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The New ABCs of Success: Always Be Creating

In every economic crisis, there have been those individuals who have emerged from the aftermath even more financially secure. Luck has something to do with it, but that doesn't tell the whole story. In order to rise up and get ahead, you need to shift paradigms. You need a new way to look at and interact with the world. Fortunately, it's as simple as re-learning your ABCs.

In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin taught us the '80s ABCs: "A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing!" But that's old school. The new ABCs are Always Be Creating. People who create will be the people who succeed and excel. If you can create, you can write your own check.

I know what you're thinking: work stinks. They're talking about more layoffs, bonuses are out of the question, and you have to pitch in more for health insurance. Your 401(k) is in shambles, and your house is worth 40 percent less than it was a couple of years ago. The vision you had for your life has been seriously challenged. All you feel like doing when you come home is kicking back, cracking open a Heineken, and watching the tube. That's understandable, but it's absolutely bass ackwards.

You must get out there and create -- start a blog, write a book, record a video, start a business, code a new application, etc. It's easy to give advice like this, but I've tried to follow it, too. A couple of months ago I came up with an idea for a free personal finance eBook titled Plan Z: How to Survive the 2009 Financial Crisis (and even live a little better).

Why did I create something for free? I have counterintuitive (some would say controversial) advice on how to get through this recession, and I wanted to spread the word and build my brand: get the media's attention, build followers, and attract new readers to this blog and future projects. So I used my other 8 hours and wrote and wrote and wrote. I then partnered with several people and got the whole thing completed in about a month. It took me some time, but it didn't cost me anything. (More on how to find partners to donate their services for free in an upcoming post).

In a recession there's a whole lot of talk about reducing, cutting, shrinking, and decreasing -- but what if you took a different view? What if instead you looked for opportunities? What if you looked for ways to grow and expand and create?

Here are a few ideas on how to jumpstart your creative thinking:

  • Brainstorm. Think about what services/products might be needed if this turmoil continues and what services/products people will want when we recover.
  • $1 million game. This is a fun one. If you absolutely positively had to make $1 million in less than 365 days, what would you do? What area would you focus on? What skills would you have to rely on? You might not start any of the businesses you think about, but it's a great way to jumpstart your creativity.
  • Get partners. Get two or three friends/colleagues together for a twice-a-month meeting. Sit down with them and brainstorm. Tell them what's on your mind -- what ideas you're toying with. Press each other to come up with at least three business ideas for each meeting. If you agree on one, you have your team in place. But even if you don't, this get-together will force you to think entrepreneurially inside AND outside of the group.

Your goal is to create something -- anything. Create content. Start a blog. Invent a prototype. This blog post you're reading right now is an example of creating something. What can you create?

(ABCs image by Bethany L King, CC 2.0)

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