Saturday, June 4, 2011

Interview with Carol Roth, author of "The Entrepreneur Equation"

What would you like readers to know about you as an introduction?

I’ve spent 16 years advising businesses. Some of my notable accomplishments include:
  • Helping raise over $1 billion in capital for my clients;
  • Completing over $750 million in M&A transactions;
  • Secure high-profile licensing and partnership deals for my clients with companies like Disney, Paramount and EMI Music;
  • Creating 7-figure brand loyalty programs;
  • Appearing regularly in media, including on Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business, WGN TV Chicago and more;
  • Having my blog acknowledged as one of the Top 10 small business blogs online;
  • And now, becoming a published author!
I’m known for my tough love approach -- I will tell you if you are being foolish and then give you a hug afterwards -- truly combining “tough” and “love.”

I also love to laugh and am a die-hard sports fan (especially of NFL football).

Tell us about your new book. What was your inspiration/motivation behind this book?

My book, The Entrepreneur Equation, came out of the frustration at the lack of realistic business advice available to new and existing entrepreneurs. Most books give you 7 steps to success and promise if you follow them, you will have the life of your dreams. I think that’s ridiculous, because we all have different definitions of success—not to mention different goals and circumstances. So, how could one path fit all? It can’t.

That’s why I wanted to create a framework to help aspiring and existing business owners do more planning, make better risk and reward tradeoffs and stack the odds of success in their favor, based on their own circumstances and objectives.

What have you learned through writing this book?

The process of launching a book is very similar to the process of launching a business. It’s one thing to have an idea, but another thing to launch it and then make it successful.

Deciding to start a business is different than deciding to start a successful business. The plans to open one store vs. a goal of creating a massive nationwide retail chain vary significantly. It is hard to know what steps to take if you don’t know your end goal.

The same goes for your book. What’s your end game? Are you using it as a calling card to get more clients? Are you seeking a label of achievement (like “best seller status”) for your brand? Are you hoping to make gobs of money from it or are you using it to spread a message (by the way, if your goal is make gobs of money, you might want to chat with a few industry professionals first)? These goals will significantly impact the planning and strategy of not only your manuscript, but the launch and marketing of your book.

And while you are at it, you might as well set the biggest goal that you can. Nothing happens if you don’t achieve your stretch goal, but as Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of shots that you don't take!”

How did you get started writing?

I’ve always been encouraged to write and have always liked to write. I remember writing as a child and then continuing through school. Even when I worked for a major investment bank, one of my favorite tasks was writing the materials we used to raise money or sell companies.

What is your writing process like? Do you write on a computer? In a spiral notebook? Do you draw illustrations?

I tend to write prolifically in chunks of time. I will spend hours and do nothing but write, because when I get in the flow, I can go very quickly. I sketch out some ideas or bullets often on paper and then type the content as I write it in full. This has changed over the last ten years -- I used to have to hand write it, now I can barely hand write it.

I do not draw very well, but I did do the rough illustrations for my book on a computer and then a professional made them “pretty.”

How do you get ideas for what you write?

I usually am inspired by solving a problem. Most of what I write is to solve a problem -- either for others, or sometimes for myself.

With my book, I was truly frustrated at the lack of success for entrepreneurs and so I started writing-- a few months later I had 80,000 words and realized it was a book.

I also tend to pay attention to trends, and when I see the same issues popping up over and over, it often inspires me. Now that I am blogging regularly, I get inspirations almost everywhere.

What is your biggest advice for young people, especially young women, reaching for their dreams?

Set a goal -- and a big one at that! A goal is different than a wish. A goal is specific, measurable and has a plan and an intention. You can’t figure out a path to get somewhere if you don’t know where it is that you are going.

The times in my life when I have been most successful is when I turned dreams into goals. Since time is so fleeting, you want to make sure you are pursuing goals that have a big enough payday -- both financially and from a quality of life standpoint, so don’t limit yourself.

And particularly for women, don’t worry about being “nice” or liked as much as being authentic and respected. To do something interesting, you are going to inevitably make some people uncomfortable- that’s usually when you know that you are on the right track. This is very counter to what girls are typically taught.

What are some of your favorite books?

Probably my two favorite books are Pride & Prejudice and Atlas Shrugged, the latter being the most impactful book I have ever read. The funny part is that the first 100 or so pages were so grueling, I didn’t want to continue; but I was encouraged to, and boy, did it pay off.

I also think the Harry Potter series was one of the most entertaining I have read. As far as business books, outside of the fiction of Atlas Shrugged, I also am a fan of the E-Myth Revisited and Made to Stick.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Always keep in mind that there is an actual cost and an opportunity cost for the choices you make. When you do something with your time, money and/or effort, that is time, money and effort that can’t be spent elsewhere, so choose wisely and when you do, dedicate yourself to making whatever you want happen.

Also, you can do whatever you want that will make you happy. Don’t let other people’s narrow mindedness limit you.


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