April 2017 eNewsletter

Welcome to our April business eNewsletter focused on leadership, marketing and overcoming obstacles.

Quote of the month:
“Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

In this Issue…

Message from our Chairman of the Board

SpiritBank Business Resource Series Arthur Greeno Event

Join Transworld Business Advisors of Tulsa and SpiritBank for our next Business Resource Series Event!

Featuring best-selling author, Guinness World Record Holder, and Chick-fil-A franchise owner, Arthur Greeno.

Enjoy networking, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a lively presentation.

Arthur will give his insight on leadership, marketing, and overcoming odds throughout life.

May 9, 2017
5:30-7:00 p.m.
1800 S. Baltimore, Tulsa, OK

Space is Limited. Please RSVP early to Katie Segner at ksegner@spiritbank.com or (918) 295-7222.

This series brought to you by the following local partners. Our mission is to provide you with expert advice, information and resources as you need them with no sales pitch. “When our customers succeed, we succeed!”

Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Mixer 

Save the Date!

Small Business Enterprise Mixer
Central Center at Centennial Park
1028 E. Sixth St., Tulsa, Oklahoma

You are invited to celebrate National Small Business Week at the City of Tulsa’s Small Business Enterprise Mixer on Thursday, May 4, 2017, from 2:45 to 7:30 p.m. The Mayor’s Office for Human Rights thanks sponsors SpiritBank and Tulsa Economic Development Corporation for their support of this free, public event.

After registration from 2:45 to 3:15 p.m., the event will include a welcome by Mayor G.T. Bynum; roundtable networking discussions on small business financing, contracting, growth and development opportunities, moderated by U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) District Director Dottie Overal; and time for more networking. Light refreshments will be provided.

Please Plan to Attend. No Reservations Required.

For more information, please contact the Mayor’s Office for Human Rights at (918) 596-7818 or humanrightsdept@cityoftulsa.org.

I am a Horrible Leader!
By Arthur Greeno

Every leader at some point in their career has uttered these words. It could be for multiple reasons, but we all have, and if you have not, then eventually you will.

We could be running 100/mph doing a great job, taking care of our team, taking care of operations, and taking care of our guests, but sometimes it still feels this way.

Recently, I lost three managers. Did it hurt me? Honestly, yes it did!

Is it because I did anything wrong? Maybe.

Is it because I did not do things right? Possibly.

Will I get past it? Definitely.

It is easy to get caught up, questioning our abilities, but sometimes life just happens. If you really think about it, you can justify anything. I can look at these three managers, and find reasons to support the fact that they are no longer with me, that it is my fault they are gone.

Maybe I did not spend enough time with them, or I did not give them the tools that they need, that I did not pay them enough money. The list can go on and on for the reasons that they left.

On the flipside, I can find all kinds of reasons that justifies why they are gone.

That they were not here for the right reasons, they did not give 100%, in which they were not cut out for leadership anyway.

The truth is, we all question ourselves as leaders, and we just won’t say it out loud. That’s what makes us good leaders.

It doesn’t mean that we need to go on a drinking spree, one of self-misery. Or, sit around our house in just our underwear watching TV all night long eating, cold pizza and not shaving. No, it means that we first self-evaluate and then look in the mirror for what we did right, and what we can possibly improve on.

The truth

One of my managers moved out of state to fill a relationship that he was pursuing.

Another manager was working on a project; she was using us as a safety net, when her true passion elsewhere. She needed to move on. The last one was someone who had his heart in the ministry. He was working on a different project for years, and he finally grew to the point where he could step out and live his passion.

If all of that did not happen within a one-month span, I probably would not have questioned my leadership ability.

Just know this, from time to time we will all question our leadership abilities. All good leaders do. The question is what do we do when we question those abilities?

Do you go to people for advice that is going to pull you down? Or, will you go to people that will give you tools to step up?

Do you bury your head and ignore it, or do you turn a different direction and live in denial?

No one said leadership is easy; in fact, they have said just the opposite.

Know this, every leader feels this way, it is not unnatural, and it does not mean you are less of a leader. If you question yourself, you are a great leader. If you question yourself and find ways to improve you are an excellent leader. If you seek help, you are an amazing leader!

