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 currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”    – Keith Ferrazzi

Networking goes beyond meeting people and collecting business cards. It’s more than meetings and getting coffee. Networking is making friends and building real relationships. It can happen in unexpected places and doesn’t always involved “business.” At the heart of it must be your willingness to help others and expect nothing in return.

The Pressure of the Pitch

How to Maintain Your Composure and Pitch Under PressureKeep Calm and Pitch

Giving an elevator pitch can be a terrifying experience. Whether you’re pitching in a competition in front of hundreds of people, pitching to wealthy and successful investors, or trying to land that much needed new client or job, it can seem like your entire future is dependent on those few seconds you have to pitch. The words that come out of your mouth can make or break the deal. And what if stage fright sets in and you forget everything? It could be your worst nightmare coming to life. Yikes! Who would ever want to pitch?

Well, pitching doesn’t have to be scary. It can actually be fun! If you’re enjoying yourself while you’re pitching, that energy is going to translate to your audience and they’re going to enjoy it more. And a happy and engaged audience is what we want!

So how can you get to that point where you are excited to pitch and are not nervously psyching yourself out? Here are 3 tips to help you maintain your composure and pull off a successful pitch in a high pressure situation.

1) Practice Makes Perfect
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, and it’s true. The more practice you have saying your pitch, the more comfortable you will feel with it, and the more comfortable you are, the more conversational and natural it will sound. With enough practice, anything can become second nature and the goal is to be able to say your pitch so easily that you don’t even have to think about it. If you’ve practiced your pitch enough, even when the nerves set it, you will be mentally prepared and your pitch will come to you. Be sure to practice the different key elements of your pitch individually, so you are confident with every section and can pick it up no matter where you leave off. This will also help you avoid sounding too overly rehearsed, which can come across as insincere to the audience.

2) Say It And Forget It
Have you ever heard someone give a presentation, realized they missed a point, and then try to go back and touch upon it or add in some extra words? Up until that point, you probably didn’t know that they messed up or forgot anything. But as soon as they tried to add it in or repeat themselves, it became obvious. This is what you DON’T want to do. When you are giving your pitch, if you pass a section and miss a point, move on. To have a cohesive, smooth pitch, the best thing you can do is to continue the pitch and save any part you missed for later, whether as a follow up or as an answer to a question. Trying to add pieces back into your pitch can become confusing to the audience and distracts them into concentrating on what part you messed up. Remember, YOU know YOUR pitch. THEY don’t! That’s the whole reason you are telling them! So if you forget something, don’t try to overanalyze it and throw yourself off track because of this mishap; simply move forward. Chances are they won’t even know that anything was off.

3) You Are The Expert
One thing that tends to make most people nervous is thinking about what others will think. Whatever you are pitching – your product, service, company, or even yourself – remember that YOU are the expert! Others will be looking to you for the answers, so don’t second guess yourself. Treat your pitch as simply a conversation in which you are telling someone else about something that you know more about. Getting lost in the idea that someone else is judging you on your pitch can be nerve-racking and may cause you to lose sight of the end goal. Have confidence in yourself and in your pitch, and remember that when it comes to your pitch, you are the expert!

Remember that you are probably your own worst critic. However bad you think your pitch went, chances are it went much better than that. To help you get over some of the mental torture that you’ll inevitably place on yourself, remember to use these pitch tips to help you avoid some of the nervous pitfalls and remain cool, calm, and collected.

The Break Up

“Sometimes you must forget what you feel and remember what you deserve.”

They say that breaking up is hard to do, and at times, that’s an understatement. I’m going through one of the hardest breakups of my life, and this breakup is with my company.

Ending your relationship with another human being is just like ending your time at a company. Many businesses take on personalities, as entities themselves, and you can end up spending years loving what you do and what it stands for, falling in love with the business. For an organization that I’ve spent years growing (and growing with), nurturing, agonizing over and promoting, strengthening and protecting, although I’m not a founder, a part of me views it as my baby. I’ve grown fond of the company, everything it represents, and it’s potential.

Yet due to a myriad of reasons, it’s time for me to leave and move onto the next chapter in my career. I’ve come to the realization that I cannot control everything, nor can I fix everything, and in my current situation certain things are negatively affecting the organization that I care so deeply about. Months and years of repetition have made me realize that change is not in the near future, and I need to focus my efforts on opportunities where I can actively make the most impact. I recently heard an entrepreneur speak and he made a startling comparison that a dying organization is like cancer, and putting a band aid on cancer will not cure it.

So it’s time to break up. As hard as this may be, it has to be done. I’m not quitting, but simply refocusing my efforts into a new channel that will make a difference. Onto a new opportunity and a new adventure.

“Everything happens for a reason.
That reason causes change.
Sometimes the change hurts.
Sometimes the change is hard.
But in the end it’s all for the best.”