Behind every successful business is a solid strategy. Every year, companies invest collective hundreds of millions of dollars in professionals who they hope would give them the best strategies for their businesses. They do this because they know that in the predominantly capitalist society of today, brands that don’t compete well die off fast.
For Sean Lourdes, a business that starts out without a solid blueprint reduces its chances of thriving in the markets to near zero. In his words “Launching a business without drafting an effective strategy for its survival is similar to going to battle with a fierce enemy without defining techniques for assault”. And Sean is not alone. In the book “The Art of the Deal”, real estate billionaire and United States president, Donald Trump, gave insights on the techniques that helped him win big in the real estate industry. In “Negotiate Your Way to Riches”, Peter Wink poured out strategies businesses and individuals can use at various times to win big. Robert Greene teaches many strategic techniques in his books “The 33 Strategies of War” and “The 48 Laws of Power”
Life is a Game of Strategies — The Wisest Win
We can dare to say that the bulk of what happens during board meetings of most big corporations is just sessions of strategizing and re-strategizing in a bid to “outsmart” other companies. Now, whenever strategy is mentioned, most people like to think about complex techniques, complicated moves and unheard tactics. But does it have to be so? Not all. In the game of strategy — for life and for business — it appears some industry leaders understand the hacks well more than others. They seem to see the sophisticated powers in basic strategic moves.
The bulk of this article’s content borrows heavily from the business strategies of a young entrepreneur and philanthropist who has managed to thrive in his industry and travel the world without getting burned out in the process.
(Sean Lourdes brandishes one of his biggest tools; a warm, friendly smile)
The Power Lies with the People
“Everything you need to succeed in business can be gotten from people. Whether they are your employees or friends or colleagues or even strangers, people are assets in business because they will give you everything you need if you ask strategically enough” says Sean Lourdes.
And he is correct. A business needs a couple things to run successfully: funding, publicity, marketing, sales and customers. All of these processes involve people. Getting these people to do the needful does not have to burn all the money an entrepreneur has. For instance, a CEO that doesn’t have adequate funding may want to reach out to venture capitalists or angel investors; try word-of-mouth publicity; seek referral or affiliate marketing, and so on.
Beyond wanting to break away from the monotonous 9–5 life, most entrepreneurs are fuelled by some degree of ego; some burning desire to prove a point. It could be that they want to show the world how they built a $100-million business from scratch all by themselves or how they ran three businesses at the same time without hiring anyone full-time. The list goes on. Is it then not easy for people to underestimate the abilities of the people around them when this do-it-yourself concept is taken way too seriously?
In reality, there is a limit to what people can do. For instance, a business owner might have bookkeeping skills, marketing expertise, content creating skills and programming knowledge. But this does not mean the entrepreneur has to do all of these things. If such business owner manages to handle all these tasks, then it is pretty clear that they’d have to deal with stress, burnout or some serious health challenge.
Sean’s strategy is simple yet very remarkable: entrepreneurs should focus more on leveraging people as they sail on the turbulent ocean of business. Every ability of a business’ team member should be fully utilized (of course with their permission) in the course of taking a business to the next level. He reveals that “people power” as he likes to call it “comes in various forms and is useful in various ways too”. Some people like paperwork, some colleagues have good contacts in various industries, some employees like speaking to prospects and customers, some have plenty of time by their side, some have a good following, and some have the physical energy required to go hours on assigned tasks. The idea is to offer each person (employee or friend or acquaintance) a little thing of value and watch them try to reciprocate in their own capacities, most times.
But Some People Have More Power Than the Others
This is where Sean proved his mettle as an astute businessman. He knows that meaningful associations with industry leaders and top authorities will do his business and philanthropic efforts more good than any advert ever can. In this aspect, Sean practices what he preaches. He believes that individuals who want to be “more than an average Joe”, have to surround themselves with good company — powerful, intelligent and resourceful people who are relevant to their dreams.
For instance, Sean, through The Lourdes Foundation, seeks to spread peace and love across the world through charity and mentorship. It was only natural for him to surround himself with people who share similar ideologies, most notably the Tibetan Dalai Lama, who he successfully brought to the United States of America for an event he hosted in 2014. In the last couple of years, through strategic networking, Sean has met former US president, Barrack Obama; Hollywood veteran, Mel Gibson; music star, Selena Gomez; Whoopi Goldberg; Lionel Richie and a bunch of other A-list celebrities.
How does this help anyone in life? Furthermore, how does this concern entrepreneurship?
(L — R: Former US president, Barrack Obama and Sean Lourdes, entrepreneur and founder of The Lourdes Foundation)
In his sales masterpiece “the Psychology of Persuasion” Kevin Hogan notes that people are more likely to buy a product recommended by a celebrity than the one that isn’t so recognized. Generally, people with many followers influence sales positively. This is why Nike chose Cristiano Ronaldo as her brand ambassador. It is the same reason celebrities bag endorsements from big brands such as Adidas, Gucci, Pepsi and their likes.
Since Ronaldo uses Nike boots, many of his fans would want to model their hero by buying Nike boots. So Nike “sells” a Ronaldo every time a pair of boots is bought. The economic implication is glaring: more sales, more brand acceptance and more brand growth.
The Strategy Proper
Leaders should collaborate with their employees. Every employee is unique and can contribute a whole lot to the growth of a company if treated right. Next is networking and being where the industry disruptors are. Taking a photograph with an NFL star, tennis legend, movie superstar or trending musician may give your business more revenue than TV adverts ever could. But there is more to this than rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in various industries.
At this point, it is important to note that there is a major difference between networking and leveraging on people. Networking seems to involve more of meeting people, exchanging contacts and perhaps keeping in touch. Leveraging people, however, is the use of networks for growth in life and business. As a strategy, it involves the ethical act of having these people shine their light on your cause, actively or passively.
Think about some of the many small things that can have a big impact on your business or career:
- A rapper posting a photo of himself holding your book, on Instagram
- A popular comedian checks into your hotel, property or restaurant
- A preacher cites you in a story in church during his teachings
- Your mayor uses your favorite catchphrase in public
- A photo of you and an authority figure in your niche hanging on your office wall etc
If any of these makes sense to you, then it is time to up your people game. Some good places to meet some of these people include seminars, book signings (for celebrity authors), power conferences, power wedding ceremonies and so on. By all means, small and medium scale business or business owners must strive to be associated with the public figures that people love, and who are related to their niches.
Of course there’s always the unlimited power of word-of-mouth especially when an individual does something philanthropic or perhaps when a business owner sells impeccable products and services. A basic social media giveaway proves to be very effective in gaining people’s trust, cooperation and support. Many influencers do this all the time on social media. Beyond gifting, mere genuine interest in other people as well as being generous with genuine compliments — as Dale Carnegie suggests in his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People — will get you the attention and love of a whole lot of people.
Sean Lourdes believes that “In a world where people like to mind their businesses as they seek personal gain, anyone who manages to show genuine care or attention to other people easily wins these people’s respect and loyalty.
In a Nutshell
So this is one of the Sean Lourdes Strategies for winning in business and life. Realize that people have power, discover the ones whose powers are relevant to your business or cause, win them to your side either by helping them or just rubbing shoulders with them, and ultimately use this relationship or disposition to help your company grow. Of course do well to appreciate people as they help you. This is what Sean Lourdes does when he works with people.