the ceo magazine, entrepreneurship,
Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chairman of C-Suite Network

When I decided to write my third book, Think Big, Act Bigger, I wanted to make sure my readers would get some practical takeaways. Something they could apply to their business regardless of industry. So I decided to make it a compilation of anecdotes and real-life stories aimed at inspiring entrepreneurs.

Going in, I had an idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but writing it and hearing these stories from these c-suite leaders and entrepreneurs served as a reminder of what needs to happen in business in order to succeed. You need to have a servant’s mentality, you need to take good risks, you need to steamroll your obstacles and find a bigger pond. Here are my takeaways, which I hope will serve as your takeaways:

1. Have a servant’s mentality.

You can’t ever lose sight of getting ahead by helping others – no matter how far your career takes you. Whether you’re a CEO or a regular employee, always ask: How can I help you? What can I help you with? What can I do? Simply put, serve people, not companies. No matter what the U.S. Supreme Court says, companies are not people. Companies are what people make them. Don’t hide behind emails, submission forms and empty emails that go nowhere. If you truly value your customers, take the time to talk to them…and SERVE them.

2. Take good risks.

Entrepreneurs are risk-takers by nature. They are resilient and calm in the eye of the storm. Entrepreneurs are constantly putting themselves out there, willing to try new things – therefore taking a progressive risk, as opposed to the thrill-seeking kind. Don’t take risks just for the heck of it. You’ll go nowhere fast!

Taking a risk paid off for Domino’s Pizza. They were all about fast delivery – pizza in 30 minutes or less, or your pizza was free. They weren’t concerned about taste or quality; they just wanted to get you your pizza. But as technology changed and more people were able to discuss the brand online, Dominos realized they had a problem. Their pizza sucked, and people were talking about it. Images went viral of pizza being delivered on time, but the cheese and toppings stuck to the cardboard.

Dominos took to the airwaves and made a huge proclamation – we hear you, our pizzas suck, and we promise to improve them. And they did. When they rolled out the new campaign and new recipe, sales skyrocketed. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and never be afraid of open honest communication with your customers. You might be surprised by what you learn.

3. Steamroll obstacles.

Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with a number of unfamiliar challenges that they must navigate through. In order to conquer those obstacles, you must have the ability to tackle (and steamroll) all of these variants that will (not might) be thrown your way. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everyone should always have a ‘big, bad wolf’ in his or her story, just don’t let it beat you. Steamrolling obstacles is the only way to get to the next level again and again. Don’t side step them, face them. You must:

  • Understand that obstacles aren’t just roadblocks. They can present opportunities to think differently
  • Don’t settle: Think beyond the questions and obstacles you have now in order to eliminate them in the future
  • Don’t get mad (or even). Just get ahead, especially when it comes to your competition

4. Find a Bigger Pond. 

There is always somebody bigger than you or getting bigger and gaining. Once you become successful in your business its time to find a bigger pond to “fish” in.  Whether you expand the pond you’re “fishing” in or move into deeper waters, you must ask yourself:

  • What’s next?
  • What do we need to do to reach our bigger goals?
  • How will our brand, services, products, technologies, and people keep standing out from the rest?

That’s the path I took. I made myself big in Sioux Falls, SD, my hometown. I found a bigger pond at the state level. Then I realized there were 49 other states I could deep-sea fish in. Regardless of which pond you end up in, always stay true to yourself. That is the balance everyone must reach: adapting your business to a different pond while never leaving your identity behind. 

Not every career prepares you for life as an entrepreneur, or a small business owner; but if you do sign up, get ready to enjoy the ups and downs. It’s a hell of a ride, one with high rewards if you can adapt and roll with the punches!

About the Author

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a primetime television and radio host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV and All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on CBS on-demand radio network Play.It. Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most powerful network of C-Suite leaders. Connect with Hayzlett on TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+ or


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