By Hugh Blane | Guest Writer
As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve started three companies, bought two and become a partner in another. Through all the ups and downs, I’ve learned a lot about the connection between net worth and self-worth.
My experience and consulting work have led me to this conclusion: If an entrepreneur or executive wants to dramatically increase his net worth, the most effective and fastest path to do so is by dramatically increasing his self-worth. What is self-worth? Primarily, it's a confidence and belief in oneself, a confidence and belief that no matter what adversity comes your way you will be successful in the future. To achieve greater levels of self-worth, individuals and teams benefit from adopting the following three mindset shifts.
1. Focus on value, not money.
When a person's self-worth is underdeveloped, the majority of his day is spent trying to grow or preserve self-esteem. This person will unconsciously focus first on his own well-being and on the customer only secondarily. In all, a person with low self-worth will focus less on extending value to others and more on receiving a personal reward or recognition.
In my own case, I used to believe that if I wanted to be successful, I needed to have a laser focus on financial success to avoid the financial failures my parents experienced. They both passed away with less than $15,000 in assets. Based on my parents’ experience with money, I thought that financial success would provide the peace of mind my parents never had. Yes, financial success did provide me with some peace of mind, but for almost 20 years my focus was solely on my financial well-being and this focus never led to a dramatic increase in my net worth.
When I focused on my financial success, my net worth increased 17 percent. When I shifted my thinking my net worth increased 450 percent.
What did lead to a dramatic increase in my net worth was the shift away from focusing on my success to focusing on the success of others. This shift helped me see that whether focusing on employees or customers, my primary job is to create exquisite value for them. Why exquisite? Because any customer interaction that contains the essence of beauty, gracefulness and magnificence stuns the customer and ensures their loyalty and repeat business. I now call this mindset shift the ECV (exquisite customer value) shift.
ECV at its core is the process of making an employee’s or customer’s life more successful, more satisfied, happier or less stressed. When you create ECV for your employees they will in turn create a more rewarding experience for customers. When you create ECV for your customers they will reward you with more business (aka more money) in exchange for your ECV.
If you want to dramatically increase your opportunities for growth, responsibility and — yes — more money, your focus should not be on the revenue or money you will receive, but on the creation of value for others. Quite simply, the mindset of creating exquisite value for customers requires placing ourselves second to the customer and having a high degree of self-worth. The reward, however, is profound. During that 10-year period when I focused on my financial success, my net worth increased 17 percent. When I shifted my thinking to ECV, my net worth increased 450 percent over the same length of time.
2. Be grateful and generous.
A Jesuit priest told me that the greatest sin was to be ungrateful. He said, “If you wake up in the morning and see the world as a long slow slog through enemy territory with bullets flying over your head, life is endured and not savored. On the other hand, someone who sees and shares the wonder and grandeur of life is a magnet for people.”
He also said that what we extend into our professional and personal lives — be it hope, optimism, generosity, gratefulness or passion — is returned to us in direct proportion without any increase. The more grateful you are, the more generous you become. The more generous you become, the more people will be generous toward you.
Are your employees generous to one another as well as to customers? One of my clients was a $500 million credit union. It had a project team charged with launching a new $3 million service offering, but the team never shared its time, talent or insights with other staff members. Rather, the project team members acted like Ebenezer Scrooge to one another. It wasn’t until the team members learned to be grateful for other staff members’ talents, skills and expertise that the project achieved an additional $1 million in member equity in a single year.
3. Create a success network.
Over the years, I’ve spent time volunteering as a coach and mentor for marginalized youth and their parents. As part of this work, mentors tell kids, “Show me your friends and we’ll show you your future.” Some kids stare back with disinterest — numb from the abuse of drugs or alcohol. However, parents’ faces change with recognition and regret. They realize that for as long as they’ve been concerned with their child’s behavior, their kid's selection of friends has been poor. These parents suddenly understand that they’ve failed to intervene in this critical choice.
As adults, our choices about whom we spend time with are equally as important. Some of your friends or family members may not value financial success, lifestyle satisfaction and a life of generosity. These friends and family members likely prefer that you adhere to their values and stay within their definition of success, holding you back.
As an entrepreneur, it is essential that you be intentional and decide whom to keep in your network.
A coaching client of mine rose quickly through the ranks of leadership to become CEO of a $300 million dollar business. She was very well respected by her professional colleagues due to an exemplary work history, but at home the refrain from family and friends was about “getting too big for her britches” and “being the big shot CEO.”
After a year of asking for a different level of support and checking her ego continually, she finally told me she had had enough. “This isn’t about me. It’s about their insecurities around my success, and frankly, I need a break from it.”
We sometimes fear removing ourselves from these types of people, because we are humans with a deep need for social connection and because it is hard to turn away from family. However, when we keep unsupportive individuals close, we end up with our foot on the brake of our success and well-being. As an entrepreneur it is essential that you be intentional and decide whom to keep in your network, with an honest appraisal of who is propelling your success — versus who is holding you back.
When you combine creating ECV with a generous spirit and a network of success-minded people, your net worth will dramatically increase.
Which one of the three mindset shifts I’ve discussed will create a dramatic new trajectory for you, your employees and your customers — if you decide to embrace it?
About the Author
Hugh Blane is the president of Claris Consulting and is an advisor to executives and entrepreneurs for creating dramatic, positive and measurable change in the leadership of individuals and teams — guaranteed. His work centers on helping executives and entrepreneurs challenge assumptions, jettison complacency and catapult growth. He is the author of "7 Principles of Transformational Leadership: Create A Mindset of Passion Innovation and Growth," and his clients include Sony Pictures, Starbucks, Seattle Credit Union, Nordstrom, Pepperdine University, KPMG and Costco. He publishes a top blog on leadership and mindset, and is an in-demand speaker.
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