We put great store in the benefits of learning how to be BOLD from people who have shown boldness. They innovate and inspire through sharing lessons on how to emulate their own achievements. We have chosen a first selection here in what will be a series of articles on how to act bold and get what you want. It’s natural that several mentors can give the same elements of advice, so we have chosen to highlight a selection of each person’s nuggets of knowledge so as to avoid repetition.
Grant Cardone & Elena Cardone
This pair of inspiring influencers are an ultimate power couple. Grant Cardone is a self-made bestselling author, entrepreneur, mentor, real estate investor, and founder and CEO of Cardone Enterprises and Cardone Training Technologies. Elena’s career began as a model and Hollywood actor, and she is now an author, businesswoman, empire builder, mentor, public speaker, trainer, and visionary. Together, they have created a real estate portfolio of over $2.5 Billion.
Grant Cardone approaches this on two levels: attitude and behaviour.
Attitude. It’s common to feel doubt when you decide to begin acting BOLD, when you begin to take risks before you’ve built your self-confidence: “What if I fail?” is what people ask themselves. That feeling will exist whether you aim to up your game by +10% or to 10X it. So don’t play small, aim for 10X every time.
Behaviour. These days we can all use social media and talk to the world. But don’t spread yourself too thinly. When you start out, nobody knows you. It takes some repetition, some frequency of messaging to start to cut through everything else and get noticed. So don’t give up too early, keep going at it. Be obsessed or be average! Establish yourself in one market, then another, then another, ideally a bigger one each time.
How to get what you want
Don’t just have an idea of what you want and then park it at the back of your mind – make it your mission. When you haven’t got what you want, and Grant tends to focus on material success, you have to put yourself somewhere else. That might be physically to be able to execute your business plan in a different location, or it might be mentally to have a different attitude. Either way, make yourself seen and heard. Nothing happens without first getting people’s attention. Success today is based on money following attention.
Working with some similarly successful colleagues, Cardone Ventures is a business consulting company that enables business owners to experience their company from a 360-degree perspective of all aspects such as operations, marketing, finance, and people. The focus is to help entrepreneurs grow from $2 million to $50 million+ and 10X all aspects of their business.
Brandon Dawson & Natalie Workman
Brandon seized an early opportunity when he started working part-time for his step-father’s hearing aid technology business while he was still at school. After high school he moved to Atlanta and worked at it full time, and by 23 he was sales director. For family reasons he moved to Portland, Oregon, where he acquired the Sonus Corporation, a Canadian hearing aid business. Brandon had connections with numerous owners of other hearing aid companies, and when they retired he bought their profitable businesses. He worked out how to run a franchise model, raised $38 million in private equity and built a network of over a hundred companies operating from more than a thousand locations. As CEO, he took the company public on the New York Stock Exchange when he was still 29.
Within a few years his private equity backers wanted to get a return on their investment. Brandon was bumped into the Chairman role, which left him unfulfilled and he resigned. To no longer be part of growing the business, his business, hit him hard. He vowed this would never happen again, and started another hearing-care business, the Audigy Group. Without external funding or giving up any control, he grew it in 12 years to 650 independent practices with over 1,800 employees and $300 million in aggregate revenue. In 2016, he sold it for an amazing 77 times its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).
Brandon knew he had a winning formula, and to take it into other business sectors he got together with Grant Cardone. In 2019 they launched Cardone Ventures, and their target is $5 billion in businesses under management within five years. Teaming up with Grant opened other avenues for Brandon: he’s engaged to fellow entrepreneur Natalie Workman, a vice president of organizational development at Cardone Ventures. Natalie hosts her own ‘WorkWoman’ podcast, and has successfully launched three six-figure courses on leadership development, team alignment, and business growth. Natalie is devoted to showing business owners how to create a culture that engages employees at the same time as meeting their business objectives.
Jesse Itzler & Sara Blakely
Jesse Itzler is a former rapper who in his late 20’s co-founded Marquis Jet, the world’s largest private jet card company. It provided debit cards that allowed customers to pre-purchase flying time on private jets for a set price, and he and his partner sold the business to Berkshire Hathaway/NetJets. Jesse then partnered with Zico coconut water, which he and his business partner sold to Coca-Cola. He is married to Sara Blakely, founder of the Spanx brand of body-slimming women’s underwear. In 2012 Sara became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire.
For those who want to set out on a journey to become a high achiever, Jesse’s advice is don’t wait until you have everything you need in place. That day will never arrive. Just start, and gather what you need along the way. Keep moving forward through both victories and losses. Be patient, and be prepared to make sacrifices – like writing a business pitch to meet your deadline when everyone else you know is watching a big ball game.
