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Leverage

The goal of the Leverage Podcast is simple: to learn from the best and discover how we can all live a better life, build a more fruitful business, and be more efficient. Leverage’s Founder and CEO, Nick Sonnenberg, is the host of the Leverage Podcast. With a background in data science, high-frequency algorithmic trading, and business efficiency consulting, Nick has an innovative mind and is obsessed with learning from the people around him. Join him each week as he interviews fellow entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and leading experts to discuss everything from efficiency hacks to new technologies to life as an entrepreneur.
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Now displaying: August, 2018
Aug 27, 2018

DINA’S JOURNEY

Before turning to meditation, Dina lived in the opposite world — the whirlwind of founding a tech company which raised $35mm in venture capital money and scaled to offices internationally. The start-up was called blip.tv, a platform for original shows, somewhat similar to an early version of YouTube.

Her life quickly became meetings and conferences, hiring and firing and tough decisions about strategy and scaling and managing a P&L. She figured out the “job” part of her job. What she couldn’t figure out was how to be herself in that role…how to stay true to herself, as a feminine founder, in such a male-dominated company and industry.

Dina thought she had to act “like a guy” to be as successful as the male entrepreneurs she was meeting at tech events, people like Peter Thiel and Larry and Sergei from Google.

She wasn’t even sure how they acted at work but decided they were probably tough and worked around the clock. So she put on a tough exterior, worked constantly, and suppressed her true self completely.

Some of this worked. Dina was named a Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur, one of 10 Women of Web 2.0 by Fast Company, and she was invited to speak at conferences around the world. Life on the outside looked perfect but on the inside, it was a mess.

The mess of the dichotomy between her outside world, and what was happening on the inside, led to intense panic attacks for two years, until one day she decided she needed to get healthy again.

She abruptly quit her job and left to travel the world for two and a half years, never looking back.

Dina reached a pivotal point during a silent retreat in India when she realized she spent her whole life trying to be popular and it wasn’t serving her. During a meditation she realized she had the power to change herself, and to choose to be authentic. In that moment she had a life changing realization — that everyone could benefit from meditation, but meditation retreats didn’t have to be this hard. (She had no soap, no toilet paper, no AC, and it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit!)

At that moment, on retreat, a voice came to her and said, “When you come back to the US you’ll start a company to make meditation more mainstream, to be beautiful and full of light. And you’ll call it The Path.”

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness, according to Dina, is about focusing your way. And about paying attention without judgement. It’s not just “clearing your mind” or “thinking of nothing.” It is allowing your thoughts to be there but not judging them.

There are Four Main Categories of Meditation

Meditation can be for everyone. There are hundreds if not thousands of types of meditations to choose from, however, most fit into these main categories.

  1. Mindfulness Meditation. This is the most known in the West. It involves focusing on a single point (such as the breath). Mindfulness benefits include reducing stress and training the mind to focus.
  2. Manta Meditation This style is meditating around a “mantra” or a sanskrit word, such as “so hum.” This type of meditation ant is great at increasing creativity and also reducing stress.
  3. Energizing Meditation. Meditation can bring natural energy to the body when you incorporate breath work such as alternate nostril breathing or Kundalini work.
  4. Goal Based Meditation. Goal based meditations are used when the student wants to invite a certain aspect into his or her life, such as more compassion or gratitude.

MEDITATION & BUSINESS GO HAND IN HAND

As life becomes more and more stressful, meditation becomes even more important.

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”

-Old Zen saying

Juggling work and life creates an impact on the mind, body and spirit. Meditation can help balance your business life and provide strategies for coping with the stress of it all. In addition to reducing stress, it can increase focus, happiness and overall health…leading you to show up every day as your best self. Many high-level CEOs discuss the importance of meditating. Leverage co-founder and CEO Nick Sonnenberg tells how it helps increase productivity and aids in managing ADD.

While the benefits of meditation are becoming more mainstream, some people are wary of beginning… associating it with “woo-woo” practices instead of an easily accessible part of a daily routine.

HOW CAN YOU START?