Go out there and know that you are not alone, sometimes it is not about you! Just understand you have instilled greatness in others. Take on the day, and change lives!

Read this article at the ArthurGreeno.com

Venture Capitalist: Strong Leadership Builds a Culture of Trust
By Vala Afshar

“The more we give to other people, the more we get ourselves. The rewards all accrue to us.” – Chris Michel

Ray Wang, bestselling author and CEO/founder of Constellation Research, and I have had the privilege of interviewing several successful startup founders and venture capitalists on our weekly show DisrupTV. Our unicorn startup founders and venture capitalists guests share lessons on business leadershippersonal disruptionhyper growth and scalebusiness model innovationcharacteristics of unicorn CEOs, andentrepreneurship that greatly resonated with our audience. To expand on the topic of of business leadership and venture capital, we invited a 2X startup founder, successful venture capitalist and a world adventurer to our show.

Christopher P. Michel is an American investor, entrepreneur and photographer. He is the founder of Affinity Labs and Military.com and runs Nautilus Ventures, a seed venture fund. Military.com was one of the first online social networks to reach scale in the United States. Both companies were purchased by Monster Worldwide. Nautilus has made over 40 investments including Palantir, Doctor on Demand, Sparks, Goodreads, Castlight Health, 3D Robotics, RelateIQ, Blue Bottle, and Ruby Ribbon. Michel is also an active board member and serves as a Director of Dale Carnegie, Kixeye, Tugboat Yards, and 3D Robotics. Michel was also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School during the 2010-2011 school year. Prior to his business career, Chris served as a Naval Flight Officer in the United States Navy. You can follow Michel on Twitter at @chrismichel – Michel is one of the most gifted and most socially engaged photographers in the world.

Naval Flight Officer Business Lessons

Seven years of active duty and 11 years on the reserves provided leadership and motivational lessons that Michel carries in business today. Michel learned to motivate people with things other than money. We have a sense of purpose, mission and commitment to each other that are the strongest bonds of motivation. In the military, we have to focus on building a purpose driven, non-monetary approach to building strong, high-performing teams.

Your Culture is Your Brand

Michel said that most board members are financial investors and that’s the lever that they triangulate on. We spend a lot of time on product market fit, growth and traction instead of focusing purposefully on building a great company culture. Culture should be something that we build from the beginning – good leadership, trust and commitment. Michael said that business leaders are not talking enough about leadership and culture of trust. We are seeing financially successful companies struggling with culture and managing talent. We need to be asking better questions about good leadership. What does a good culture look like? How do we start a company with the right seeds of trust? How do we communicate to inspire? What are the pitfalls of being a new CEO?

“We tend to value the genius with a thousand helpers. This is not sufficient. The purpose of business is to serve society, it isn’t sufficient just to make money,” said Michel. 

The People Product and the Journey

Michel recognized Facebook for a model company for helping employees feel valued. Michel speaks to many of his friends that work at Facebook and all of them are really happy and proud to work at Facebook.

The most important product is the people product, the culture and the team. At the end of the day, when you sold your company the thing that matters the most is how you effected other people, what leaders came out of your company, and what friends you had. As the CEO, you are the captain of the ship.

“The journey of the ship matters as the destination.” – Chris Michel

CEO Lessons

Michel talked about lessons he learned as a company founder, including: Don’t confuse activities with outcomes. Companies can drive towards mediocrity very quickly. A culture of excellence requires everyone in the organization towards building a special culture. The most important thing that we can give is our time. So what obligations do we have as leaders to our team members.

How can companies compete and win today? Michel said that founders must passionately want to build an incredible company, where everyone is aligned with a purpose of trust. You want to build a company where employees want to learn, while cultivating a culture of trust, caring and commitment. A purpose driven company can win today. A purpose driven culture can help supercharge your mission.

Desired Characteristics of Startup Founders To Invest In

Michel looks for people with a lot of passion. A person must have high integrity. A person must care about the product in terms of making a difference in the world – it isn’t sufficient just to focus on money. Michel looks for products that can be tested without a lot of capital. He is looking for entrepreneurs that are committed. The worst thing you can say to Michel is ‘I want to fail fast’, instead he is looking for a founder to say: ‘Here is what the tests look like, here is what the initial product looks like, and if the test results are poor, here are the 3-4 things we are going to do to keep optimizing.”

