aired back in 2004, I remember tuning in each week to watch the aspiring apprentices from across the country take on different business challenges, all in the name of entrepreneurship. It was mesmerizing and inspiring. I remember how lucky I thought Chicago-native Bill Rancic was when Donald Trump told him “You’re Hired!”

I was fortunate to finally have the chance to hear Bill Rancic speak at the Small Business Expo held at Navy Pier on April 9, 2015. Bill has lived through some of the most interesting entrepreneurial experiences, from launching a cigar of the month club, to being on reality TV, to constructing Trump Tower Chicago and being a restaurateur. Bill is the definition of an entrepreneur, and his insight lived up to every expectation I had.

Here are the 3 key lessons to entrepreneurial success that I learned from Bill Rancic’s story.

1. Practical Execution

Actions speak louder than words. Unless you’re actively doing and executing, it doesn’t matter what you say. Bill’s father used to tell him that it’s okay if you make a mistake, but it’s never okay if you don’t try. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to go the extra mile. “Be the first guy up and last to leave. When you’re tired, make that extra phone call.” If you don’t take action and don’t execute on your ideas, then it doesn’t mean anything.

2. Be a Conductor 

One key lesson Bill learned from his mentor Donald Trump was that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be a conductor. An orchestra conductor is not an expert of all instruments, but instead a conductor knows how to get all of the musical experts to work together to make beautiful music. In fact, if conductors tried to play all of the instruments and do it all themselves, it wouldn’t work.

The same applies to entrepreneurial leaders. To be successful, you need to let go of your ego and rely on your team of partners, employees and mentors. You should orchestrate all the pieces and lead rather than micro-managing or trying to do everything yourself.

3. Convert Risk into Success

In reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bill said to always do what you’re afraid to do and success will find you. He spoke to reverse engineering your life – twenty years from now, will your future kids or grandkids be proud of who you are and what you’ve done?

It’s important to avoid telling yourself what you want to hear. Make sure you are honest to tap into your potential. Just like when we listen to our voices recorded back on a message or video, it’s a shock to hear what we actually sound like. In our minds, we believe we sound a certain way, but it can come as a surprise to hear that our voice doesn’t sound quite how we imagine it. Only when you accept reality will you be able to be successful.

When Bill was first launching his cigar of the month club, he was struggling to get exposure, and customers. In a clever marketing move, he shipped a letter, cigars and a pair of coke bottle glasses that he taped a note to which referenced taking a closer look. He sent this to radio shows and eventually got the exposure that brought in the customers needed to ensure the success of his company. Bill had to hustle and execute to get things done, take risks and coordinate the success of all the moving pieces. Take a lesson from Bill’s experience and be on you’re on your way closing deals and paving your own entrepreneurial journey.

Originally published on LinkedIn. 


The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Soccer

American Outlaws Edit jpegWith the World Cup in full swing, soccer (aka the rest of the world’s fútbol) has never been more popular in the US, as Americans are embracing their patriotism and rooting for #USA in each action packed and nail biting game.

What these professional athletes have trained their whole life for represents more than just winning the most prestigious international title – it represents an intensity, drive and passion for the game and to win. Here are 4 ways that entrepreneurs can learn from the success of these  fútbol players and apply their strategies to win in their own business.

  1. Be Persistent – Soccer players push themselves to run back and forth across the field for 90 minutes each game. No matter what happens, they never give up and this persistence is what can change the outcome of a game. Entrepreneurs need to have this same tenacity to turn their vision into a reality, no matter what obstacles they face.
  2. It Takes a TeamOne player cannot win the game on his own; winning requires teamwork and everyone applying their strengths to strive towards the same goal. The success of a startup or company also relies on teamwork. Even the success stories that we typically view as solo-entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Mark Zukerburg and Richard Brason, all had help from other people. Knowing your strengths is key and relying on others to help make you stronger can be the difference between a loss and a win.
  3. Stay On Your ToesThe game can change at any minute, as we saw in the recent US vs Portugal game when Portugal clinched a tie with about 30 seconds left in the game. With how quickly innovation occurs, industries can change quickly and affect your business. As an entrepreneur, you need to be aware of what is going on around you, what your competition is doing, and where new opportunities appear. Always stay one step ahead.
  4. Embrace SupportThe World Cup is a great representation of the impact and power of a country’s fans. They come together to show support, root for and encourage their team and their country. In the same respect, a customer base is extremely important for a startup company – these are the individuals that will use and talk about your business, getting the word out and helping promote your brand. Embrace your customers as your fans and give them opportunities to get involved and show their support.

Be an MVP….

Be an MVP.

I was fortunate to attend #MCON14 the last few days in Chicago. This conference explores the social impact that is being shaped by Millenials. So many inspiring, enlightening and smart people came together to share their thoughts and experiences.

This quote in particular was said by Martin Edlund (@MNM_Martin), a founding member and CEO of Malaria No More. When asked about how he got to where he is today, he said it wasn’t so much a career path as a career hack. Martin’s advice for how to have a successful career came down to this – “Be an MVP.” He didn’t mean be the most valuable player, but he meant it in the Lean Startup sense of the word – be the minimum viable product. In the Lean Startup way of thinking, an MVP has only the essential core features that are needed for something to go to market. Martin explained that you can’t prepare yourself for future career opportunities that you may not know exist or that currently don’t exist, as life constantly changes. Instead, you should learn as much as you can about what you are currently doing so that you can be successful where you are now, and when you get to the next job or next stage in life when it presents itself, become the MVP for that.

I personally am someone who is constantly planning for and thinking about the future, but I was very impacted by Martin’s sentiment. In reality, there is only so much that you can prepare for and being the MVP of your life simply means living in the moment and being the best you can be now.