Experience is valuable, though it takes a long time to acquire it. To speed up the process, use someone else’s! When Jesse was building Marquis Jet he made sure he didn’t waste opportunities to talk with the private jet users he met. But whether it’s a top business leader, maybe a sports person, celebrity or a taxi driver, there is something to learn from most everyone. So be curious, ask questions, and process the answers.
Another crucial factor of his time management advice is to always make the best use of it. Jesse is a great exponent of the Eisenhower Matrix of Urgency and Importance to set priorities. Do what is important before doing what is urgent.
The Eisenhower Matrix
Sara Blakely showed her own early boldness through occasional sessions as a stand-up comedian during a short time working at Disney World in Florida. After Disney she went on to sell fax machines door-to-door with enough success to be promoted to a national sales training role. Door-to-door work in Florida’s warm weather had highlighted some undergarment failings, and Sara began experimenting to create her own solutions.
On taking early designs to hosiery manufacturers, she found that they were all run by men who had little understanding of the benefits her designs provided. Success might have eluded her but she kept faith in her ideas and finally met a manufacturer who shared her ideas with his three daughters, and they cajoled him in to creating the earliest Spanx products. In the early days of her business Sara did pretty much everything that was needed, living off credit cards and using them to even pay business costs such as registering the Spanx trademark. In year one sales hit $4 million. In year two they reached $10 million. 10 years later Sara was on the cover of Forbes magazine for being the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world.
Today, the Sara Blakely Foundation helps women through education and entrepreneurial training, and Sara became the first female billionaire to join “The Giving Pledge” which involves the world’s richest people donating at least half of their wealth to charity. Sara and Jesse were married in 2008 and they often share the stage to speak at conferences and other events on business and lifestyle issues.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
When they launched Barefoot Wines, Michael and Bonnie had no money or experience in the wine industry. They made up for that with creativity, resourcefulness, guts and grit. Barefoot grew to become the biggest wine brand in the world. By the time they sold it, they had helped transform the wine industry.
Numerous examples of their creative resourcefulness can be found in the inventive marketing they ran after they decided to use crowdsourcing rather than advertising. It began when they donated some wine to a local fundraiser event. Sales in that neighbourhood took off, so they experimented with some more local neighbourhood events and saw the same results. They were supporting local communities in a tangible manner, and the local communities supported them back by preferring their brand of wine. Barefoot sent their marketing team to meet people at some local events and the invaluable feedback they crowdsourced determined their style, pricing, and branding.
Just as Michael and Bonnie had no prior experience of running a wine brand, the people that were canvassed in their research had no formal marketing experience. This gave everyone permission to question the most fundamental precepts that professionals would defer to as ‘empirical knowledge.’ Many users of crowdsourcing have found the involvement of non-experts is a game-changer – because the non-experts don’t know, or happily disregard, the accepted conventions of the business sectors they comment on.
Here’s just one example. Gaining prominent, eye-level shelf space is always tough for a new grocery brand. When Barefoot Wines was still a new market entrant they often found themselves on the bottom shelf. Internal crowdsourcing for solutions gave a person in the accounts department the opportunity to suggest a trail of footprints (the Barefoot Wines logo) from a store entrance to shelf. Answering the question “how do we sell-in better?” became an eye-catching marketing breakthrough.
On the way to becoming the world’s biggest brand of wine, Michael also streamlined the usual company structure made up of a number of professional disciplines. Business management courses teach about the functions of Operations, Finance, People (HR) and Sales & Marketing. In Barefoot Wines, everyone was either in Sales or Sales Support. You either brought money in, or you supported the people who did. Every decision made by everyone in Sales Support had to be considered for its impact on the Sales performance. I’m sure this may not impress Heads of Finance, Operations, Marketing or HR, who take pride in being the best they can in their field. But Michael has always been clear: every business will fail if it doesn’t make enough sales, regardless of how well its other internal functions perform.
Maybe you spotted that the on-going theme of Michael and Bonnie’s boldness is breaking the mould to stand out from competitors. Like all of our chosen mentors and inspirers, they wrote a bestseller book, The Barefoot Spirit. Even in this they broke the mould. As far as we know they are the only ones to go beyond producing a regular audio book and had it scripted and recorded as a piece of audio theatre, complete with actors and a director. People remember stories better than facts, and that’s particularly true if they hear a story to which they add their own memorable images: the “theatre of the mind.”
Bonnie and Michael are dear friends of our founder and CEO Epi Ludvik and his wife. Epi says the first time he heard Michael’s business-structure advice about everyone is either in Sales or Sales Support he recognized it as being among the best advice he’d ever heard. It also led him to come across Grant Cardone’s teaching about the sales function. “Thank you Bonnie and Michael for invaluable advice.”