The first step to meditation is to close your eyes, and breathe. It’s that simple. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no “wrong way” to meditate.

If you are ready to take the first step with the help of a teacher, you can find a well-known teacher such as Sharon Salzburg or Jon Kabat-Zinn online and view a few of their teachings. If you’re in NY, LA, or San Fran email dina@thepath.com directly and she will help you find a local teacher.

There is also the opportunity to join Sharon and Will Kabat-Zinn (Jon’s son!) this June during a meditation retreat (sponsored by The Path) designed specifically for entrepreneurs and creatives. This retreat, MELA takes place in beautiful Sedona with the theme “conscious leadership.” It is open to all levels of meditators from beginners to experienced. You’ll have the chance to unwind, meditate and mingle amongst a group of CEOs, including Leverage’s Nick Sonnenberg.

If you have any questions regarding the retreat, email sit@thepath.com. We hope to see you in June!

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Aug 20, 2018

Hilary Corna teaches leaders and teams how to solve problems more effectively. As former Senior Executive Officer for Toyota, she helped improve dealership operations for Toyota and ran all of their Kaizen projects for the Asia-Pac region, based out of its Singapore HQ. She is currently consulting for Leverage to implement Kaizen throughout the company and reshape its internal processes.

She’s also bestselling author of One White Face, and a prominent writer and speaker featured on Forbes, TedX, the Muse, and more.

WHAT IS KAIZEN?

Kai = change

Zen = for the better

Therefore Kaizen translates to continuously improving a company — or more specifically its processes — for the better.

The philosophy of Kaizen is deeply rooted in Toyota and the Japanese way of conducting business. It infiltrates all parts of the Toyota brand, and has quickly caught on in the US…sometimes taking on the form of popular buzzwords like Six Sigma or “Lean” business.

Kaizen is important because it is proactive rather than reactive. While most companies hum along through day-to-day operations until something goes wrong and then scramble to implement changes, Kaizen advocates for ongoing assessment and incremental changes.

By constantly implementing small improvements, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and ahead of the competition.

COMMON COMPANY ISSUES

During her time with Toyota, Hilary and her team acted as internal consultants and used a “pika pika” — or a test site — to work within six month projects, analyze all the processes and find ways to improve them.

At Toyota, once a process is improved and it is successful, it is made a standard and implemented throughout the other dealers.

There are two main issues with how a majority of companies try to tackle problems:

  1. They jump to a solution before truly understanding the problem
  2. They act based on an instinct rather than quantifying the problem

#1 can lead to implementing a solution that isn’t dealing with the root of the problem, while #2 focuses on “putting out fires.” Often if an issue is at hand it may feel urgent and give the illusion that a lot of clients are having the same issue, however, a business must consider if this actually a recurring problem, i.e. how often it happens and to how many clients/customers.

“A lot of businesses are good at implementing solutions…but not the right solutions.”

-Hilary Corna

THE WORK IN IMAGES

The images in this section are from Go Lean Six Sigma, an online kaizen training program. The first image shows how deeply you can get into a Kaizen project, or how to uncover the problems to put the right solution in place.

For instance, the blue and pink columns show the level of Kaizen work for startups and young companies where the issues or problems are typically unknown.

The last three columns, orange, green and brown, are typically used for proven or longstanding companies that need redesigned or completely new infrastructure.

The main difference between a Six Sigma and Lean strategies is the way it qualifies improvement. Six Sigma strives to reduce variation in an experience or a process. A good example is a restaurant. If a restaurant sometimes has hour long waits, sometimes accepts walk-ins, sometimes allows people to wait at the bar first, etc., those are all variations in the user/customer experience. Six Sigma would aim to reduce the restaurant variation.

The term “Lean” aims to reduce waste by streamlining the process. Both have the same aim but have different core beliefs as to how you get there.

The 8 wastes — “muda” in Japanese — are compiled in the image below. The 8 wastes are easily translated to fit all industries.

Eg: Motion could be measuring how often is a person moving to complete their job. In one of her studies, Hilary found that a team member had to walk a total of 2.5 miles (over a span of days) to complete one contract. This is an example of a waste problem a business doesn’t even know it has unless it begins to study and measure it.

