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The Zigzag Principle
The Goal-Setting Strategy That Will Revolutionize Your Business and Your Life
By Rich Christiansen
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2012Mountain Grabbers, LLC
All rights reserved.
Excerpt<h2>CHAPTER 1</h2> <p><b><i>Assessing Resources—What's in Your Pocket?</i></b></p> <br> <p>After I wrote my first book, <i>Bootstrap Business</i>, which told the story of how my partner, Ron Porter, and I took $5,000 and within one year grew it into a $1.2 million business, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Garrett Gunderson for a national radio show. Garrett is the author of the <i>New York Times</i> bestseller, <i>Killing Sacred Cows</i>, and he started the interview by asking, "Rich, tell me about how you started this last business." I said, "Oh, I took $5,000 and ..." Garrett interrupted me midsentence and said, "No! No you didn't."</p> <p>I was kind of stunned and tried to explain, "Well, yes, I actually <i>did</i> start it with $5,000." He corrected me again, "No you didn't." And I retorted, "Yes, I did!"</p> <p>After what I initially thought was a rather awkward beginning, Garrett went on to explain that the $5,000 my partner and I put up was the smallest part of the equation. In fact, in his words, the money was really meaningless. And in making that point, Garrett was teaching an invaluable lesson.</p> <p>Most people assume we need to have money to succeed in business and to reach our goals in life. If we want to start a business, the reasoning goes, we first need capital. If we're given a major project at work, we immediately want to know what our budget is. If we want to take our family on a much-needed vacation, the first thing we do is check the balance of our bank account (or, if we really enjoy paying interest, our credit cards). That view develops a straight-line mentality as we undertake whatever we have set our sights on—whether it's a house, a business, a contribution to our team at work, a strong marriage and a stable family ... you name it. But if all you think in terms of is how much money you need to achieve your goals, you're missing the fact that success is actually the result of identifying and maximizing a couple of foundational resources that have nothing to do with our traditional view of "capital" and have everything to do with zigzagging toward our intended outcome.</p> <p>The point Garrett was making was that Ron and I succeeded because of what he calls "The Value Equation," which is that <i>mental capital</i> (meaning our knowledge, skills, talents, and passions) plus our <i>relationship capital</i> (meaning the quality of our relationships with a broad pool of friends and associates) will equal <i>financial capital</i>.</p> <p>Yes, at some point money is often needed if we are to reach our goals. But that form of capital will grow out of the knowledge and the relationships we have, and the pace at which it grows will be influenced in large measure by our passion. If you need proof of this point, consider this extremely condensed list of transformative businesses that got their start in a college dorm room or garage: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Google. And while the founders of each of these companies are now household names worth billions, they all began with little more than their smarts and their passion to achieve their goals, combined with their networks of friends.</p> <p>This view of capital is very different from how most of us think about resources, and most people get the equation backwards. We think, "If only I had some money, I could reach my goals or realize my dreams." Money cannot build intelligence, relationships, or passion. But intelligence, relationships, and passion can always yield money. Coming to this view, though, may require you to adjust your thinking.</p> <p>A few years after I graduated from college with a degree in electronic engineering, I enrolled in an executive MBA program while working for Novell, then the pioneer in computer networking (and yet another company founded by four guys with little capital, a bright idea, and a lot of passion—who are now multimillionaires). The vice president in charge of the division where I worked was Dave Owens. As I neared the completion of my MBA, I was preparing to move to another division in the company. Before I made the move, Dave called me into his office and asked me a simple question: "Rich, who do you work for?" The answer seemed obvious, and I told him I worked for him. His response was "Wrong!" and that was the end of that meeting.</p> <p>A week later he called me back in and again asked me, "Rich, who do you work for?" Well, I had been thinking about his question, and this time I confidently told him, "Novell!" Again, he told me I was wrong. A week or so later, his administrative assistant made yet another appointment. I rather timidly went into his office, only to be asked the same question for the third time. But this time when he asked, "Who do you work for?" I answered, "I work for myself."</p> <p>Finally, I had found tthe right answer, and as a result my view of resources shifted dramatically. Whether we work for someone or are off on our own,,,, seeing <i>ourselves</i> as the person we work for will light a fire under us to identify the resources we can access, rather than waiting for buckets of money to appear through venture capital coups or budget allocations.</p> <br> <p><b>What Are Your Resources?</b></p> <p>Now that you know who you work for, you need to take an honest look at two things: what your resources are right now and where they can take you.</p> <p>I currently drive an Audi A6. I love this car, and I love going on road trips in it. No matter the distance or destination, I know I'm going to get there, and I know I'll travel in comfort. I can sing along with my favorite music on the satellite radio, and my biggest worry is that my speed will creep up to the point where I'll get a ticket. Driving this car is an absolute pleasure!</p> <p>My Audi A6 is dramatically different from what I drove in college. When my wife and I were first married, we drove a 1972 Dodge Colt that had been wrecked three times. I know people joke about cars that are held together with bailing wire and duct tape, but ours actually was. We tried to improve its appearance by covering up some of the larger dents with a rough coat of Bondo and then painting the entire car with blue spray paint. That plan didn't work very well. In fact, I was so embarrassed by the car that when I was working on my MBA, I would park half a mile away so that no one would see what I drove. The car had a broken oil pan, and the head was cracked. It would get me to school and back, but I never dared take it out on the freeway, let alone on a road trip.</p> <p>Back then, that was my only resource for getting to my destination. I can go a lot farther now in my Audi A6 than I could in that old Dodge Colt. But the Colt was better than my eight-year-old son's current resources. He recently founded a business selling homemade crafts around the neighborhood. When he makes his deliveries, his mode of transportation is a kick scooter. So, while my Dodge Colt was constrained by the city limits, his radius is a few blocks from our home. But he is making do with the resources at his disposal. His vehicle is different from my Audi A6
Excerpted from The Zigzag Principle by Rich Christiansen. Copyright © 2012 by Mountain Grabbers, LLC. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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