Tenacity, passion, integrity and a good product sense of the market that matters is what Michel looks for in order to make an investment. He is looking for an honest conversation with startup founders. Michel is not looking for multi-billion dollar future projections. Live in the world of reality. Michel wants to collaborate with startup founders and business leaders on real problems. He is looking for honest, open and real collaboration opportunities.

Can You Teach Creativity? What is the Combination Lock?

Michel never thought about being a photographer until someone gave him a camera. The camera unlocked a whole life for Michel. Creative potential is in all of us but removed through schooling and work. So how can we unlock the creative potential inside of us? Michel believes that it starts with us giving ourselves the permission to be creative. When Michel is teaching photography, meaning having a conversation over coffee, he asked the person to take a single photo that they are proud of. Just a little encouragement and positive feedback can help cultivate creativity in others. All we need a little encouragement before we start doubling down.

“Creation and entrepreneurship is the source of the most rewarding life.” – Chris Michel

Mentors and People We Admire Have Big Hearts

Michel often shares photos of people that he admires on Twitter – and very often these photos become the people’s avatars on Twitter (again, Michel is a world renowned photographer).

The gift in life are the friends that you have. Michel admires all humans – nice, interesting people with the big hearts. People with big hearts that sacrifice for others and care for others. Michel likes to spend time with people who like to listen and be helpful. Michel mention Om Malik as a person who is all heart that he deeply admires. Michel hangs out with givers who care about building a culture of love. Michel mentions several extraordinary people in our interview who are big givers, all heart, and great examples of role models.

“You don’t have to try to impress people. People just want to feel valued. As a CEO or a leader, if you do that, the world will be unlocked for you.” – Chris Michel

Read this article at the HuffingtonPost.com

Five Marketing Tips For Small Businesses In 2017
By Dan Hinckley

Effective marketing requires a consistent awareness of upcoming trends and emerging channels. Even if you feel confident in your business’s current techniques and strategies, you should keep an eye on what’s coming next so you can stay competitive and ahead of the rest. To keep your small business successful in 2017, here are five marketing tips to help you.

1. Blog With Expertise

If you’ve been in the marketing industry the past few years, you know that blogging is a trend that virtually every business has adopted. Blogging is a great way to utilize search engine optimization practices and get your small business noticed. Unfortunately, many businesses focus on frequency and forget the importance of quality.

By optimizing your website for search engines with quality blog posts, your business will appear at the top of search results for topics related to your service offering. This will lead to more visitors to your website, increase your leads, and help your organization grow.

You can post a blog with keywords every week, but unless the content is valuable, you will lose the interest of your readers. The effectiveness of your blogging is going to be based on exciting and informative content. Accomplishing this might mean hiring an expert in your industry or scheduling your own time to draft a quality post each month.

For example, a former client of mine, Justworks, regularly publishes valuable and timely content on their blog that is relevant to their customers. The payroll management company recently published a great article about the basics related to IRS Form 941 – just in time for tax season.

2. Mobile Takeover

Everyone has already witnessed the impact of mobile technology on marketing strategies. The last few years have been focused on mobile browsing and utilizing social media platforms that are only available on mobile devices. In 2017, think about marketing options like text message marketing; 95% of Americans now own a mobile device and 98% of text messages are opened.

If you have not yet developed a mobile marketing strategy, you’ll want to invest the time to do so in 2017. There are a number of SMS marketing services online that provide software that will allow you to create lists, draft messages and send them to your customers.

3. Personalized Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing has become a crucial aspect of marketing effectiveness in the past few years. Small businesses can’t afford to become complacent or get in a routine with their social media strategies. Pay attention to personalized marketing techniques; tracking consumer behaviors and targeting them based on their interests is becoming an essential tool of marketing.

Personalized marketing techniques can be as simple as using your customer’s name in the bulk email messages you send out or as complex as targeting individuals that work at a specific company you’d like to sell your services to with Facebook or LinkedIn ads. Social media sites like Facebook have improved their advertising platforms to let you be very specific to the audiences ads are shown to. With this information, you can create specific ads that target groups that can provide a strong ROI for your effort.