 

THE TAKEAWAY — TREAT EVERYTHING LIKE A PROCESS

Implementing Kaizen or Lean Six Sigma can be done in ANY type of business and its processes. Client success, hiring/firing, sales, marketing — you name it, there is a process for it. And when there is a process, there is inevitably waste and room for improvement.

As we’ve said before we are big advocates of Process Street and using it to document every process whether it is three steps or 100 steps, in order to safeguard your business, and also to analyze and find holes in the processes to continuously improve them (Kaizen).

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Aug 13, 2018

Janet spends most of her time writing contracts and business strategies, but her biggest interest lies in first principles — how to find gaps that exist in a specific industry in order to capitalize on opportunities.

Her method could’ve saved the taxi industry from being overtaken by Uber and even anticipated the massive success of AirBnB.

Big claims, we know.

But, if you can find the white space that exists within an industry, you can see where there’s opportunity or where competition might be looming.

To start understanding her method, consider this question.

Q: How many problems around the world do you think all businesses are solving? Keep in mind they are solving problems we don’t even think are problems during our daily routine like grabbing a bagel, drinking water, brushing teeth, transportation, etc.

A: Only six problems. S-I-X!

A business is solving 1 (or more) of these six problems: Who, what, where, when, how or why.

THE SIX ROOT PROBLEMS

These are called the ROOT problems, because every problem can fit into at least one of these archetypes.

1. Who

-Related to people. It can solve the problem of identifying someone with certain attributes and skills, or matching two people through a selection process.

-Recruitment, performance testing, who business is tinder and the olympic games (either a match or who is the best at something)

-The olympics (who is best) and Tinder (who matches with who) are two variations of who companies.

2. What

-Relates to facts. It is either solving the problem of a lack of info or info that needs to be interpreted in some way.

-Explains what happens now, what happened in the past or what could happened in the future.

-An example of a what business is Wikipedia.

3. Where

-Questions concerned with locations, venues, markets, or where to go to get what you need or want.

-A well known where company is Etsy.

4. When

-Deals with issues connected to the aspect of time, therefore clients and customers are curious to when something will take place.

-Businesses that revolve around scheduling or calendars, such as the classic TV Guide, where time is the principle problem.

5. Why

-Gives understanding of why something happens, such as researching behavior analysis, or telling the story of why someone should do something or why we should take a certain action.

-Not many businesses fit within this prototype.

6. How

-Provides instructions or practical information in some way. How to do something or how to make something function.

-Largely tech or software based.

-The largest how organization is the UN — originally created to solve the problem of how to prevent another World War.

SOLVING THE SIX ROOT PROBLEMS

For the six different problems, a business can provide up to four solutions. These four solutions aren’t a standard, they are simply an umbrella category that all solutions can fall under.

FOUR SOLUTIONS

  1. Information — this is an exchange of knowledge, not necessarily showing how to fix a problem, rather it could also just explain a problem. It can be written, audio, or other types of info provided on a topic.
  2. Help — this solution provides assistance. The business takes care of the problem for the customer bc they either don’t want to or they can’t do it themselves. Services fall within this category.
  3. Tools — someone is providing a tangible product. This is the most common solution. Think: consumer goods, food, etc.
  4. Platforms — connect people and things together for a specific purpose. It is arguably the most interesting category. Platforms provide a venue (online or in person) for discussing things or selling things. It helps the customer accomplish a different purpose than most of the other solutions.

Therefore we have six problems with four solutions. All businesses exist within this matrix.

Let’s say that again … ALL businesses exist within the 6X4 matrix.

To use the matrix, choose a company or industry. Then choose a vertical that describes the problem of the industry.

Once you have the vertical, run through the four solutions to see if there are big players in each of those spaces. If there isn’t a player, then this is white space in the industry and an opportunity for disruption.

Example: the travel industry, prior to AirBnB

A platform prior to AirBnB didn’t exist, allowing it to fulfill that need within the travel market and completely disrupt the industry…quickly becoming the leader in lodging that it is today.

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Aug 6, 2018

Ryan’s background and primary focus is in wealth management, or how to properly manage your $ to make $.

He is a Partner at Copperleaf Capital and co-founder of AE Wealth Management, valued over $4 billion in assets.

Let’s just say Ryan knows what he’s doing. And he does it the right way.

His focus is on staying in front of the industry. Rather than waiting for harsh regulations to determine what is “right” or “legally acceptable,” Ryan seeks to reduce conflicts of interest and promotes transparency in every aspect of the client relationship.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT FORECAST?

A good way to stay in front of the industry is to know what’s coming in the future.

In his opinion, there is a looming crackdown on revenue sharing arrangements. What is revenue sharing? Let’s use this example.

ABC financial is a BIG firm and they have a “preferred” provider list that they refer their clients to regularly. In order to get onto ABC financial’s list, they ask companies to pay a fee, sometimes millions in order to get top shelf placement.

Another example is Payola. In the 1950’s there was a debacle in which a famous DJ was taking money from record producers in exchange for airtime (a tactic now called Payola). He was charged by the FCC and sent to prison.

Airwaves are protected, but your financial advice is not.

Ryan’s focus is to give advice based on merit, not based on payouts.

“Only 1% of the industry operates based on merit. We are part of the 1%, because we believe people should give honest advice.”

– Ryan Heath

IS CRYPTOCURRENCY HERE TO STAY?

Everybody wants to know WHAT the deal is with the whole cryptocurrency phenomenon we have among us. So naturally, we asked Ryan.

He suggests this is probably the first iteration of many, and he wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the crypto companies team together to create one strong currency. Hmm…interesting.

Right now, he tells his clients if they are investing in crypto, this is investing in SPECULATION…and it is important to know the difference. It’s not the same as investing in a stock like Apple per se, because there’s not a specific, proven, operating business.

Therefore you should be using these types of investments as “extra,”’ investments IF you have money to invest that goes above and beyond your base plan.

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE BETWEEN A ROTH IRA, 401K, OR PROFIT SHARING KEOGH?

The primary difference between a Roth account and ALL the others, is that you put in money after you pay the tax on the money, then you grow tax free and never pay taxes again. Yes, we said never, as long as you follow the rules. You can even take it out tax free.

And, there are ROTH versions of most of these types of accounts.

How to look at it: If you were a farmer are you going to pay tax on the seed at the store or the harvest when it comes in and most ppl would choose the seed … bc you know it should at least come back to you if not make even more profit.

Most ppl are moving towards Roth accounts, I.e. pay the piper and be done with it.

KNOW YOUR RISK PROFILE

There’s a difference between your risk tolerance and capacity. The former being what you are willing and comfortable risking and the latter being how much you are actually capable of risking.

There is also a difference between risk and volatility in the market.

  • Risk is if an investment could implode at any moment
  • Volatility means the price moves up and down frequently, but the investment most likely won’t implode

Ex: Apple is a volatile stock because it fluctuates, but more than likely it isn’t going to completely dissolve.

THE REAL SECRET TO SUCCESS

Wealth is built through slow and steady investments. Forget the big, risky investments and focus on the steady ones that promise decent returns. Even by working with billionaires, Ryan notes that most of their investments are extremely conservative.

He also suggests going with someone you trust.

There are a lot of robo-investors or automated tools out there that can get you started and if you’re looking to invest $50/mo or start small, then those can get the job done. But, they don’t replace a person and the ability to dig deep into what fits each client’s needs and interests, so once your portfolio begins to grow it is important to have a trusted advisor to guide you.

THE BOOK

If you want more of this sage advice, you can read his book Life. Perfected. It was an instant Amazon best seller, hitting the #1 list on retirement planning in the print and digital edition. The goal of the book was to take complex financial matters and make it simple for everyone to understand.

Money should be a catalyst that allows you to live your life to perfection. Not the only thing we’re striving for.

100% of book proceeds are donated to the Make a Wish Foundation.

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