4. Visual Strategies

Live-streaming has taken the social media world by storm. Live feeds and videos have become the new normal for communicating your message. Facebook reported last year that 100 million hours per day of video are watched on their site. Engage your audience with live-streaming at events or conferences that highlight you and your product offering. It’s a quick and effective way to connect with customers and build your brand.

Visual marketing effectiveness will also rely on engaging graphics. While graphic design has always been important, it will need more attention this year. Viewer engagement durations are shorter and social feeds are getting more crowded. Stand out with powerful graphic content.

5. Email Marketing

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of email marketing. Too many businesses see it as an irrelevant aspect of marketing as social media has expanded. The truth is, email marketing is still beneficial to the growth of a small business. In fact, 91% of U.S. adults reportedly like to receive promotional emails from companies they’ve done business with in the past. Your email marketing strategy in 2017 should be focused on helpful content including industry news, guides and links to your expert blog content. Don’t run customers off with an email about sales every few days. Make your email content engaging, informative and interesting by containing insights that you personally would like to know and receive about your product offering. If you wouldn’t want to read the email you’re sending to your customers, don’t send it.

Marketing is constantly evolving. This year we can expect marketing strategies to be detail-oriented and mobile-focused. Consumers are not paying attention to fluffy content or staying engaged through traditional avenues alone.

Read this article at the Forbes.com

4 Great Ways to Overcome Your Biggest Business Obstacles
By Leonard Kim

As the great playwright Samuel Beckett once said, “Ever tried, ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” These are words that entrepreneurs embrace everyday, as each failure is a chance to start over and better.

Starting a business is tough. It is even tougher when you are looking at creating a business that operates at an international level.

In a recent interview with Chris Folayan, founder and CEO of MallforAfrica, a global e-commerce platform that enables Africans to purchase goods from the US and UK, I asked Chris how he overcame obstacles in his company.

Without missing a beat, Chris replied, “I don’t know any entrepreneur who hasn’t failed at something at one point or another. The problems I incurred early on not only provided the momentum for crafting solutions, but were necessary in that it paved the way for my future successes and made me truly appreciate it all the more.”

Understanding that obstacles are something that people face no matter what business they start, Chris shared 4 of his deepest insights on how to overcome them and get ahead:

1. Brainstorm, Then Solve Problems

Finding a solution to a problem is the first step in building a successful business. First you become aware that something went wrong and then you begin to figure out why.

Chris Folayan started his company MallforAfrica on that premise. For years, Christraveled from the US to Nigeria with suitcases filled with merchandise his family wanted, as they were unable to purchase the items online.


US retailers refused to ship to Africa.

During one of his last trips to Nigeria, Chris tried to bring 10 suitcases with him and was refused by the airlines for exceeding the limit. Recognizing the enormity of the problem and the need for a solution, Chris built a system that now allows Africans to purchase merchandise from over 150 retail stores in the US and UK.

2. Critique Yourself and Your Team

Although an uncomfortable situation to be in, don’t shy away from critiquing yourself and your team as it is an integral step in building and sustaining a successful business.

Understanding what could have been done better will:

a.) Help to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

b.) Provide insight into how to improve.

c.) Enable you to be better equipped next time.

The more you think about and/or experience problems and how to resolve them, the more you train yourself and the people around you to be the powerhouse of lightning quick solutions.

3. Develop Emotional Rollercoaster Resilience

With all problems come disappointment. An emotional roller-coaster effect built on the repetitive concept of should have, would have, could have will never get you anywhere. The rollercoaster will keep moving whether you are on it or not. Instead of being disappointed, focus, regroup, then execute better the next time around.

Most successful people have always found ways to turn their failures into successes. Their background stories reflect resilience, as you never know what your failure today will lead to in a few years. But one thing is for certain, taking a problem, creating a plan that fixes it and then using it to your benefit can only make you stronger.

4. Stories of Failures Opens Up the Doors to Success

Sharing the challenges and failures you have incurred will show others that you arehuman, resilient, ready for change, and display a level of maturity that is beyond complementary to any business. Investments are made in people who have learned from their mistakes because they made them stronger. The main reason recent graduates are not hired immediately into top management is because experience hasn’t taught them yet. So take those failures and stories and use them to improve yourself and build that path to eminent success.

Read this article at the Inc.com